Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Railway engineer and connoisseur. John Chaloner Smith, eldest son of John Smith, a proctor of the Irish Ecclesiastical Courts, was born at St Stephen's Green, Dublin,(1) on 19 August 1827. He was admitted to Trinity College, Dublin, in 1844 and received the BA degree in the spring of 1849.(2) He was then apprenticed to GEORGE WILLOUGHBY HEMANS GEORGE WILLOUGHBY HEMANS , who appointed him resident engineer for the Waterford & Limerick Railway on 5 December 1853. From 1857 he was also resident engineer for the Waterford & Kilkenny Railway.(3) For some time he ran a successful railway contracting partnership in partnership with John J. Bagnell. Among the projects undertaken by Smith & Bagnell were the Borris and Ballywilliam line (opened 1862), the Clara and Streamstown line (opened 1863), and the Roscrea and Birdhill line (opened 1863 and 1864).

On 27 February 1868, Smith took up the appointment of engineer to the Dublin, Wicklow & Wexford Railway. By 1871 he had been promoted to chief engineer.(3) He remained with the company for over twenty five years, during which he was responsible for the New Ross extension, the doubling of the Kingstown and Dalkey line and the diversion of the railway round Bray Head.(4) He was the first person to promote the construction of a line to connect the company's Westland Row terminus with the terminus of the Great Northern Railway of Ireland at Amiens Street. The Dublin Loop Line, jointly designed and supervised by Smith and WILLIAM HEMINGWAY MILLS WILLIAM HEMINGWAY MILLS , chief engineer of the Great Northern Railway, was eventually built, following the passing of an enabling act of Parliament in 1884. Towards the end of his career he strongly advocated the reduction of railway rates in Ireland. The deterioration of his eyesight over several years forced him to resort to a cataract operation in about 1892, and he retired about two years later.

Smith was a man of cultured interests and was the author of British Mezzotinto Portraits (1871-1882), the definitive catalogue of British mezzotint portrait engravings, accomplished, according to the obituary in the Transactions, 'through diligent early rising, without withdrawing any time from his professional duties'. He formed a large and valuable collection of mezzotint portraits, most of which were sold in 1888.(5) Some are now in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Smith died from angina on 13 March 1895 and was buried in Deansgrange cemetery.(6) He had married Elizabeth Parker in June 1857(7) and was the father of JOHN CHALONER SMITH [2].  JOHN CHALONER SMITH [2].

Inst.CE: elected member 14 January 1862.
ICEI:(7) elected member, 1871; honorary secretary, 1873-1891; founder of Smith Premium Prize, 1884;(8) president, 1893,1894.
RIA: elected member 13 Jan 1868.(9)

Addresses:(10) Work: (Smith & Bagnell) 19 Mount Street Lower, 1863.
Home: St Helen's, Kilbride Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow, <=1883->=1890.



All information in this entry is from the obituaries of Smith in Min.Proc.Inst.CE 122 (1894-95, Pt. IV), 386-7, and TICEI 24 (1895-96),129-131.

(1) Wilson's Dublin Directory for 1827 gives John Smith's address as 120 St Stephen's Green.
(2) G.D. Burtchaell & T.U. Sadleir, eds., Alumni Dublinenses (1935), 760.
(3) According to the obituaries, Smith held the latter post until 1861 when the line was amalgamated with the Waterford & Limerick Railway; however Thom's Directory for 1863 has the two companies listed separately with Smith as engineer to both.
(4) IB 13, 1 Jul 1871, 176.
(5) See note 3, above.
(6) B.O'D.
(7) IB 30, 1 Jun 1888, 156.
(8) Information from Professor Ron Cox.
(9) For a fuller account of Smith's contribution to the affairs of the Institution, see TICEI 24 (1894-95), 64-68. For papers read, see Bibliography.
(10) IB 26, 15 May 1884, ?.
(11) Jones, source not stated.
(12) From Thom's and Post Office directories.

2 work entries listed in chronological order for SMITH, JOHN CHALONER [1]

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Date: 1878
Nature: Reconstruction and enlargement for Dublin, Wicklow & Wexford Railway . With Thomas Newenham Deane.Co. Contractors: Meade & Son?
Refs: IAA, PKS B08/12, B10/31, A06 (Mar 1878); obituary of Smith in TICEI 24 (1895-96), 129

Date: 1884p
Nature: 3-span bridge over River Liffey forming part of Loop Line connecting Westland Row and Amiens Street railway termini. For City of Dublin Junction Railway. Contractor: M. Meade & Sons, Dublin. Structural ironwork by William Arrol, Glasgow.
Refs: R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998),37-38(illus.);  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005),  693.

Author Title Date Details
Smith, John Chaloner 'On the various systems of permanent way' 1872 TICEI 10 (1870-74), 65-78
Smith, John Chaloner 'The prevention of railway accidents' 1874 TICEI 10 (1870-74), 124-152, and IB 16, 1,15 Apr 1874, 104,120.
Smith, John Chaloner 'On the failure of an iron lattice footbridge[at Rathdrum station, Co. Wicklow]' 1875 TICEI 11(1874-6), 9-11
Smith, John Chaloner 'On the form of railway accounts' 1876 TICEI 11 (1874-6), 109-117.
Smith, John Chaloner 'On the practicability of reducing railway rates in Ireland' 1884 TICEI 16 (1884-5), 1-69.
Smith, John Chaloner [Presidential address to ICEI] 1893 TICEI 22 (1892-3), 74-88.