Leather to know, as he might not perhaps be pleased. Stonehouse's farm, Greatham, near Stockton, Durham. Stonehouse," he writes, " is a farmer of acres of land, and I have exceedingly nice rooms, and they appear a very good sort of people; but of course it was rather a favour to get here as they are not in the habit of taking lodgers. However, that was done through the kind offices of one of the directors.
Fowler, during the years and , re- mained in superintendence of the making of the Stockton and Hartlepool Eailway, spending his time between Greatham and Hartlepool, with occasional absence at Leeds, the head office of his employer, Mr. The following letter to his principal, a draft of which has been preserved, illustrates the sort of work which had to be performed by a resident engineer.
Hi 46 yards, 1 cubic yards 14 4 at Is. But as it would be desirable to cover the tar with 4 or 6 inches of soil, it is probable the expense would be about equal. Fowler, who, as we have already- seen, was wont to identify himself with his work in a strongly personal way, seems to have been a little hurt at the absence of his family from the opening ceremony.
In a letter, dated March 15th, , and written from Greatham, after dilating on this grievance, he goes on to describe his own connection with the railway. I was up a good deal of the night again, and next day was on the engine all day again. This day in performing the last trip we had an accident with the engine by blowing out the lead plug near Hartlepool, which kept us up till between two and three in the morning to repair and get the engine back to Stockton.
Since that time I have been nearly as much engaged, but we have had no accident whatever, except- ing killing a horse belonging to Hutchinson, the contractor. The accident was to the last train from Hartlepool to Stockton being dark at the time , and one of Hutchinson's lads was leading bran down the Clarence Eailway.
On the arrival of the lad at a certain part of the line, he was cautioned not to proceed further until the train had passed, as the Clarence has only a single line at that place in consequence of replacing some old materials; but the fellow said he would go into a siding immediately below and wait till the train had passed. And had he done so all would have been well, but he passed on, and met the train full. The engine driver saw him a short time before they met, and slackened speed as much as possible, but the concussion was sufficient to throw the engine off the rails, kill the horse, scatter the bran, etc.
I collected a force of men with screw-jacks and crowbars and winches, and we got her on the line at half-past twelve, and with the other engine dragged her to Stockton. He replied very handsomely that he had no objection if they wished it, and he advised my continuing to manage the traffic of the railway until Hutchinson was done with his contract, and, of course, when my engagement with Mr.
From This World To That Which Is To Come
Leather might expire, and then they might make an agreement for my continuing with them. And there for the present the matter rests. I have fitted up, or am fitting up, an office in the station, and am looking out for lodgings in Stockton. Such a concentration of authority in one person was rare even in those early days, and in after life Sir John Fowler was wont to refer to his connection with the Stockton and Hartlepool Eailway as a very valuable experience.
Throughout life John Fowler seems to have revelled in hard work, and whether his day's occupation was a difficult problem in engineering or, as here, the routine of a responsible but still commonplace task, his was one of those fortunate natures which require neither recreation nor refreshment apart from work. Herein no doubt lay one of the secrets of his success and happiness. Fortunately many men find their happiness in what is superficially regarded as the drudgery of daily life, and for many years this was Fowler's attitude towards his profession.
There are those who complain of the too narrow scope of the industrial life, but the lesson taught by a candid consideration of the facts seems to be, that it is quite possible, by a reasoned submission to the inevitable, to find, both in work successfully accomplished and in the leisure earned thereby, some measure of artistic satisfac- tion.
The career of a successful engineer like Sir John Fowler is to some extent exceptional, but it is still a fair illustration of a wise philosophy of industrial life. A long career of useful and unremitting toil, from which he derived a never -failing enjoyment, brought him ample means and leisure to indulge his love of hos- pitality and society, sport, travel, and art.
The biographer has been struck, in turning over the materials confided to him for the purpose of this work, by noticing how much wider the circle of interests seems to grow in middle and later life, and further, how on the whole, at every period of it, his life seems to have been a happy one ; so much so is this the case that, though undoubtedly each addition to wealth and reputation was duly appreciated, the impression is firmly created that even had his ambition been narrower, and his success less marked, Fowler would still have been a happy man. Youth is generally supposed to be the period of wide aspiration.
The doors of the prison-house of life tend to close, the poet tells us, on the growing man. This process was, we believe, reversed in the case of John Fowler. He does not reprobate it or excuse it, but notes it as inevitable in the fol- lowing comment on the failure of Mr. Leather and his brother Henry to visit him according to promise.
Early next year, i.
Past Winners and Finalists | GGBooks
In due time it wiU be introduced into the House of Lords, when a similar fight will again have to be encountered. The Hartlepool Junction Eailway, against now finished ; the Monkland and Kirkintilloch Eailway, for postponed for a week ; the Ballochney Eailway, for which I have to attend to-morrow. A cross-examination in a committee-room has now no terrors for him. In September he is back again at his post on the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway. I shall at least gain information of great value in the contest, whatever may be the fate of the Bill.
Sir Gregory Lewin is retained for us, and he has been with me two days upon the work, getting to understand the engineering and nautical points of the case. I have engineers or con- tractors with me almost every day, who are expected to give evidence for us, and this takes up much of my time; and every moment I can spare from them I devote to a chart of the coast I have prepared, with soundings, surveys of rocks, eddies, etc. I expect to be in London in about three weeks. I have not got anything except the dock, although I believe I shall be engaged in some other matters. I have been spoken to about a railway in Cornwall by a party who wishes to have my assistance in Parliament.
It was subsequently worked in close connection with the Clarence Eailway, and the whole combined length amounted to 43 miles. In the whole was amalgamated with the Hartlepool Docks, then in course of construction, and the title of the undertaking became the West Hartlepool Harbour and Eailway Co. Two years later, by the Act of July 31st, , the company was amalgamated in the system of the North Eastern Eailway, in the balance-sheet of which there still figure certain West Hartlepool Primary charges representing the un- redeemed portion of the shares of the old Clarence Eailway Co.
The Ballochney Eailway, to which allusion is made above, was a mineral railway in direct communication with the Slamannan and the Monkland and Kirkin- tilloch lines, and through the latter with the Garnkirk and Glasgow, and also with the Wishaw and Coltness Eailways. It was authorised by an Act of Parliament in Up to we are told by Whishaw in his Railways of Great Britain and L'eland, published in , this line had been worked chiefly by horses, but at that date it was being prepared for locomo- tive traction.
The whole of these lines is now incorporated in the North British system. Fowler's inspection of these railways was under- taken through the invitation of Sir John MacNeill, the well-known Scoto-Hibernian engineer. The Stockton and Hartlepool Railway was an under- taking of comparatively small importance, but it gave Mr. Fowler a bit of experience which is probably unique in the annals of railway engineering. He seems to have surveyed and then built the line, and then to have combined in his own person the responsi- bility for every branch of railway management, from buying the engines to shutting the carriage doors.
In the course of this employment he picked up a great deal of miscellaneous information bearing on his pro- fession which is not readily acquired under the minute subdivision of labour which even then was becoming usual. Fowler came to London, and his independent work as an engineer may be dated from that year. The list for contains thirty-six entries, and that for thirty-eight; so that it may be said that at once the young engineer stepped into a large and lucrative practice.
In we find an entry for work done in connec- tion with the Rheims and Douai Railway, and in the same year began his connection. This last work had been begun by Brunei, but was at this date transferred to the charge of Mr. Fowler, who carried it to completion.
It would be tedious to narrate in detail the manifold employments in which Mr. Fowler now became engaged. Some of the larger undertakings with which he was associated will be described later on. His task at this date was not only the construction of works, but also the conduct through Parliament of the legislative measures necessary to their inception, amalgamation, and extension.
The railway mania, then about to begin, made most urgent demands on the time and services of every capable engineer in the kingdom, and naturally the cool-headed, competent young Yorkshire- man was in great request. In after years, discussing his career with a son of his great predecessor and friend, Brunei, Mr.
Fowler dwelt on the comparatively prosaic character of much of the engineering work of this period. The era of railway romance came to an end with Stephenson, and Mr. A new departure, in his own career at all events, he always maintained was begun when in he became associated with the first scheme for tunnelling a railway under the streets of London, an enterprise to which we propose to devote a special chapter.
- Full text of "The life of Sir John Fowler".
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We feel justified, therefore, in passing somewhat lightly over the work of this period and dwelling rather on the general conditions under which the engineer's calling was then conducted. Much of his work, as already said, was done in the committee-rooms of the Houses of Parliament.
Sunshine and Shadow
Of his views of the duty of an engineer in this respect the best account to be given is that contained in his pre- sidential address to the Institution of Civil Engineers, delivered in To do this, it is true, is no easy matter, as the clauses are often drawn up with so little care and practical knowledge that neither engineers nor solicitors, nor the most experienced parliamentary agents can understand what is intended.
I would therefore impress on all young engineers the importance, both to themselves and to their clients, of laying their cases before committees in the most perfect manner possible, accompanied by full and correct information, carefully prepared and clearly worked out. Not only parliamentary tribunals, the counsel who practise there, but also directors, shareholders, and the public who may become shareholders, have to be instructed and conciliated.
A large measure of Fowler's success was due to his proper appreciation of this fact. He was an admirable witness, and a most persuasive advocate. As we have already seen, he espoused with warmth any cause which he advocated, and naturally identified himself with his clients, and even as a boy he was keenly alive to the mischief done to a cause by the slovenly presentation of it by counsel and wit- nesses. Many jibes have been made at the expense of the "expert witness," but they are due largely to a misconception of his position. An expert witness, as we all know, is examined on oath, but at the same time his position is very generally recognised as, in some respects and within certain limits, that of an advocate for the side which retains his services.
There are limits in advocacy beyond which an honourable man, whether on oath or not, will refuse to go. It is necessary, owing to the uncertainty which must attend any calculation of this character, that each link in it should be closely scrutinised. Both petitioners and opposers are justified in having the technicalities of their case presented by competent witnesses. There is, naturally enough, a disposition on the part of counsel and litigants to press such witnesses to pass beyond the letter of their brief and to affect a judicial attitude which they ought not to be asked to assume.
In discussing with the author the ethical aspects of the question, one of the most distinguished of living engineers admitted the somewhat anomalous conditions, and the embarrass- ment in which the zeal of counsel on his own side occasionally placed him.
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As evidence of the versatility of the expert witness, a well-known parliamentary solicitor described to the author his visit to an accom- plished engineer for the purpose of securing his assistance for some application to a parliamentary committee.