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BARNES, John Frederick Evelyn

Born: 1851 01 21
Died: 1925 06 24



Was born in Innistiogue, Kilkenny, Ireland, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He trained as a civil engineer in Northern Ireland and worked as assistant surveyor in County Antrim in 1872 and was employed as engineer and surveyor on the Abercorn Estates, Northern Ireland from 1873 until 1879.

Marrying in 1879, he came to South Africa in the same year. He was appointed Government Surveyor in January 1880, a post he held for two years. Remaining in government service Barnes was appointed Borough Engineer of Durban in 1882 but resigned from this post in 1887, applying for and appointed to the post of Assistant Colonial Engineer and Assistant Surveyor General. On several occasions between 1889 and 1890 he was Acting Colonial Engineer (HIME, the Colonial Engineer, being unavailable) and had a seat on the Natal Executive and Legislative Committees. When in 1894 the post of Colonial Engineer was abolished and the post of Chief Engineer, PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT was created Barnes became Chief Engineer, a position he held until his retirement in 1910.

In his last years of service he also held the position as Secretary of Public Works for Natal. His services and those of the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in connection with the Anglo-Boer War were publicly and favourably referred to by General Buller and in August 1901 Barnes received the CMG medal.

In 1904 he visited the St Louis World Fair in America as Commissioner for Natal; an interesting report of this visit was published in 1905. From 1916 to 1917 Barnes held office as a commissioner on the Board of the Income Tax Appeal Court and practised as a consulting civil engineer in Pietermaritzburg around 1920. He also served as Secretary to the Natal South African Party from 1917 until 1921.

During his early tenure as Borough Engineer, Durban, he was responsible for municipal works and improvements in Durban and also for numerous works, bridges and buildings throughout the Colony. As Chief Engineer and as Secretary of Public Works Barnes was signatory to plans submitted to municipal authority for approval. His annual reports as Chief Engineer are informative.

(DSAB 3:49; NAD MSCE 10401/1925; N Mercury 26 June 1925 obit; N Witness 25 June 1926 obit; NCSL 1895, 1902, 1908; NWW 1906; PWD ar 1910; SAWW 1911, 1916)

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.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

Bridge over the Buffalo River: 1898. Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal - Project Engineer
Legislative Assembly: 1889. Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect

Books citing BARNES

Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pp 180

HSRC. 1977. Dictionary of South African Biography Volume III. Pretoria: Tafelberg for The Human Sciences Research Council. pp 49

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pp 141

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