Fowke, Francis 1823 - 1865

1823-1865, engineer; architect, British

Born Belfast, studied at Royal Military Academy at Woolwich 1839-1842; commissioned in Royal Engineers; noted draughtsman; served in Bermuda, then Plymouth; superintended the machinery section of the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1855; led to close association with the head of the British Commission, Henry Cole, who was inspector-general (later secretary) of the Department of Science and Art in London; Fowke appointed 1856 officially made an inspector in 1857; appointed architect and engineer in 1860; 1862 appointed superintendent of construction of the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum) and in 1863 science referee for the museum; experimented with gas lighting in galleries; between 1860 and 1865 he designed and erected several new buildings for the museum; designed several museums and galleries; invented a widely-used bellows camera, a portable military fire-engine and a collapsible canvass pontoon; died at South Kensington Museum in 1865.