Sir Charles Fox

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Charles Fox

Birthplace: Derby, UK
Death: June 11, 1874 (64)
Blackheath, London, UK
Immediate Family:

Son of Dr. Francis Fox and Charlotte Douglas
Husband of Mary Fox
Father of Sir Douglas Fox; #1 Son Fox; #2 Son Fox; #3 Son Fox; #1 Daughter Fox and 2 others
Brother of #1 Son Fox; #2 Fox and #3 Fox

Managed by: Terry Jackson (Switzer)
Last Updated:

About Sir Charles Fox

Sir Charles Fox

From Wikipaedia

(11 March 1810, Derby, United Kingdom – 11 June 1874) was an English civil engineer and contractor. His work focused on railways, railway stations and bridges.


Born in Derby in 1810, he was the youngest of four sons of Dr. Francis Fox. Initially trained to follow his father's career, he abandoned medical training at the age of 19 and became articled to John Ericsson of Liverpool, working with him and John Braithwaite on the Novelty locomotive, which he drove in the Rainhill trials on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. He acquired a taste for locomotive driving and was employed on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, being present at its opening.

In 1830 Fox married Mary, second daughter of Joseph Brookhouse, by whom he had 3 sons and a daughter.


One of his earliest inventions, patented in 1832, was the railway switch (points in the UK), which superseded the sliding rail used up to that time.

A contemporary engraving of Denbigh Hall skew Bridge on the London and Birmingham Railway. In 1837 Robert Stephenson appointed him as one of the engineers on the London and Birmingham Railway, where he was responsible for Watford tunnel and the incline down from Camden Town to Euston. He presented an important paper on the correct principles of skew arches to the Royal Institution. In 1837 Herbert Spencer, whose father George Spencer had been Fox's tutor when young, joined him as an assistant engineer.

Fox then entered into partnership with the contractor Joseph Bramah to form the company Bramah, Fox and Co., which when Bramah retired became Fox, Henderson and Co., of London, Smethwick, and Renfrew. The company specialised in railway equipment, including wheels, bridges, roofs, cranes, tanks and permanent way materials. It also experimented with components for suspension and girder bridges, with Fox reading a paper before the Royal Society in 1865. The company was responsible for many important station roofs including Liverpool Tithebarn Street, (1849–50), Bradford Exchange (1850), Paddington and Birmingham New Street.

Crystal Palace

The 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde ParkFox and Henderson's expertise with structural ironwork led Joseph Paxton to invite them to build The Crystal Palace for The Great Exhibition of 1851. Due to its innovative modular design and construction techniques, it was ready in nine months. For their work, Fox, Cubitt and Paxton were knighted on 23 October 1851.[2] After the exhibition they were employed by the Crystal Palace Company to move the structure to Sydenham, re-erecting and enlarging it on Sydenham Hill, thereafter known as Crystal Palace.

In 1857 he left the company to practise as a civil and consulting engineer with two of his sons, Douglas and Francis, and in 1860 formed a partnership with his two sons, the firm being known as Sir Charles Fox and Sons.

Their engineering work included the Medway bridge at Rochester, three bridges over the Thames, a swing bridge across the River Shannon in Ireland, a bridge over the Saône at Lyon and many bridges on the Great Western Railway.

Railways upon which Fox worked included the Cork and Bandon, Thames and Medway, Portadown and Dungannon, East Kent, Lyons and Geneva, Macon and Geneva, Wiesbaden and the Zealand (Denmark) lines. Fox was also engineer to the Queensland, Cape Town and Wynberg Railway and the Toronto narrow gauge lines.

Narrow-gauge railways

Fox became an expert in narrow-gauge railways and in conjunction with George Berkley he constructed the first narrow-gauge line in India, and later constructed narrow-gauge lines in other parts of the world.

Fox and Sons engineered the complex scheme of bridges and high-level lines at Battersea for the London Brighton and South Coast Railway, London, Chatham and Dover Railway and London and South Western Railway and the approach to Victoria Station, London, including widening the bridge over the Thames.

Fox was also a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers from 1838 until his death, a founder member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers from 1856 to 1871 and a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and Royal Geographical Society.

Sir Charles Fox died at Blackheath, London on 14 June 1874, at the age of sixty-four.

Other projects

East Kent Railway

Cork and Bandon Railway

Thames and Medway Railway

Portadown and Dungannon Railway

Eastern sections of the Lyon and Geneva Railway

Mâcon and Geneva Railway

Wiesbaden Railway

Danish Zealand Railways

Bridge over the River Medway at Rochester

Bridge over the River Thames at Barnes, Richmond, and Staines

Station buildings for Paddington, Waterloo and Birmingham New Street

Narrow-gauge railways in Queensland, Australia, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa and Canada

Assisted George Berkley with the first narrow-gauge railway in India.

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Sir Charles Fox's Timeline