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SNAPE, Alfred Ernest

Born: 1881 04 25
Died: 1946 10 12


He succeeded Prof PAYNE as professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town. He was born in Manchester, England and educated at Manchester Grammar School from where he won the City of Manchester scholarship to the Victoria College, receiving the Batchelor of Science degree in 1900 and the Master of Science degree in 1905. Among his first employers was the London County Council where he worked under Fitzmaurice and in 1910 he was appointed to the Cape Town Corporation Chair of Civil Engineering at the South African College, later the University of Cape Town, which he occupied until his death.

According to Leslie (DSAB III:744), Snape's teaching and technical ability laid the foundation for, and established the form of future professional engineering training in South Africa. Apart from his contributions to engineering in South Africa, Snape gave vital service to architecture, assisting in the establishment of a course leading to the B Arch Degree and the Diploma of Architecture at the University of Cape Town. He was a pioneer of modern town planning in South Africa and gave his first lecture on the subject in 1910 and became the president of the Town Planning Association. He was also a member of the South African Society of Civil Engineers, serving on its council from 1911 until his death. His interest in Civil Engineering led him to look at the histories of civil engineers in South Africa and his research into personalities such as CC MICHELL are invaluable.

He was co-editor of the periodical Architect, Builder and Engineer with WJ DELBRIDGE who had founded the periodical in 1917.

Snape encouraged the founding of engineering faculties at the universities of the Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch. In 1923 he took part in the Conference on Architectural Education held in Durban, representing the University of Cape Town. He was also a founder of the Citizens' Housing League in Cape Town in the 1930s.

Widely read and well-informed he took his engineering students on a European tour in 1932, visiting Dessau to look at the housing development there, a place not usually included in tours made by South African architectural students.

He married in Cape Town and died there. The University of Cape Town named the new engineering block after him: The Snape Building and in 1953 the Alfred Snape Lecture was established at the University by the South African Institution of Civil Engineers. His writings have been published as the Snape Papers (1968).

(A&B 1917-1918)

Publ: The profession of landsurveying in South Africa, 2 pts: AB&E Sep 1932:8-10, AB&E Oct 1932:7; Civil engineering: its early development in Britain and South Africa, 3 pts A&B May 1918:342-345, A&B Jun 1918:390-94, A&B Jul 1918:429-434

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books citing SNAPE

Fisher, Roger & Clarke, Nicholas. 2014. Architectural Guide : South Africa. Berlin: DOM Publishers. pp 26

Fredman, R. 1964. Structural concrete in South Africa: Some Observations on the Development of Reinforced and Prestressed Concrete from the Time of Van Riebeeck to the Present Day. Johannesburg: South African Reinforced Concrete Engineers Association. pp 33-35

Herbert, Gilbert. 1975. Martienssen & the international style: The modern movement in South African architecture. Cape Town - Rotterdam: AA Balkema. pp 13,14,16,51

HSRC. 1977. Dictionary of South African Biography Volume III. Pretoria: Tafelberg for The Human Sciences Research Council. pp 744-745

S2A3 (Plug, C - Project Leader and main compiler). 2002-. S2A3 biographical database of southern African science. Webspace: WWW. pp Accessed 12 January 2016

Walker, Michael & Stuart-Findlay, Derek. 2011. St James, a place of dreams: Bicentenary Edition 1810-2010. St James: Kalk Bay Historical Association. pp 132-133