George Barclay Bruce

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George Barclay Bruce Sir (1821-1908)

Railway Achievements in India

  • c.1851, "Bruce was called to India, and was thenceforth largely concerned with Indian railways" [1].
  • 1851-1853, East Indian Railway, Engineer on construction of Calcutta section [1] (actually from Howrah).
  • 1853-56, Madras Railway, Chief Engineer. "He had then laid out and partly constructed about 500 miles of the Madras railway, he departmental system of carrying out works without the intervention of contractors. From experience gained in Bengal he learned the difficulty of obtaining reliable men of this class and he decided to dispense with them in Madras, taking upon himself the responsibilities and risks of direct construction. He also set himself against the method commonly employed in India of carrying out public works by forced labour, and succeeded by patience and upright dealing in attracting the natives to his works as free labourers. In railway construction he adopted the method of building bridges in sandy foundations upon brick wells sunk by native divers, described in his Paper on the Poiney Viaduct presented to The Institution in 1857" [1].
  • 1856, ill-health compelled his return home to England [1].
  • From 1856 Bruce was established as a consulting engineer in London, from 1888 in partnership with Mr. Robert White.
  • 1856 >>, South Indian Railway Consulting Engineer "for fifty years to the metre-gauge South Indian Railway" [1].
  • 1873 "He took an active part in the 'battle of the gauges' which was fought over the question of the gauge of Indian Railways, and gave rise to long and animated discussions at The Institution in 1873. He was strongly opposed to the introduction of a gauge other than the standard of 5 feet 6 inches which then existed, and although in later years he had to do with both the broad and the narrow gauges, he always maintained that a grave error had been made in introducing the latter" [1].
  • 1894 >>, Great Indian Peninsula Railway and the Indian Midland Railway Consulting Engineer [1], these two railways were amalgamated in 1901.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Grace's Guide "George Barclay Bruce"; Retrieved on 19 Jun 2016