|Berkley's monument in Camberwell Old Cemetery was paid for by public subscription|
James John Berkley, born in Holloway in 1819 and dead in Sydenham at the age of 42 spent the best part of a decade in India building the first 20 miles of India’s celebrated railway network from Bombay to Tanna. He was most celebrated for the impressive feat of taking the railway into the Western Ghats but was dead before the first section of line was officially opened in 1863. Berkley trained and worked with eminent engineers such as George Bidder and George Stephenson both of whom recommended him for the job of Chief Resident engineer with the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. Ill health drove him back to England and an early death.
|Berkley's railway over the Bhore Ghat incline|
He left behind a young widow and five children; his youngest daughter was born posthumously. At the Annual meeting of the shareholders of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway held at the London Tavern in October 1862 Sir William Tite MP addressed his colleagues on the loss of their Chief Engineer he “was anxious to make a recommendation, that an acknowledgment should be made of their appreciation of Mr. Berkley’s services, that gentleman's death being, as he believed, mainly attributable to the influence of the Indian climate while engaged in carrying out the works on their line The directors proposed to erect a stone tablet to Mr. Berkley’s memory on the Bhore Ghat incline, hut he thought t it would be only just that they should make some provision for Mr. Berkley’s five young children. Mr. Berkley had insured his life, but he had not lived long enough to make adequate provision for those dependent upon him, and he proposed that the meeting should authorise the board to pay over to Mr. Berkley’s executors 1000/. for the benefit of his family.”
|Berkley's portrait on his funeral monument|