John Neville Warren
John Neville Warren (1818-1861)
1862 Obituary 
MR. JOHN NEVILLE WARREN was born in London in May, 1818; he received his education first under a private tutor and subsequently at University College, London.
He was articled to Mr. Francis Giles, (M.Inst.C.E.,) in 1836, and was actively engaged under him on various lines of railway in different parts of the kingdom.
In 1841 he went to Hamburg and was engaged with Mr. W. Lindley, (M. Inst. C.E.,) in laying out lines of railway in the north of Germany. He received the thanks of the Senate of Hamburg, and a medal, for his services during the disastrous fire in that city in 1842, when he opened the line from Hamburg to Bergedorf, on his own responsibility, in order to convey the sufferers from the fire to a place of shelter and safety.
On his return to England he was appointed, in 1844, Resident Engineer of the Guildford and Woking Railway, and when that line was completed, he remained for some years without any engagement in Engineering works, but during that interval he continued to take interest in scientific researches and in literature and the arts.
At the close of 1854 he became connected with the Scinde Railway, being in fact one of the first persons who took an active part in it in this country. On the formation of the Company he became a Director, and in October, 1855, he went out to India as agent for the Company in Scinde, and from that time until his death, with the exception of five months in 1860, during which he came over to England for his private affairs, he remained incessantly occupied with the arduous duties of his post. The difficulties he had to contend against were neither few nor small, and the success which has attended the Company’s operations is not a little due to the skill with which he managed its affairs.
The commencement of the works was delayed by a difference of opinion between the Engineers of the Company and those of the Government as to the best direction for the line, and it was not till May, 1858, that the first sod was turned by Sir Bartle Frere, then Commissioner in Scinde.
In June, 1859, the contractors became unable to carry on the works, and from that time their execution and completion devolved upon the officers of the Railway Company. The great amount of labour thus thrown on Mr. Warren at this time brought on an illness, from which however he recovered without being compelled to leave his post. The railway was opened for traffic in May, 1861, but during the summer of that year the line was on two occasions partially washed away by the rains, and the traffic was arrested.
The incessant toil and anxiety caused by these occurrences, and the difficulty of starting the traffic on a new line with inexperienced hands, were so great, that Mr. Warren’s health again gave way, and he was seized with acute inflammation of the liver in the latter end of August, 1861. His medical advisers were from the first apprehensive of a fatal result, aggravated, as such a disease always is, by a tropical climate. For some weeks he was unable to be moved, but an apparent diminution of the disease and the consequent relief from acute pain encouraged his friends to hope that if he could be conveyed to England he might recover.
On the 8th of October, 1861, he was conveyed on board the steamer ‘Tilly’ from Kurrachee to Bombay, and seemed relieved by the three days’ sea voyage between those ports. He was then transferred to the Peninsular and Oriental steamer 'Behar,' and soon afterwards became worse, and never rallied.
He died in the Red Sea on the second day after passing Aden, on the 21st of October, 1861. The esteem in which he was held by all the officers of the Company in Scinde was very truly expressed by the Chief Engineer, in a Report which was annexed to that of the Directors to the Shareholders in March, 1862, in which he said, "I cannot close this Report without recording my sincere grief at the loss this Company has sustained in the death of Mr. J. Neville Warren. In this feeling. know every member of my staff participates. During the three and a half years in which I have held my present office, I can bear testimony to the untiring zed and energy with which his very arduous duties were performed. And while the Company have in him lost a most valuable servant, I and all my staff mourn the loss of a kind friend, to whom we all looked up wit11 affection and respect."
These sentiments were corroborated by Mr. W. P. Andrew, the Chairman of the Scinde Railway Company, who, in his Address to the Shareholders at the Annual General Meeting, March 28th, 1862, said, "He could not conclude without alluding to the great loss the Company had sustained since the last Meeting in consequence of the decease of their able and energetic agent, Mr. Neville Warren. From the earnest manner in which he discharged his duties, that gentleman had won the high commendation of Sir Bartle Frere, the Commissioner in Scinde, and in which His Excellency The Governor-General of India and his Council concurred. Considering that Mr. Warren had injured his health in his exertions to serve the Company, a resolution had been placed on the books appreciatory of his services, which would be read to the Meeting. The Directors had also gone further than that, and done what was perhaps beyond their strict duty, inasmuch as seeing that Mr. Warren’s family had been left unprovided for, they had placed a sum of £500 in trust, with the sanction of the Secretary of State for India in Council, for the purpose of being appropriated to the education of his four children. He was gratified, to perceive, from the manner in which the Meeting had received the announcement, that they approved of the step which the Directors had taken. It was no doubt their duty to have consulted the proprietors before taking such a step, but Mr. Warren’s death having occurred so soon after their last Meeting, they did not deem it necessary to again call them so soon together ; and as the withholding any grant they were prepared to give, would have lost its grace and usefulness by having been withheld to the present time, the Directors had taken on themselves the responsibility of awarding it, and they now were gratified to find that in doing so they had the cordial sanction of the Shareholders.”
Thus passed away a most promising man, whose energy and talent bid fair to lead him to an eminent position in the career he had embraced.
Mr. Warren joined the Institution as an Associate in the year 1849, and whenever his avocations allowed him, he was a constant attendant at the Meetings, and at all times took a great interest in the proceedings.
Sources of Information
- Dublin Evening Mail - Wednesday 13 November 1861
- Morning Chronicle - Monday 27 March 1854.
- Morning Post - Saturday 25 September 1858
- 1862 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries