Born at Clapham, London, on 26 March 1847 and died at Malvern, Vic., on 12 March 1924.
He was a graduate of Queen's University, Belfast, and King's College, London. For a time he was on the staff of a firm involved in bringing the Great Western Railway into London, then with contractors for the East Hungarian Railways and as Chief Technical Assistant to the Head Manager of the Danube Steam Navigation Co. He also worked under Sir Benjamin Baker, who was responsible for the Forth Bridge, and later he visited the Philippines in connection with the erection of sugar works. He arrived in New South Wales in 1880 and shortly afterwards was appointed to the New South Wales Railways, rising to the position of Engineer-in-Chief. It was during his time as Chief Assistant to the previous Engineer-in-Chief that the Hawkesbury Bridge was built (1889). In 1906 he accepted an appointment with the Commonwealth Oil Corporation which involved the construction and management of a private railway line; it was during this time that he introduced the 'Shay' locomotive to Australia.In 1908-09 he assisted the Commonwealth Government in the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway survey and in 1911 took charge of the newly formed office for the preparation of plans and estimates for the proposed Transcontinental Railway; in 1912 he accepted the position of Engineer-in-Chief, which office he held until his resignation in 1914. Deane was not only one of Australia's most distinguished railway engineers but also a noted botanist, especially in the fields of eucalypts and palaeobotany . Undoubtedly his early interest in botany was initiated by his father, who was first President of the British Pharmaceutical Conference and a Fellow of the Linnean Society, and his father's friends such as A. R. Wallace and Dr Harvey.
Deane was a member of and held positions in the Institute of Engineers and the Institution of Surveyors, but his interests in science were wide. He was twice President of the Royal Society of New South Wales (1897 and 1907) and of the Linnean Society of the same State (1895-1896). One of his presidential addresses was on forestry and he made a special study of the native timbers, especially eucalypts. In connection with palaeobotany, F. Chapman, then Palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum, Melbourne, wrote at the time of his death -
He also took a keen interest in the Orchidaceae and played a major role in the completion of the last volume of R. D. Fitzgerald's work on that family. Deane wrote a number of botanical papers, most of which were published in the J. Linn. Soc. of N.S. W., whilst those connected with palaeobotany are in the reports and records of the geological surveys of New South Wales and Victoria. There are many valuable observations made by Deane on eucalypts quoted in J. H. Maiden's (q.v.) Critical Revision of the Genus Eucalyptus.
'No one in Australia, it is safe to say, was so well-equipped for the work on fossil botany which he had undertaken many years ago; for he had made a particular study of the leaf form and venation of our living Australian flora. At the time of his decease, Mr Deane was engaged on a valuable line of research in regard to the correlation of the fruit of the Deep Leads with those of living plants ...'
Hall, N. (1978) Botanists of the eucalypts. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Melbourne