Beamish, Richard 1798 - 1873

Irish; British

(1798-1873), civil engineer

Richard Beamish, born on the 16th July 1798 in Cork, Ireland, was sent to a school at Clifton aged 10, but owing to the difficulties of communication between Cork and Bristol in those days, it was some time before he returned to Ireland. His holidays were spent in Doddershall Park, in Buckinghamshire, under the roof of Colonel Pigott.

From Clifton he went to the Royal Military Academy, then located at Marlow, and took a place in mathematics, in drawing, and in other subjects of examination. In 1815 he went with his regiment to Belgium, and served with the army of occupation in France, returning to England in 1816. After some time in Beaumont and Ireland, in 1826 he arrived in London, and visited Mr. Alexander Nimmo, who introduced him to Mr. Telford, the then President of the Institution of Civil Engineers. In June 1826 he was particularly recommended to Mr. Brunel, an introduction which led to his being received on the works of the Thames Tunnel for a month on trial; and in August he was appointed an assistant to Mr. I. K. Brunel, the Resident Engineer. Beamish wrote a 'Memoir of Sir M. I. Brunel,' published in 1866.

Before the closing of the Thames Tunnel works, in July 1828, Beamish‘s father died, leaving him a considerable patrimony; but the untimely death of the lady whom he had hoped to marry caused him to seek relief from his sorrow in active professional work. He was soon employed as Engineer for Cork and the neighbouring counties. At the end of 1834 Mr. Beamish accepted, at the request of the Brunels, the position of Resident Engineer at the Thames Tunnel, Mr. I. K. Brunel having by this time risen to a high professional position, and being in extensive employment. In 1836 he was admitted a Fellow of the Royal Society; and for some years after he lived in comparative retirement.

In 1845, at the request of Mr. I. K. Brunel, he undertook to prepare the parliamentary plans of the Cork and Waterford railway. Beamish at this time suffered great pecuniary losses from most unlooked-for causes, and, becoming anxious for professional employment, was appointed by Mr. Brunel Resident Engineer for the construction of the Gloucester and Forest of Dean railway. The completion of this work in 1850 ended Mr. Beamish’s engineering career.

The latter years of Mr. Beamish‘s life, from 1865 to 1872, were passed in retirement in the Isle of Wight, and in the village of Woolston, near Southampton. Beamish was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 27th of January 1829. His published works are, 'Popular Instruction on the Calculation of Probabilities, translated from the French of A. Quetelet,' 1839 (two editions); 'Statistical Account of the Town and Parish of Cheltenham' (read before the British Association in 1856); and 'A Memoir of the Life of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel,' 1866 (two editions).

Beamish bore the sufferings entailed by the progress of a disease with patience and equanimity. Expecting to find a milder climate, he removed from Woolston to Bournemouth, and died there on the 20th of November 1873.