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British Industrial History

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Stephen Charles Best

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Stephen Charles Best (1831-1891), Civil Engineer

1832 Born in Egham the son of Richard Charles Best and his wife Martha

1857 Birth of son Charles W. Best

1862 Birth of son Harry R. Best

1892 Obituary [1]

STEPHEN CHARLES BEST was born on the 27th of June, 1831, and was articled in 1847 to Mr. W. Millson, architect and civil engineer, with whom he served a three years' pupilage.

After being engaged for a time in London, he went, in 1853, to Paris, where, in the offices of Messrs. Gandell Freres, he was engaged in the preparation of plans and designs for projected railways in France and Italy. He was subsequently employed for about a year on the staff for the construction of the Bourg and Macon branch of the Lyons and Geneva Railway.

Returning to England in 1855, he was for a short time engaged in the office of the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers and Board of Works, under the late Sir Joseph Bazalgette, and subsequently as Resident Engineer for Messrs. Law and Blount on the construction of several large river bridges in Essex and Herefordshire.

In 1859 Mr. Best became one of the Resident Engineers of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, under the late William Mills, and was placed in charge of the construction of the Dover section, which included four tunnels and other heavy works, extensive station and other buildings, a viaduct across the inner basin of Dover harbour, taking out and rebuilding the pierhead and a considerable extent of quay-walls, and deepening a part of the harbour. He subsequently took charge of the maintenance of about 50 miles of permanent way.

In 1864 he made parliamentary surveys for a branch from the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, near Dover, to Walmer and Deal.

In the following year he accepted the appointment of Chief Engineer for the late Mr. T. R. Crampton, on the construction of the East and West Junction Railway, 33 miles in length, from Towcester to Stratford-upon-Avon, which he carried to successful completion.

In 1876 he undertook the construction of the Middle Level Sluice for the late Mr. Webster, on the completion of which he carried out large extensions to the Grand Junction Waterworks at Hampton-on-Thames.

In 1883 Mr. Best took charge, for Messrs. Lucas and Aird, of the construction of the Hull section of the Hull and Barnsley Railway, upon which were many important works. It was satisfactorily completed, and the line opened in 1885.

From that time until his death, which took place on the 24th of September, 1891, from blood-poisoning, following rheumatic fever, Mr. Best practised in Westminster as a Consulting Engineer, in conjunction with his two elder sons.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 7th of March, 1665, and was transferred to the class of Associate Member on its creation in December, 1878, and to that of Member on the 7th of January, 1879.

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