We have a relation of Dick, Charles who is trying to find any information on
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Born at Broughty Ferry in 1838, he served an apprenticeship from 1854
under James How at Monifieth Foundry. After short times as a workman
in the marine-engine shops of J. & G. Thomson on the Clyde and of James Jac
k & Co at Liverpool, he was taken-on in the Crewe erecting shops in August
1860 after walking to that place from Liverpool in search of work.
In 1862, while a chargehand erector, he attracted the attention of young
Webb at the evening classes of the Mechanics Institute where he won a prize.
Webb brought him into the office as a temporary tracer and draughtsman, and
in 1863 he became an established member of the drawing office staff at 8s 4d [42p]
a day. He succeeded Kampf as chief draughtsman on 15 December 1871 at a salary
of £160 a year raised in steps to £225 at the end of 1874 and, as he himself wrote,
with heavy work and long hours. Under his charge were developed the designs of the
Webb Precursors, Precedents and coal engines.
In February 1877 he was appointed manager of the signal department at Crewe; he
had manufacture, installation and maintenance in his care, with much outdoor wor
k along the line in all weathers. G. P. Neele, the LNWR traffic superintendent,
paid him compliments for his signal work in Railway Reminiscences ( 1902).
In February 1882 he succeeded Worsdell as works manager, though the appointment
was still styled indoor assistant. He died on 2 June 1888 of chest and kidney
complaints at the age of 50, but in essence he was worn out by the work and its
responsibilities following his hard and often penurious youth. In reporting his
death to the Locomotive Committee Webb said "he was a very able and faithful
servant of the Company." A grant of six months' salary, less amount paid on
sick leave, was given to his four children aged 23 to 14, for he was a widower.
Dick came to take much part in Crewe local affairs. He was deputy mayor to Webb
in the Jubilee year of 1887, and presided at the public dinner to celebrate the
Queen's Jubilee and Crewe's railway jubilee, for Webb as mayor of the borough
was away at the national thanksgiving service in Westminster Abbey. He was treasure
r of the Mechanics Institute 1875-81. After Dick's death in 1888 a shelter was
erected in the then new Queen's Park i
n memory of him; he himself had supervised the layout of the park.
Webb and Dick always got on well together and were much of an age.
One of Dick's letters preserved long after his death shows him to have
been human and unaffected, and gives a good first-hand account of
Crewe in the mid-1880s.