Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Charles Ranken Vickerman (1855-1940)

C. R. Vickerman, Engineer-in-charge of the Public Works Department for the Auckland district at the height of his career in 1902 (photo from the Cyclopedia), was born on the Marlborough Plains, son of Dr. Francis Longbourne Vickerman, a surgeon, government health officer, J.P. and public figure in the Nelson area. F. L. Vickerman died quite suddenly on 9 April 1873, after sitting on the side of his bed, putting on his slippers, when he fell back across the bed, dead from apoplexy, according to the ensuing inquest. Three months later Charles Vickerman passed his civil service exam, and began his career in the service of the Crown as an engineer.

He worked on the Picton-Blenheim railway line from 1874, then he was assigned to the Auckland District, to be connected with the construction and survey of the Rangiriri-Te Awamutu and Auckland-Helensville lines. In 1878, he was based at Whangarei, and worked on the Kamo-Whangarei line, also making further surveys to Kawakawa. Vickerman returned to Auckland in 1883, occupied with the area's defence works, as well as railway lines northwards. He was the superintendent for the building of the Queen Street railway Station (see Cyclopedia Photos post 2), the railway workshops at Newmarket, and other public buildings until c.1913 when he shifted to Gisborne.

On 1 May 1940, the NZ Herald reported his death:

"Mr. Vickerman was in the habit of taking long walks. He set out for one on Friday and apparently at dusk lost his way. Search parties were sent out, but no trace was found of him until Sunday afternoon, when his body was discovered at Ohiro Bay [Wellington]. He had died of exhaustion and exposure."

Charles Ranken Vickerman was the supervising engineer for the design and construction of Avondale's first purpose-built police station on Great North Road, in 1906.

Image from "Avondale Heritage Walks" brochure.


  1. Paula Cunniffe, NelsonApril 8, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    Frank Longbourne Vickerman is my great, great grandfather. I never knew the details of his death, or anything about the life of Charles - so for this information - I thank you.

  2. Paula Cunniffe, NelsonApril 8, 2010 at 4:17 PM

    ... actually ... add another 'great' to that!

  3. Hi Paula, thanks for your comment. I'm glad the post has been a help! Always very cool hearing from a descendant of one of my post subjects -- cheers!

  4. Tom Moody, WellingtonMay 29, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    Frank Longbourne Vickerman is also my great, great, great grandfather, meaning Paula, we are distant cousins! I have a family tree comprising of 225 people, and this information is all new to me. There is no record of a Charles Vickerman in the data I have. Thank you very much for this information!!

  5. Hi Tom ... have just seen this. You may contact me at if you like. Cheers,Paula.