Selected: HEMANS, GEORGE WILLOUGHBY


Born: 1814
Died: 1885


Engineer. George Willoughby Hemans was born in St Asaph, North Wales, on 27 August 1814, the son(1) of Captain Alfred Hemans and his wife, the well-known poet Felicia Hemans, whose paternal grandfather, George Browne, came from Passage, Co. Cork. After passing three years at the Military College at Sorèze in France, Hemans was placed under the guardianship of his uncle Lt. Col. George Baxter Browne, a Dublin magistrate and one of the Commissioners of Police in Ireland. After working on the Ordnance Survey, Hemans became a pupil of Sir JOHN MACNEILL  JOHN MACNEILL in London. As such he worked on several Irish and Scottish lines of railway. After he had completed his pupilage, Macneill appointed him Resident Engineer in charge of the Dublin end of the Dublin & Drogheda Railway.(2) Hemans constructed the first two iron lattice bridges in Ireland on this line. After the line had been opened Hemans was placed in charge of a division of the new Great Southern and Western Railway between Dublin and Cork. Subsquently Macneill appointed him District Engineer for a fifty-mile stretch of the line. In August 1845 the directors of the Midland Great Western Railway invited Hemans to take charge of their proposed new line to Mullingar and Longford. The line to Mullingar was opened on 2 October 1848 but stopped there for lack of funds. However, in May 1849, as a famine relief measure, the Government loaned the company half a million pounds to construct a line between Athlone and Galway, while the company undertook to finance the line betweeen Mullingar and Athlone. It was stipulated that the whole line must be finished by the end of 1851. In the latter part of 1850 the directors, on the recommendation of Hemans, secured the services of WILLIAM DARGAN  WILLIAM DARGAN as contractor for the works. The whole line from Mullingar to Galway was completed in August 1851, five months before schedule and at a considerably lower cost than the estimate.

After the completion of the Mullingar-Galway line, Hemans continued as engineer to the Midland Great Western railway until 1865.(3) He also became chief dngineer of the Waterford & Limerick railway, a post which he likewise held until 1865.(4) During the 1860s he was, in addition, engineer to the following lines: Athenry & Ennis Junction; Athenry & Tuam; Dublin & Baltinglass; Enniskillen, Bundoran & Sligo; Inniskeen-Carrickmacross; Kilkenny Junction; Kilrush & Kilkee (with WILLIAM GALWEY WILLIAM GALWEY ); Limerick & Kilkenny; Newry & Armagh; Newry & Greenore; Newry & Warrenpoint; Portadown, Dungannon & Omagh Junction. He constructed more railways in Ireland than any other engineer of his time, employing RICHARD HASSARD  RICHARD HASSARD as his chief assistant for several years. In 1861 he prepared a report for the Duke of Leinster and E.M. O'Ferrall, M.P., containing a proposal for a junction of the Midland Great Western and Great Southern Railways with a cattle depot at the seventh lock on the Royal Canal.(5) He was also involved in the construction of an embankment as the first stage of the reclamation of the River Fergus navigation.(6) The sewage system of Dublin seems to have been a persisting concern of his.(7)

Hemans moved to London in 1854. In 1870 he was appointed engineer-in-chief to the government of the province of Canterbury, New Zealand, and subsequently to the government of New Zealand. In September 1872 he had a paralytic attack while he was staying in Wales which permanently deprived him of the power to speak or write, although his brain remained active and clear. He died on 29 December 1885. He is described in his obituary as 'slightly below the middle height, possessed of a well-built dapper form, betokening great activity, and with a handsome winning face, and most pleasant manners'. His sense of honour was 'almost too keen for the present day'.

Besides Richard Hassard, Hemans's pupils and assistants included CHARLES ROBERT ATKINSON CHARLES ROBERT ATKINSON , JAMES AUSTEN DICKINSON JAMES AUSTEN DICKINSON , DAVID REID EDGEWORTH DAVID REID EDGEWORTH , TRAVERS HARTLEY FALKINER TRAVERS HARTLEY FALKINER , SAMUEL GORDON FRASER SAMUEL GORDON FRASER , CHARLES GEORGE NAPIER CHARLES GEORGE NAPIER , CUTHBERT KNIGHTLEY ORLEBAR  CUTHBERT KNIGHTLEY ORLEBAR and JOHN CHALONER SMITH. JOHN CHALONER SMITH.

Inst. CE: elected associate, 2 May 1837; transferred to graduate, 2 May 1838; member, 18 May 1845; member of council, 1856; vice-president.
ICEI:(8) elected member, 1845; council member 1846-1849,1860-61,1885; vice-president, 1850-1856; president, 1857-1859; hon. member, 1 December 1881. (9)
RIA: member, 1840-1852.(10)
Royal Zoological Society: council member, 1850-1853.(11)

Addresses:(12) Work: 13 Seville Place, 1844; 52 Sackville Street Upper, 1846; 53 Sackville Street Upper, 1847-1848; 10 Rutland Square East, 1850-57; 46 Sackville Street Upper, 1858-63; 13 Queen Street, Westminster, 1863,(13)and/or 46 Queen's Square, London, 1863; Westminster Chambers, London, 1870.(14)
Home: 3 Rutland Square East, 1847-49.

See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY  BIBLIOGRAPHY (for Irish subjects only).

References
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the obituary of Hemans in Min.Proc.Inst.CE 85 (1886), 394-399, and the brief notice of his death in TICEI 17 (1886), report of Council, 1-2.

(1) B 3, 11 Oct 1845, supplement p.4, says he was the eldest son, the obituary in TICEI 17 says the youngest.
(2) According to Pettigrew & Oulton's Dublin Almanac Hemans had taken up this post by 1842.
(3) Jones transcripts from Thom's directories sub Midland Great Western Railway.
(4) Jones transcripts from Thom's Directories, sub Waterford and Limerick Railway.
(5) DB 3, 1 Feb 1861, 422; see also DB 5, 1 Oct 1863, 15.
(6) DB 5, 1 Apr 1863, 63.
(7) See DB 7, 1 Feb 1865, ? (footnote), and B 28, 22 Oct 1870, 850.
(8) From lists of officers and membrs in TICEI unless otherwise stated.
(9) TICEI 13 (1879-81), ?.
(10) Jones transcripts from Thom's directories, sub Royal Irish Academy.
(11) Jones transcripts from Thom's directories, sub Royal Zoological Society.
(12) From Thom's and Post Office Directories, and Jones's transcripts from lists of engineers in classified section of Thom's Directoies unless otherwise stated.
(13) APSD list of subscribers, 1863.
(14) IB 12, 15 Aug 1870, 197.

11 work entries listed in chronological order for HEMANS, GEORGE WILLOUGHBY


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Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, BROADSTONE, RAILWAY STATION (MIDLAND GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY TERMINUS)
Date: 1847ca;1850-55
Nature: Passenger shed, 1847ca. Engine house, 1850-55..
Refs: APSD II, D, 77; G.W. Hemans, 'A short account of the fall, during a violent storm of part of a roof in progress of erection over the Dublin Terminus of the Midland Great Western Railway', TICEI 3 (1847-49), 13-20;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 282-283.

Building: CO. WESTMEATH, ATHLONE, SHANNON BRIDGE
Date: 1850
Nature: Swing bridge over Shannon for Midland Great Western Railway Co., supported on cast-iron cylinders and erected by Fox, Henderson & Co.Cost: £25,000 under superintendence of Charles Robert Atkinson. Contractor's engineer: J. Millner.  Conttractor for stone bridge abutments: Mr Dargan. Sinking of cylinders effected by Potts's pneumatic process.
Refs: Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal 13 (Dec 1850), 392; illustrated in Nicholson's Dictionary of…Architecture (1870ca), pl. 164; Min.Proc.Inst.CE 14 (1854-5), 467-8;  IB 68, 13 Nov 1926, 848;  Min.Proc.Inst.CE 39 (1874-75, Pt. I), 264-266;  P.J. Currivan, 'Athlone as a Railway Centre', Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society (E.McP; full ref. not given, nor source of date 1850)

Building: CO. GALWAY, LOUGH ATALIA VIADUCT
Date: 1850-51
Nature: Metal railway swivel bridge, for Midland Great Western Railway Co. Masonry contractor: Dargan. Ironwork contractor: Mssrs Fairbairn, Manchester (one of 40ft spans crossed by cast iron girders made by Stephens, Galway, to Mssrs. Fairbairn's patented design for box girders) Line opened Aug 1851.
Refs: B 8, 12 Oct 1850, 488; 9, 19 Apr,3 May,16 Aug 1851, 254,281,517

Building: CO. GALWAY, BALLINASLOE, RAILWAY STATION (MIDLAND GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY)
Date: 1851
Nature: New station to be built at a cost of about £1,500. Contractor: Cockburn & Son, Dublin; 'apparently' designed by GWH (Sheehy).
Refs: B 9, 22 Feb 1851, 124 (described in detail but no architect named); Jeanne Sheehy, 'Railway Architecture - its heyday', Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society 12, no. 68 (Oct 1975), 138; See Michael Gould & Ronald Cox, 'The railway stations of George Wilkinson', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 6 (2003), 195 (Pl.12) for a view of the station after enlargement by George Wilkinson.)

Building: CO. GALWAY, WOODLAWN, RAILWAY STATION (MIDLAND GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY)
Date: 1851
Nature: New station to be erected, probably for about £600; 'apparently' designed by GWH (Sheehy).
Refs: B 9, 22 Feb 1851, 124Jeanne Sheehy, 'Railway Architecture - its heyday', Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society 12, no. 68 (Oct 1975), 138

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, RAILWAY STATION (MIDLAND GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY)
Date: 1851ca
Nature: 'The station front…is…by Mulvany, but George Willoughby Hemans, engineer to the company, seems to have been involved in the design of the shed.'
Refs: Jeanne Sheehy, 'Railway Architecture - its heyday', Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society 12, no. 68 (Oct 1975), 137

Building: CO. KILKENNY, FIDDOWN, BRIDGE
Date: 1853
Nature: New bridge (for Waterford & Limerick Railway). Engineer-in-chief: G.W. Hemans.
Refs: B 11, 8 Jan 1853, 28

Building: CO. GALWAY, BALLYGLUNIN (TUAM), RAILWAY STATION
Date: 1859
Nature: For Athenry & Tuam Railway Co.
Refs: DB 1, 1 May 1859, 60

Building: CO. GALWAY, TUAM, RAILWAY STATION
Date: 1859
Nature: New railway terminus for Athenry & Tuam Railway Co.
Refs: DB 1, 1 May 1859, 60

Building: CO. CLARE, RIVER FERGUS RECLAMATION SCHEME
Date: 1863
Nature: First section of proposed reclamation of River Fergus navigation about to be started with construction of an embankment.
Refs: DB 5, 1 Apr 1863, 63

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ST STEPHEN'S GREEN, PARK
Date: 1864
Nature: Design for improvements 'intended to be effected' when Green is opened as public park.
Refs: B 22, 15 Mar 1864, 283

Author Title Date Details
Hemans, George Willoughby 'Description of a wrought-iron Lattice Bridge, erected on the line of the Dublin and Drogheda Railway' 1844 Paper read to Inst.CE, 9 Jan 1844, published in Min.Proc.Inst. CE 2 (1844), 63-4 (brief summary in Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal 7 (13 Jan 1844), 22-23.
Hemans, George Willoughby 'Description of the rails, sleepers and fastenings on the Dublin and Drogheda Railway' 1846 Min.Proc.Inst.CE 5 (1846), 233-239.
Hemans, George Willoughby 'Description of a Horizontal Lattice Bridge over the Royal Canal on the Dublin and Drogheda Railway' 1847 TICEI 2 (1846-7), 98-104.
Hemans, George Willoughby 'A short account of the fall, during a violent storm, of part of a roof in progress of erection over the Dublin Terminus of the Midland Great Western Railway' 1849 TICEI 3 (1847-49), 13-20. (Paper read Dec 1847.)
Hemans, George Willoughby 'Account of the construction of the Midland Great Western Railway of Ireland over a tract of Bog in the counties of Meath and Westmeath' 1850 TICEI 4 (Pt 1) (1849-50), 48-60 (summary in Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal 13 (Jan 1850),107).
Hemans, George Willoughby 'Remarks on that portion of Professor Lane's paper relating to single and double lines of railways' 1854 TICEI 4, Pt. 3 (1851-54), 29-32. (Paper read 30 Mar 1852.)
Hemans, George Willoughby 'On the railway system in Ireland, the Government aid afforded, and the nature and results of county guarantees' 1858 Min.Proc.Inst.CE 18 (1858), 24-36.
Hemans, George Willoughby [President's inaugural address to ICEI] 1859 TICEI 5 (1855-59), 51-56. (Address delivered 9 Dec 1856.)
Hemans, George Willoughby 'The main drainage of Dublin' 1870 The Builder 28, 22 Oct 1870, 850. (Letter to editor. Extract published in IB 12, 1 Nov 1870, 256.)