Francis Webb Sheilds
|Francis Webb Sheilds|
8 October 1820|
|Died||18 January 1906
|Other names||Francis Webb Wentworth-Sheilds|
|Known for||Sydney Railway Company|
|Spouse(s)||Adelaide Baker (m.1860)|
|Parent(s)||Rev. Wentworth Sheilds
|Relatives||John Gore Sheilds (brother)|
In Great Britain and Ireland, Sheilds worked on a number of railway projects, including the then 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) Dublin and Kingstown Railway. He considered himself to be a born railway engineer.
Sydney Railway Company Engineer
Sheilds main claim to fame is that he persuaded the Company, the Government and the other two mainland colonies, Victoria and South Australia, to change the gauge of these railways from 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) to 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm), Sheilds being Irish and 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) being the Irish gauge, leading via tortuous steps to the national break of gauge.
He resigned in 1850 when his pay was cut due to financial difficulties of the Company.
Sheilds' recommendation, helped by the Board of Trade, is the origin of all the breaks of gauge between 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) and 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) in Australia. Having shown that gauge wasn't all that important, other states including parts of South Australia adopted the supposedly cheaper narrow gauge of 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm).
- Obituary. Francis Webb Wentworth-Sheilds, 1820-1906.
- Burke's Peerage assumed by Royal licence the prefix surname Wentworth 1877
- "Death of the Archdeacons Father". Wagga Wagga Express. NSW: National Library of Australia. 6 March 1906. p. 2. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- "ABSTRACT OF THE EVIDENCE TAKEN BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS, &c.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 13 July 1848. p. 2. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
- "SYDNEY.". The Courier. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 10 March 1849. p. 2. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- "Advertising.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 13 December 1850. p. 1. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- Wentworth-Sheilds Family History details
- Hagarty, Donald; Australian Railway Historical Society. New South Wales Division (2005), The building of the Sydney Railway : the known story of the work of six men – a naval surveyor, four engineers, and the contractor who, with many others, built the first railway from Sydney to Parramatta 1848–1857, Australian Railway Historical Society, New South Wales Division, ISBN 978-0-9757870-1-4
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