VIGNOLES, CHARLES BLACKER #
- Born: 1793 Died: 1875
Railway engineer, for biographies of whom see Min.Proc.Inst.CE 43 (1875-76, Pt. I), 306-311, and Dictionary of Irish Biography, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Charles Blacker Vignoles had strong links with Ireland, where his Huguenot forebears settled after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Both his grandfather and father were in the Army. He was born at Woodbrook, Co. Wexford, the house of a family friend, William Blacker,(1) in 1793, while his father, Captain Charles Henry Vignoles of the Monmouthshire Light Infantry, was stationed in Ireland. He left Ireland when he was still an infant, however, and was based in Britain and abroad for the rest of his life. He was involved in railway work from the mid-1820s and became one of the world's leading railway engineers during the decades of explosive growth of railway construction which ensued.
Ireland was one of the many countries in which he worked. An early Irish commission was for the improvement of the navigation of the River Slaney for the fourth Earl of Portsmouth in 1829. About two years later he visited Ireland in connection with the projected Cork, Limerick & Waterford Railway. Following the death of ALEXANDER NIMMO  in 1832, he was appointed directing engineer to the Dublin & Kingstown Railway Co.(2) He 'entirely revised and materially improved' Nimmo's plans for the line(3) and was responsible for the erection of the stations at Westland Row and Dun Laoghaire, for a series of bridges along the line, and for the bridge, tunnel, fishing lodge and and bathing house on Lord Cloncurry's estate at Blackrock.(4) According to the Irish Builder he 'worked with stupendous activity, constantly paying flying visits of a day's duration to Ireland'.(5) At about the same time he was asked to prepare plans for the completion of Wellesley Bridge and Docks in Limerick. Nimmo had previously been engineer for the works, which 'had got into a state of very great embarrassment for want of detailed plans'. Vignoles was called in 'to assist in arbritrating in the matter of the claims made by the contractors, and to form plans and arrange measures for the entire termination of the works'.(6) Later he was connected with a number of Irish railways as a consultant: these included the Kingstown & Bray, Cork & Bandon,(7) Kilkenny Junction,(8) Waterford & Limerick, and the Dublin, Rathmines, Rathgar, Rathfarnham & Rathcoole lines.(9) His ambitious plan, mooted in 1833-4, for a trunk line from Dublin to Valentia, Co. Kerry, to speed traffic between Europe and America was not realised.(10) He was also involved with ALEXANDER NIMMO  in surveys and plans for the for a line from Dublin to Sligo for the Central Irish Railway Co. in 1836.(11) He was the father of CHARLES FRANCIS FERDINANDO VIGNOLES , who was employed by the Shannon Commissioners.
Vignoles's pupils and assistants included FRANCIS ARTHUR DOYLE , CHARLES GERRARD FORTH , PARKE NEVILLE , ALEXANDER NIMMO  and SAMUEL STEPHEN SEARANCKE and possibly THOMAS TURNER.
ICEI: elected member, 1835;(12) vice-president, 1842-1845,1855-56;(13) president, 1863-4.(14)
Inst.CE: founder member member 10 April 1827; elected president, December 1869.
RIA: elected member, 1836.(15)
See WORKS, for Irish work only.
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the obituary of Vignoles in Min.Proc.Inst.CE 43 (1875-76, Pt. I), 306-311, and the biography in IB 51, 17 Apr 1909, 234, which is based on O.J. Vignoles, Charles Blacker Vignoles (1889), provides more detail about his work in Ireland. See also the biography of Vignoles by Ron Cox in A.W. Skempton et al., A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland I (2002), 747-749, which is illustrated with an engraved portrait, and the entry by K.R. Fairclough in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
(1) For William Blacker, see Burke's Irish Family Records (1976), 114.
(2) For Vignoles's role in the construction of this line, see see K.A. Murray, Ireland's First Railway (Irish Railway Record Society, 1981), passim.
(3) First Report of the Commissioners on Public Works, Ireland…for the Year 1832, 5.
(4) Second Annual Report of the Commissioners…of Public Works in Ireland (1834), 18, Plans 15,16.
(5) IB 51, 17 Apr 1909, 237. He also worked in the Isle of Man, where an estate map of 1829 at Ballaughton House has been attributed to him (photocopy in Manx National Heritage Archive, ref. BN.3.M, information from Patricia Tutt, Dec 2010).
(6) See note 2, above.
(7) Jones transcript from Thom's directories.
(8) B 2m 16 Nov 1844, 574.
(9) Murray, op. cit., above, 43-44.
(10) See note 6, above.
(11) Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal 4 (Oct 1841), 352.
(12) Photocopy of transcript of minutes of first meeting of Engineers' Society of Ireland, 6 Aug 1835, in IAA, Jones File F73; list of members in IB 12, 15 Aug 1870, 197.
(13) See note 6, above.
(14) List of past presidents in TICEI 19 (1887-88), 78.
(15) See note 6, above.
4 work entries listed in chronological order for VIGNOLES, CHARLES BLACKER #
|Building:||CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, SARSFIELD BRIDGE & DOCKS|
|Nature:||CBV provides plans for completion.. Original engineer Alexander Nimmo|
|Refs:||First Report of the Commissioners on Public Works, Ireland…for the Year 1832, 5 (plans, s. Charles Vignoles, 31 Dec 1833 in Third Report?)|
|Building:||CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, WESTLAND ROW, RAILWAY STATION (DUBLIN & KINGSTOWN RAILWAY)|
|Nature:||Designed by CBV for Dublin & Kingstown Railway Co.|
|Refs:||Second Annual Report of the Commissioners…of Public Works in Ireland (1834), 18, Plan 16; APSD, D, 77|
|Building:||CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MACKEN STREET, RAILWAY BRIDGE|
|Nature:||Railway bridge over Gt Clarence St (Macken St.), for Dublin & Kingstown Railway Co.|
|Refs:||Second Annual Report of the Commissioners…of Public Works in Ireland (1834), 18, Plan 16|
|Building:||CO. DUBLIN, BLACKROCK, NEWTOWN AVENUE, MARETIMO|
|Nature:||Footbridge, towers and fishing lodge, tunnel and bathing house erected by Dublin & Kingstown Railway Co. on Lord Cloncurry's estate, through which railway line passed.|
|Refs:||Specification for building the baths and towers footbridge over Dublin-Kingstown Railway at Maretimo, Blackrock, Co. Dublin (and specification for repairs to same, 1882) in IAA (acc.no.2009/34). Views of original? proposal for tunnel in Dublin Penny Journal 2, 21 Jun 1834, 404(illus.),405(illus); Second Annual Report of the Commissioners…of Public Works in Ireland (1834), 18, Plan 16; K.A. Murray, Ireland's First Railway (Irish Railway Record Society, 1981), 24,146-7; Jeanne Sheehy, 'Railway Architecture - its heyday', Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society 12, no. 68 (Oct 1975), 125|