William Frederick Faviell

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William Frederick Faviell (1822-1902)

Railway Acheivements in India and Ceylon

The following is taken from 'Grace's Guide' 1902 Obituary <ref>'Grace's Guide' - "William Frederick Faviell"

Great Indian Peninsula Railway

  • 1850: Mr. Faviell joined Mr. Henry Fowler, brother of Sir John Fowler, Past-President, and sent in a tender for the first railway contract in Western India, from Bombay to Tanna, which tender was accepted by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company.
  • 1851: Mr. Fowler left for Bombay in December, 1850, and after collecting materials and assistants for the work Mr. Faviell followed in February, 1851, to actively prosecute the work, which, though not, a long or a heavy contract, was a new and strange enterprise to carry out in that country. Mr. Fowler’s health failed after a few months’ exposure to the climate of India, and compelled his return to England. The execution of the contract then devolved entirely upon Mr. Faviell, and was completed to the satisfaction of the Company, the line being opened for traffic on the 16th April, 1853. That was the first line of railway opened for public traffic in India, and in its construction the first locomotive engine used in Asia was introduced on the 23rd February, 1852, for ballasting the line near Bombay.
  • 1854: Early in 1854 Mr. Faviell returned with his family to England, to recruit his health, which had suffered from exposure to the sun in directing the operations on that contract.

Bhore Ghat Railway Construction

  • 1855: In November, 1855, Mr. Faviell again left England for Bombay, as the Directors of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway had accepted his tender for the construction of the Bhor Ghat Railway Incline, 15 miles in length, and the continuation of the railway from the top of the incline toP oona, a distance of 40 miles. The works on the Bhor Ghat Incline were of great magnitude, and the line into Poona contained a large amount of masonry and several large viaducts. They were pushed on with great vigour, and nearly 20,000 men were engaged at one time.
  • 1857. The memorable year of the mutiny, which broke out in May, 1857. Although Bombay and Western India were not the scene of much actual fighting, yet the regulations found necessary by the Government in reference to labour and transport aat great crisis, proved a severe check to the operations. The number of work-people available was much reduced, and the price both of material and labour seriously advanced. The contractor persevered, however, and in 1858 finished 3 miles of the Bhor Ghat Incline, and the 40 miles on to Poona, opened for traffic from Khandalla to Poona in that year. There was still a considerable amount of work to be done on 12 miles of the lower part of the Bhor Ghat Incline, and as labour was now more difficult to procure, and the cost greater than the contract prices, the contractor made application to the Acting Board of Directors in Bombay for an increase on the rates, which being refused, Mr. Faviell surrendered his contract, being paid for all the work and materials to that date on the contract terms.
  • 1859-61: In the meantime the Board of Directors in England, under the advice of Mr. Robert Stephenson, the Consulting Engineer, had consented to an increase on the contractor’s terms; but there being no telegraph to India at that time, the information did not reach Bombay until the day after Mr. Faviell’s departure by steamer for England in May, 1859. Mr. Faviell’s health was so much injured by the great strain and anxiety of the previous four years, that the change to England was necessary, and it was not until 1861 that he felt strongen ough to make two or three journeys to Spain, for the purpose of taking up some railway works in that country, which, however, he did not succeed in obtaining on satisfactory terms.

Ceylon Government Railway.

  • 1862-67: At the close of 1862 the Crown Agents for the Colonies accepted, on behalf of the Government of Ceylon, Mr. Faviell’s tender for the construction of 73 miles of a very difficult railway in that country, and in February, 1863, he left England with a large staff to carry out that important work. The railway-the first constructed in Ceylon-runs from Colombo to Kandy, and, as many who have travelled upon the line since its completion may have noticed, the country at the foot of the hills between 30 and 50 miles from Colombo, is full of rank vegetation, and malaria so infested the district that many lives were sacrificed, and the progress of the works constantly interrupted before this portion of the railway could be completed. The heavy works and tunnels on the Kadugannawa Incline, of 1 in 45 for 12 miles, also involved much anxiety and responsibility to the contractor. The whole line was completed to Kandy and opened through for traffic in August, 1867, and Mr. Faviell returned to England in the following September, much broken in health by continued attacks of ague and fever, which clung to him for some years.