|See||Frederick Dibblee's early career
Frederick Dibblee's career in India
Frederick Dibblee's Employment Record
Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary
Early Indian railway maps
Click on the railway names, below, for a few facts about each railway. To find out where places are, see railway map of 1882 and railway map of 1909. Much of Frederick Dibblee's work was railway surveying, and some of the railways may never have been built.
The dates are taken from Frederick Dibblee's Employment Record or his Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary. These overlap during his career in India, but the dates sometimes disagree by a few months. I have taken his Employment Record where this happens as it is the longer and more detailed record.
|1856||Canada||European and North American Railway|
|1863||Brazil||São Paulo Railway|
|1864||Prussia||East Prussian Railway|
|1864, November||Madras||Great Southern of India||Madras||Chennai|
|1868, August||Carnatic Railway|
|1874 February 24th||Punjab||Indus Valley State Railway|
|1874, March 16th||Mooltan||Multan|
|1874, April 17th||Gotki division|
|1875, May 18th||Upper Sindh section|
|1875, December 24th||Mehur division||Mehar|
|1876, October 19th||Lower Sindh section|
|1876, December 2nd||Mehur division|
|1877, March 31st||Kotri division|
|1879, September 27th||Punjab Northern State Railway|
|1879, October 3rd||Jhelum division|
|1880, June 7th||Rawal-Pindi section||Rawalpindi|
|1880, September 30th||Princely state|
|Scindia State Railway||Gwalior and Jhansi division survey|
|1881, March 26th||Delhi and Ferozepore Railway survey||Firozpur|
|1881, October 22nd||Bengal|
|1881, November 21st||Nagpur Railway survey||working near Bilaspur||Nagpur|
|1882, May 26th||Bombay||Mumbai|
|1882, June 5th||Southern Mahratta Railways|
|1882, October 1st||Western Deccan Railway survey|
|1883, October 13th||Madras||Nellore Tirupati Railway survey|
|1883||Cuddapah Nellore State Railway||Kadapa|
|1885, October 31st||Benares Cuttack Puri Railway survey||Sumbulpore division||Sambalpur|
|1886, November||Burma||Toungoo-Mandalay Railway||Mandalay|
|1888, September||India||died in Calcutta on his way to|
Desert Railway survey
From Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary: Frederick Dibblee began his apprenticeship to the profession of Civil Engineering in 1856 as a pupil under Mr. Alexander Luders Light, at that time Chief Engineer of the European and North American Railway in New Brunswick. Mr. Dibblee first assisted in completing the surveys, and afterwards, until 1861, had charge of a 10-mile section comprising heavy works.
See Wikipedia's artle on the European and North American Railway.
Construction of this railway started in 1853, heading northeast from Saint John up the Kennebecasis River valley. Unfortunately construction did not proceed very far and the company went bankrupt in 1856 with the colonial government of New Brunswick taking over the company’s line in 1857. The first section of the E&NA opened between Shediac and Moncton on August 20, 1857, a distance of 16.8 miles. The line was soon extended 2 miles east to the better wharf facilities at Point du Chene. Meanwhile the line between Hampton, New Brunswick and Saint John opened in 1859 and the remaining section between Moncton and Hampton was opened in 1860.
From Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary: Frederick Dibblee was next engaged for two years [1861-1863], by the same engineer, on the explorations for the Intercolonial Railway.
See Wikipedia's artle on the Intercolonial Railway.
There were three routes surveyed, one of which went through Moncton.
This railway had a notable effect on Frederick Dibblee's life. His boss, Alexander Luders Light, had expected to be made chief engineer on the project, which might have kept Frederick Dibblee in Canada. However, someone else was appointed, and Alexander Luders Light went to work in Brazil, taking his engineers with him (see Frederick Dibblee's early career).
Either this railway or the European and North American Railway must also have been how Frederick Dibblee met his future wife, Emily Binney. She lived in Moncton (Frederick Dibblee lived in Fredericton) and her father, Stephen Binney took an active interest in railways and backed those who wanted the Intercolonial Railway to pass through Moncton.
From Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary: The surveys of the Intercolonial line having been interrupted, Mr. Dibblee was employed by Mr. (now Sir) James Brunlees, Past President Inst. C.E., for nearly a year [1863-1864] on the construction of the São Paulo Railway in Brazil.
See Wikipedia's artle on the São Paulo Railway.
See Mike's Railway History for a description of the line, and the efforts of the engineer Daniel Fox to build it.
See Frederick Dibblee's Brazilian passport.
From Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary: In 1864, Frederick Dibblee had experience under Mr. (now Sir) George Bruce, Past President Inst. C.E., of continental methods, as Engineer-in-Charge, for eight months, of a division of the East Prussian Railway under construction.
George Bruce worked on the East Prussian Railway from Pillau (now Baltiysk, east of Gdansk) to the Russian frontier. Frederick Dibblee's work must have satisfied George Bruce, as he subsequently sent him out to India.
See Frederick Dibblee's European passport.
From Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary: Mr. Dibblee was next sent by Mr. Bruce to Madras, in a similar capacity, on the Great Southern of India Railway in November 1864. In India he found his proper sphere, and the remainder of his career was passed in that country, in active and continuous employment, mostly on railway work. After being District Engineer on the Great Southern of India for a year and a half, he became Chief Engineer, a position he continued to hold until August 1868.
The Great Southern of India Railway Company was incorporated in Britain in 1858. The company received a guarantee from the Secretary of State for India for a 5% return on £500,000 which was to be used to construct a railway line from Nagapattinam (formerly Negapatam) to Tiruchirapalli (formerly Trichinopoly), along with several branch lines. The company’s guarantee was given amidst political controversy. Lord Stanley took over from Sir Charles Wood as Secretary of State for India, whereupon he reversed his predecessor’s policy, and starting granting guarantees to the smaller branch line railway companies. The Great Southern of India Railway Company was one of the first companies to benefit. Construction began on the line shortly after the company’s incorporation, and by 1860, the Nagapattinam to Tiruchirapalli line was nearing completion.
On the right is Madras Central station in 1868.
The Great Southern of India was a small railway in southern India that existed between 1862 till 1872
when it joined forces with the Carnatic Railway to become the South Indian
Railway. The original Great Southern lines were all broad gauge, but they
were converted to meter gauge in 1872. The Great Southern's line ran from Negapatnam (now Nagapattinam) and
Trichnopoly (now Tiruchirappalli). Today, both cities are in India's Tamil Nadu state.
Frederick Dibblee's three oldest children were born in Trichinopoly, in 1866, 1867 and 1868.
From Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary: Mr. Dibblee in August 1868 became Chief Engineer of the Carnatic Railway, also in the Madras Presidency.
In 1862 the Indian Tramway Company was formed for building short lines around Madras, with a 20-year subsidy. This suffered losses later, was reorganized to become the Carnatic Railway and finally was taken over by the South Indian Railway. The few lines the Carnatic Railway had were in what is now Tamil Nadu, India's southern-most state.
In 1874, the Great Southern of India Railway Company (see above) and the Carnatic Railway Company were amalgamated to form the South Indian Railway Company. Railway construction continued unabated. A considerable number of additional lines were opened in the following decade, including the line between Cuddalore and Thanjavur via Chennai. In 1891, the South Indian Railway Company’s contract expired and the state purchased all the lines.
In 1873, Frederick Dibblee came to England for a holiday, and in 1874, he entered the Public Works Department of the Government of India. Either there was not a job for him in the new firm, or he decided that he wanted a different type of employment. He did return to Southern India in 1883.
I don't know exactly where this railway was. If you know, please contact me.
Clipping from the Times, Feb 1, 1871
From Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary: In the 24th of March, 1874, [Frederick Dibblee] entered the Public Works Department of India, as Executive Engineer, Ghotki Division, Indus Valley State Railway.
From Employment record: Frederick Dibblee was appointed an Executive Engineer, 2nd Grade and posted to Indus Valley State Railway, 24th February 1874. Arrived at Mooltan on 16th March 1874. Joined Gotki division, 17th April 1874 and took over charge of the division from W. Scott on 27th April 1874. Received charge of the current duties of the office of Superintending Engineer, Upper Sindh district, on 18th May 1875. Transferred to Mehur division 24th December 1875. Granted two months' privilege leave, 19th August 1876. Temporarily transferred to office of Superintending Engineer, Lower Sindh district, 19th October 1876. Retransferred to Mehur division, 2nd December 1876 and to Kotri division 31st March 1877. Was in charge of the current duties of Superintending Engineer from 4th to 14th May 1877. Was on privilege leave from 12th November to 21st December 1878.
In 1878 the Indus Valley State Railway opened Multan-Kotri line.
To make the railway linking Lahore to Multan in the mid-nineteenth century, British engineers smashed bricks to build the railway bed. These came from crumbling buildings and rubble heaps in a town called Harappa, halfway between the two cities. Unknown at the time, these bricks came from the ancient Harappa civilisation, 4,600 years ago. Frederick Dibblee didn't work on this part of the line! His work was south of Multan, not north.
From Employment record: Frederick Dibblee was transferred to Punjab Northern State railway 27th September 1879. Joined Jhelum division, 3rd October 1879. Promoted to Executive Engineer 1st grade, 1st January 1880. Appointed to act as Engineer-in-Chief of the Rawal-Pindi section of Punjab Northern State Railway, 7th June 1880. Promoted to Superintending Engineer 3rd class (officiating), from that date. On privilege leave from 5th August to 26th September 1880. Specially mentioned and rewarded by Government of India for satisfactorily carrying to completion the works of the Rawal-Pindi section of the Punjab Northern State railway, Government order No.854-68RC, dated 11th November 1880.
The Punjab Northern State Railway was the first in India begun under direct Government agency. Lahore to Karachi were connected in 1878 as a result of the completion of the Indus State Railway, and the Punjab Northern State Railway joined Lahore and Peshawar in 1883.
From Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary: Scindia S. Ry., Gwalior-Jhansi Surv. Div., November 1880.
From Employment record: Frederick Dibblee was transferred to Gwalior and Jhansi Survey division, 30th September 1880 until 26th March 1881.
Gwalior and Jhansi were in the Princely State of Gwalior. The Maharaja of Gwalior was from the Scindia family ruled Gwalior until India's independence from the United Kingdom in 1947. He developed an extensive narrow two foot gauge network of Railways in his state. The banqueting table in his palace had a silver model train which delivered liquers and cigars to his guests (see below).
In 1889, the Indian Midland Railway opened lines from Jhansi to Gwalior, Kanpur, Manikpur and Bhopal.
Central Railway (India) was formed on November 5, 1951 by grouping several government-owned railways, including the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, and the Scindia State Railway of the former princely state of Gwalior.
From Employment record: Frederick Dibblee was appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the Delhi and Ferozepore Railway Survey, 26th March 1881. Granted special leave for three months, 6th August 1881. Appointed Superintending Engineer, 3rd class (officiating) 24th July 1881. Placed at the disposal of the Government of Bengal for employment in the Railway branch, 22nd October 1881 which finished his time working in the Punjab.
From 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica: The south-east of the province (Punjab) is served by two branches of the Rajputana system, which have their termini at Delhi and Ferozepore.. The Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary said that Frederick Dibblee died at Calcutta on the 28th of September, 1888, having just been posted to join Mr. Horace Bell's staff for the Desert Railway survey in Rajpootana. The Indian obituary says he was on his way to join the Delhi-Kotri Survey at this point.
Nagpur Railway survey
From Employment record: Frederick Dibblee was placed at the disposal of the Government of Bengal for employment in the Railway branch, 22nd October 1881. Reverted to Executive Engineer, 1st grade, 9th November 1881. Posted to Nagpore Railway Survey, 21st November 1881. Transferred as a temporary measure from the establishment under the Government of Bengal to that under the Government of Bombay Railways, 26th May 1882.
From story in 'The Indian Engineer': Frederick Dibblee came to a place which is called Katgora, nigh unto the city of Bilaspur, which is chiefest of the cities which are in the provinces that are in the midst of the land.
The Great Indian Famine happened in 1878. The Bengal Nagpur Railway was built afterwards for future famines. The metre gauge Nagpur-Chhattisgarh Railway was formed in 1880, primarily to carry relief and foodgrains from Chhattisgarh to the famine-affected areas in Vidarva (now Vidarbha). A 149-mile-long (240 km) rail link between Nagpur and Rajnandgaon was opened to traffic between 1880 and 1882. The Bengal Nagpur Railway later came to be known as the South Eastern Railway.
Elephant shunting a train
on the Bengal-Nagpur railway
In 1888, an amusing anecdote was published in 'The Indian Engineer', about Frederick Dibblee shooting some cows thinking they were bears. This happened near Bilaspur while doing this survey. It gives some idea of the group of people who travelled with Frederick Dibblee when he was doing his surveys.
On the right is an elephant engaged in shunting operations on the Bengal-Nagpur Railway. The amusing story (which is in a mock-Biblical style) refers to Behemoths, that great beast. These could be elephants, or possibly just water buffalo.
Southern Mahratta Railways
From Employment record: Frederick Dibblee was transferred as a temporary measure from the establishment under the Government of Bengal to that under the Government of Bombay Railways, 26th May 1882 Received charges from the Consulting Engineer for Railways, of the Office of the Engineer-in-chief, Southern Mahratta Railways, 5th June 1882. Promoted to Superintending Engineer 3rd class - Officiating from 27th May 1882. Promoted to Superintending Engineer 3rd class, temporary rank, 20th July 1882. Temporary promotion is cancelled from 20th August 1882.
In 1882, the Southern Mahratta Railway Company was started on the basis of the railway belonging to the State, but being worked, and the funds being supplied, by the company. A guarantee was given on the capital of 4% for 7 years, and 3.5% subsequently, together with a fourth share to the company of the profits.
The Southern Mahratta Railway Company later became merged with the Madras Railway in 1907 to become the Madras & Southern Mahratta . The Madras & Southern Mahratta was one of the most important railways in India but its headquarters were in London, not India, probably because it was financed by British investors. Its lines ran from Madras [now Chennai] in southern India to Mangalore on India's south-western coast. In 1951, the Madras & Southern Mahratta became part of Southern Railway. The Southern Railway of India still exists and transports millions of people every day. As the name suggests, it is in southern India. This railway's headquarters is in Madras [now Chennai].
Engineers Inspection Coach, South Mahratta Railway
print provided by David Martin
Originally, I wasn't sure where this South Mahratta Railway was (as opposed to the later railways). These people have given me the following information.
Ophelia De Laine Gona contacted me in 2012 to say "I believe the Southern Mahratta Railway was a railway built around 1883 to go from Guntakal to Visaskapathnam. It passed by the town of Nandyal and went eastward through the Nandikanama Pass in the Nallamala Hills of India's Eastern Ghats."
Keith Scholey contacted me in 2012 to say "As opened in 1884-5, the Southern Mahratta Railway ran from Bellary to Dharwar (now known as Dharwad), definitely not as your informant says from Guntakal to Vizag, and now forms part of the Guntakal-Hubli-Goa route of South Western Railway (zone of Indian Railways). Mahratta is the old English transliteration (it was archaic in 1908 when the online version of the Imperial Gazetteer of India was written) for Marathi, the ethnic group of Maharashtra State. Southern Maratha country (also known as the Bombay Carnatic) was a geographical rather than administrative term refering to the Bombay Districts of Belgaum, Bijapur, Dharwar and part of North Kanara together with Kolhapur State and other 'native states' (basically its the bit inland from Goa). This is now mostly in Karnataka (the Kannada speaking State), and had became "Maratha" due to its being part of the Maratha Empire until the British arrived."
From Employment record: Frederick Dibblee was appointed Engineer-in-chief, Western Decan Railway Survey, 1st October 1882. Reverted to Executive Engineer, 1st grade, from 12th November 1882.
The Western Deccan Railway was later incorporated with the Southern Mahratta and built as its Western Deccan Section. It is currently the Londa-Poona line, administered by the Central and South Western Railways (zones) of Indian Railways.
From Employment record: Frederick Dibblee reverted to Executive Engineer, 1st grade, from 12th November 1882. Transferred to Tirupati Nellore Railway. Relieved of his duties on 11th October 1883. Reported departure from Poona on the afternoon of the 10th, and reported arrival at Bellary on the 11th, and proceeded to Madras on the 13th October 1883. Transferred from the Establishment under the Government of Bombay to that under the Government of Madras for employment as Engineer-in-Chief of the Nellore-Tirupati Railway Survey. The Secretary of State has been pleased to sanction the addition of three years to his pensionable service .
From Employment record: Government of India sanctioned charge allowance of Rs 100 per mensem [to Frederick Dibblee] for holding the position of the Engineer in Chief Cuddhapa-Nellore State railway. [He was] promoted temporarily to Superintending Engineer, 3rd class, from 16th October 1884. Reverted to Executive Engineer, 1st grade permanent from 6th December 1884. Privilege leave for three months sanctioned from date of making over charge. Relieved on 20th July 1885.
The Cuddapah Nellore State Railway was being built in 1890. There is a letter relieving Frederick Dibblee from charge of the Cuddhapa-Nellore railway.
From Employment record: Frederick Dibblee was relieved on 20th July 1885. Transferred from Bengal on return from leave. Transferred in the interests of the public service from the establishment under the Director-General of Railways to that under the Government of Bengal. Posted to Benares-Cuttch-Puri Railways Surveys, Sumbulpore division, which he joined on the afternoon of the 31st October 1885.
The Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary refers to Frederick Dibblee working on the Orissa Railway survey. Sambalpur is a city in the western portion of India's Orissa state.
In 1893, Cuttack - Khurda Road - Puri line was opened by the East Coast Railway.
From Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary: Charge Mandalay Div., T.M. Ry., November 1886... [He worked] in Burma on the Tounghoo-Mandalay Railway. He died at Calcutta on the 28th of September, 1888, having just been posted to join Mr. Horace Bell's staff for the Desert Railway survey in Rajpootana.
The Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885) lasted one month as far as capturing the capital Mandalay was concerned. The railway from Rangoon to Toungoo, which had opened early in 1885, meant that British troops invading the kingdom were able to begin their journey by train. British forces spent at least another four years pacifying the country. By some accounts, minor insurrections did not end until 1896.
The line from Rangoon running north-eastwards towards Pegu, Toungoo and Mandalay finally opened throughout in 1889.
Frederick Dibblee's Canadian obituary says he was on railway construction in Burmah, during the late rebellion in that country, and on one occasion several of his men were murdered by Dacoits.
From Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary: Frederick Dibblee died at Calcutta on the 28th of September, 1888, having just been posted to join Mr. Horace Bell's staff for the Desert Railway survey in Rajpootana.
From Obituary in Indian newspaper: Frederick Dibblee was on his way to join the Delhi-Kotri Survey, having come from the Toungoo-Mandalay Railway, in which climate he, without doubt, contracted the fever which led to his death here in Calcutta.
© Jo Edkins 2008 - Return to Dibblee index