Horace Bell

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Horace Bell (1839-1903), educated in England and apprenticed in Railway Engineering in Glasgow, Scotland.

Railway Achievements


  • 1862 Dec; Assistant Engineer in the Indian Public Works Department, posted to the Central Provinces on the Great Deccan Road, which formed part of the main line of communication between Calcutta and Bombay; reaching Second Grade Executive Engineer in March, 1869.
  • 1870 Jan; Railway survey work to the Wardha Valley Railway, and was enlisted in the new State Railway Service initiated by Lord Mayo's Government in May, 1870, and posted to the Indore State Railway, receiving promotion to First Grade Executive Engineer in March, 1871.
  • 1874 Dec; after a short term of service on the Punjab Northern State Railway, then under construction, he was transferred in July, 1875, to the Rajputana-Malwa State Railway (see note), then to the Sindia State Railway, and subsequently to the Rutlam Neemuch Nusserabad Railway.
  • 1875 Aug.Superintendent of Way and Works of the Rajputana State Railway. While thus employed he was promoted to Third Class Superintending Engineer in May, 1877, and to the Second Class in June, 1880.
  • 1880 Jul; on leave, during which time he had charge of the students on the practical course at the Royal Indian Engineering College at Coopers Hill
  • 1881 Dec; Engineer-in-Chief of the Dacca Mymensingh State Railway, and early in 1884, was transferred to the Tirhoot State Railway, first as Engineer-in-Chief, and then as both Manager and Engineer-in-Chief.
  • With the exception of a short interval from July to October, 1881, when he officiated as Director of the North Western State Railway, was employed on the Tirhoot State Railway and received the thanks of the Government of India for his services in connection with the construction of the Gunduck Bridge on that line in 1887.
  • 1888; Engineer-in-Chief of the Great Western of India Railway Survey
  • 1889 Feb; Engineer-in-Chief of the Moghal Serai Railway Survey.
  • 1890 Aug; Consulting Engineer for the Railway Board Calcutta. While holding these various appointments he received promotion to Third Class Chief Engineer in November, 1889, Second Class in June, 1891,and First Class in January, 1892.
  • 1892 Consulting Engineer for State Railway Board to the Government of India, which office he held till his retirement in June, 1894. During that period he also acted for a short time as Director General of Railways in India.

This rapid promotion to one of the highest posts in the Public Works Department was an acknowledgment of his technical ability and high administrative capacity. His talents as a writer were great; he was the author of “Laws of Wealth,” a work on political economy, and also of a “Primer on the Government of India,” both written for natives of India, and his “Railway Policy in India” has long been recognised as a standard work on that subject.

A fluent French scholar and a frequent speaker on Indian railway work, it was natural that his interest in India should not cease with his career in the service of Government. He therefore commenced practice, on leaving India, as Consulting Engineer in London, and, among other works, the metre gauge(MG) Nilgri Mountain rack railway and the broad gauge(BG) Southern Punjab Railway were constructed under his guidance.

Note - Graces's Guide quotes from the Inst C.Eng 1903 Obituary for Horace Bell 'he was transferred in July, 1875, to the Rajputana Malwa Railway'. This is not correct the Rajputana-Malwa State Railway was not created until 1881-82, possibly the entry should read Rajputana State Railway where he was posted in August 1875.


  1. "Grace's Guide - Horace Bell”; Retrieved on 16 Apr 2016