Engineer, of Belfast. William Redfern Kelly spent his whole career working for the Belfast Harbour Commissioners. He was born in Dublin on 16 January 1845 and served his pupilage with WILLIAM HOME LIZARS at Belfast Harbour from 1864 to 1867. Declining a civil engineering appointment under the Indian Government, he continued to work at Belfast Harbour as an assistant engineer, and was promoted to chief assistant engineer circa 1870. Following the death of GEORGE FREDERICK LEE GILES in 1904, he was appointed chief engineer in January 1905. After a period of sick leave later in the year, he held the position until his retirement in 1914, when he was succeeded by THOMAS STEPHEN GILBERT . At the time of his retirement and for some years afterwards he was a justice of the peace for the city of Belfast. He died on 18 August 1928 at his home in Belfast, after having been in failing health for some months. His 1911 census return indicates that he married twice. By his first wife, Mary (née Bell) he was the father of Edwin Arthur Redfern Kelly (b. 1872), who also worked for the Belfast Harbour Commissioners. His pupils and assistants included WILLIAM WYLIE HOUSTON.
While he was Assistant Chief Engineer Kelly also undertook other engineering and building works in Belfast and in some of the smaller ports of Northern Ireland. After becoming Chief Engineer he was responsible for the deepening of the Victoria Channel, the construction of the Thompson graving dock and wharf, the reconstruction of the south quay of the York branch dock, the alteration and strengthening of the Victoria wharf,and the laying of a tramway along Queen's Road. He also had to deal with the problem of the collapse of the Alexandra graving dock.
Kelly, described as a man of wide literary interests, was also a keen astronomer. He was one of the founder members of the British Astronomical Association and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He travelled extensively in this connection and was a member of the astronomical societies of France and Belgium. He wrote articles on astronomy for the Belfast Press and was a frequent contributor to scientific periodicals.
Inst.CE: elected member, 2 December 1890, proposed by THOMAS ROSS SALMOND ; resigned, December 1915.
RIAI: elected associate, 22 November 1875; not on list of members for 1895.
GLFI: member of Lodge 253 (Carrickfergus) and 109 (Belfast). Worshipful Master of Lodge 109 on 28 October 1867.
Addresses: Home: 1 Elgin Terrace, Richmond, Belfast, 1890; 15 Malone Park, 1911; Dalriada, Malone Park, at time of death.
See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY.
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the obituaries of Kelly in Engineering ?, 24 Aug 1928, 232, and IB 70 , 1 Sep 1928, 744.
Inst.CE candidate's circular written by Kelly, 20 Jun 1890 (information from Mrs Carol Morgan, Archivist, Inst.CE).
According to the obituary in IB, Kelly accepted the appointment but 'was compelled to resign for reasons of health'.
IB 47, 28 Jan 1905, 49.
IB 47, 12 Aug 1905, 542.
The date of his retirement is given as 1914 in IB obituary and 1915 in Engineer obituary; Thom's Directory for 1915 names Gilbert as Chief Engineer; possibly Kelly resigned on his 70th birthday, 16 January 1915, when it was already decided that Gilbert would succeed him.
See note 1, above.
See note 3, above.
See note 1, above, and Min.Proc.Inst.CE 103 (1890-91), 122.
Information from Mrs Carol Morgan, Archivist, Inst.CE.
RIAI general meeting minutes, 22 Nov 1875, 265.
See note 1, above.