Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson

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Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson

Birthplace: London Borough of Islington, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Death: March 05, 1934 (92)
Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
Place of Burial: Christchurch, New Zealand
Immediate Family:

Son of Edward Dobson and Mary Ann Dobson
Husband of Eleanor Dobson
Father of Arthur George Dobson; Edith Eleanor Dobson; Beatrice Mary Sandall; Charles Dudley Dobson; Cecil Gordon Dobson and 2 others
Brother of George Dobson; Caroline Todhunter; Edward Henry Dobson; Maria Eliza Weedon; Robert Dobson and 5 others

Occupation: Explorer, Engineer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson

Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson (9 September 1841 – 5 March 1934) was a pioneer surveyor, engineer and explorer. Born in London, he came to Lyttelton, New Zealand in 1850 on one of the First Four Ships. He is best known for taking the first party of Europeans over Arthur's Pass. Arthur was born in 1841. He was the son of Edward Dobson and Mary Lough. Arthur died of cardiac failure in March, 1934 and is buried in the Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ, (Block 18, Plot 227). Arthur Dudley Dobson (1841–1934), Edward Dobson (1847–1934), and George Dobson (1840–66) were the sons of Edward Dobson (1816–1908), who arrived at Lyttelton in the Cressy on 27 December 1850 with Arthur and George, their mother arriving, with the rest of the family, on the Fatima in 1851. Finding it difficult to settle down in Canterbury with two small sons, Dobson in 1851 sent Arthur and George to stay with their uncle, the Rev. Charles Dobson, Vicar of Buckland, Prossers Plains, Tasmania, where they remained for three years.In 1854 Edward Dobson was appointed Surveyor for Canterbury Province and, as money was more plentiful, the Dobson boys were enrolled in a small church school, later to become Christ's College. In 1859–60 Arthur was employed in surveying work in Lyttelton, having charge of boring operations to establish the depth of the mud in the harbour bed. He was also engaged in surveying roads near Kaiapoi and Rangiora, and in the survey work connected with the proposed Lyttelton-Christchurch railway tunnel. Later he worked on a survey scheme for draining 18,000 acres of the Rangiora Swamp formed by the Eyre and Cust Rivers. In 1860 he assisted on the survey of the upper waters of the Hurunui and Lake Sumner, being associated with John Henry Whitcombe, then Government Engineer in North Canterbury. In 1861 Arthur marked out the line for the main south road from Riccarton to the Rangitata River, and surveyed the road line from Timaru to Waitaki River. In 1863 Arthur travelled on the West Coast, then unknown country, surveying a block extending from Grey River to Abut Head, and inland to the main range. Arthur spent seven months surveying on the West Coast, and then returned to Christchurch to report. Other surveyors were indignant that such work was given to a boy, but Thomas Cass the Chief Surveyor, was very pleased and offered him further contracts. Arthur Dobson, in 1867–68, opened up country in the Waimea and Motueka Valley, and surveyed a foot track over the Mt.Arthur Range. In April 1869 he was appointed District Engineer on the Nelson—West Coast goldfields with headquarters at Westport, and in 1871 he succeeded Blackett as Chief Surveyor for Nelson Province. The General Government appointed him Nelson District Engineer in 1875, and in this capacity he was in charge of all railway constructions in the area. In 1878 Arthur Dobson left Westport and joined his father in private practice in Christchurch. Arthur visited England in 1885 to raise capital for the Midland Railway Co. On his return to New Zealand in September 1885 Arthur Dobson found little work awaiting him. He therefore went to Australia where he entered into partnership for the construction of the Warrnambool breakwater designed by Sir John Coode. On the completion of this project he did survey work for the Victoria Railway Department. Dobson lost considerable money when a financial crisis closed all but two Victorian banks, and this misfortune led him in 1898 to return to New Zealand. In 1901 Dobson was appointed City Engineer in Christchurch, and held the post until 1921. There were 40 miles of streets when he began, and by the end of his service there were 175, while the population had doubled. He completed Sydenham Waterworks, and also began to tar seal the city streets. He built the Colombo Street and Fitzgerald Avenue bridges over the Avon, the Colombo Street bridge over the Heathcote, and also designed and supervised the construction of the bridge over the Waimakariri on the Great North Road. A tardy recognition of the Dobson family's services to New Zealand came in 1930, when Arthur, the senior survivor of the brothers, was knighted. He died on 5 March 1934, a man who had done much to open up the lands and resources of three provinces. He had come to Christchurch on the first ship, and yet lived to see the Lyttelton-Christchurch railway electrified. An obelisk by the road running westwards from Arthur's Pass stands today as a memorial to him.

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Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson's Timeline

September 9, 1841
London Borough of Islington, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
September 6, 1867
Nelson, New Zealand
July 31, 1869
Nelson, New Zealand
June 7, 1871
Westport, New Zealand
June 8, 1873
March 20, 1875
Nelson, New Zealand
December 15, 1876
Westport, West Coast, New Zealand
December 29, 1880
March 5, 1934
Age 92
Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand