Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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PIERCY , BENJAMIN ( 1827 - 1888 ), civil engineer ;

b. near Trefeglwys, Mont. , 16 March 1827 , the third son of Robert Piercy , later of Chirk , a commissioner , valuer , and surveyor for the inclosure of commons and for tithe commutation awards , with an extensive practice in the counties of Montgomery , Denbigh , and Flint . Benjamin was trained in his father's office, and became, in 1847 , chief assistant to Charles Mickleburgh , surveyor and land-agent , of Montgomery . In 1851 , Henry Robertson (q.v.) , sought his assistance to prepare plans for the Shrewsbury and Chester Railway Bill , and later for a railway from Oswestry to Newtown . He commenced independent practice as engineer for the Red Valley Railway Bill for constructing a line from Shrewsbury to Minsterley . The Bill was rejected, but he succeeded in piloting, against strong opposition, a Bill for a railway from Shrewsbury to Welshpool , with a branch to Minsterley . This feat established his reputation as a witness in parliamentary committees , and thereafter he was engaged upon nearly every project for introducing railways into Wales . At this period he lived at Welshpool . The Welsh railways in the construction of which he was actively engaged included the Oswestry , Ellesmere , and Whitchurch , the Oswestry and Newtown , the Llanidloes and Newtown , the Newtown and Machynlleth , the Welsh coast railways , the Aberdovey , Barmouth , and Pwllheli , the Vale of Clwyd , the Caernarvonshire , the Denbigh , Ruthin , and Corwen , the Mid-Wales , the Hereford , Hay , and Brecon , and the Wrexham , Mold , and Connah's Quay . In these constructions he performed feats of engineering, notably bridges over the Severn , the Mawddach , and Traeth Bychan estuaries , the fine stations at Oswestry and Welshpool , and the Talerddig cutting. He prepared plans for a viaduct from Ynys-las to Aberdovey , but it was abandoned in favour of the deviation to Dovey Junction . In 1862 he began a long term of work in connection with the Royal Sardinian Railway Company , involving the resurveying and planning of the standard and narrow gauge lines on the island, and the construction of a harbour on the Golfo di Aranci . He acquired large estates in Sardinia , where his son still resides, and did much to improve agriculture on the island by drainage and afforestation projects and by the breeding of cattle, horses, and sheep . He became an intimate friend of Garibaldi , whose son, Ricciotti , became his pupil. His services to Sardinia were recognized by his creation as a Commendatore of the Crown of Italy . In Italy he was employed on a scheme for the canalization of the Tiber and on the plans of the Acqua Marcia , which supplied Rome with water. In France , he was engineer-in-chief of the Napoléon-Vendée Railway from Tours to Sables d'Olonne . He was also engineer to the Assam Railway in India , and projected its extension into Burma . In 1881 he purchased the Marchwiel Hall estate , and for the last years of his life devoted his attentions mainly to the resuscitation of railways in North Wales , consolidating their finances, and planning extensions to develop mineral resources. He was placed on the commission of the peace for Denbighshire , and was parliamentary candidate for Peterborough in 1883 . He was a fine chess player , and he laid out one of the best cricket grounds in the country at Marchwiel . He d. in London 24 March 1888 , and was buried in the Kensal Green cemetery . By his wife Sarah , daughter of Thomas Davies of Montgomery , whom he m. in 1855 , he had three sons and six daughters.


  • Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers , xcvi, 1889, 333-9;
  • R. Williams , Montgomeryshire Worthies (1894) (2nd ed.), 237-41;
  • NLW MSS 9745-857.


Evan David Jones, F.S.A., (1903-87), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959