Horatio Nelson Indian Railway Contractor

Horatio Nelson was a civil engineer in 1837 and a railway contractor in 1849, so may well have been involved in railway construction in England during the period of George Hudson's "Railway Bubble". Quite possibly the bursting of the bubble in 1849, and the subsequent decline in railway construction in England, may have had something to do with Horatio's decision to go to India, where he spent the rest of his life working ads a railway contractior on the Great Indian Peninsular Railway.

Like most of the early railways in India, the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) was a British company, registered in London, privately owned and financed, operating under licence and guarantee from the (British) Board of Control in India and the East India Company (EIC). The GIPR was India and Asia's first railway. Formed in 1845, it was not until 1849 (at the urging of the then Governor, Lord Dalhousie) that the EIC sanctioned the GIPR to construct an experimental line, built to the broad gauge of 5' 6", eastward from Bombay. The first sod was turned on 31 October 1850 and the first locomotive was used in construction on 22 December 1851, but the first passenger train in India did not run until 16 April 1853, when a train, with 14 railway carriages and 400 guests, left Bombay bound for Thane, hauled by three locomotives: Sindh, Sultan, and Sahib. The 21-mile journey took an hour and fifteen minutes over the first section of the GIPR to be opened. By 1859, GIPR was tasked with "the construction and working of the following lines, all of which terminate at Bombay, - viz. from Bombay, via Callian, to Jubbulpore, to meet the East Indian Railway Company's line from Allahabad, with branches to Mahim and Nagpore - 870 miles; and from Callian, via Poonah and Sholapore, to the opposite side of the river Kristna, to meet the line, via Bellary, from Madras - 366 miles - total, 1,236 miles. Capital 10,000,000ll. Rate of Interest Guaranteed - 5 per cent on £8,000,000 capital, and 4½ per cent. on £333,000 debentures, the balance to be raised upon arrangements to be hereafter made.” When, in 1871, the GIPR eventually reached Jubbulpore and linked to the East Indian Railway (EIR), it completed Dalhousie’s dream of a Bombay-Calcutta route.

The contract was awarded (autumn 1855) to William Frederick Faviell and work begun at Bhore Ghat on 24 January 1856. Presumably Horatio Nelson worked to or with him. In March 1859, Faviell gave up his contract; for a short time, two GIPR engineers, Swainson Adamson and George Louis Clowser, carried on the work. The GIPR construction contract was relet in November 1859 to Solomon Tredwell who died within fifteen days of landing in India. His wife, Alice Tredwell, assumed the contract and appointed Messrs Adamson and Clowser to manage the contract for her in her absence, as Mrs Tredwell returned to England. This arrangement was to last seven years. “These gentlemen (Adamson and Clowser) carried on the work with the greatest zeal and ability.” Labour management could limit construction progress, but “by their good and liberal management (Adamson and Clowser) collected and kept on the work a force of 25,000 men during two seasons, and in 1861 of more than 42,000 men.”

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