Richard E. Wright, civil engineer, was an associate member of the (British) Institution of Civil Engineers (AMICE) and a member of the Royal Sanitary Institute (MRSI). In October 1874 he entered the civil service of the Cape Colony as assistant engineer in the Railway Department, becoming acting district engineer (construction) at Sand Flats and Alicedale in January 1875. In October 1876 he was transferred to the Public Works Department as district inspector at Port Elizabeth. In December 1883 he became district inspector at Kimberley, in charge of Griqualand West and adjoining districts. His position changed to that of consulting engineer in charge of public works in British Bechuanaland (now part of the Northern Cape), in addition to Griqualand West, in January 1886. At this time he was a member of the Kimberley hospital board. In October 1893 he was transferred back to Port Elizabeth, where he was inspector of roads. After eleven years in this position he was appointed resident engineer of the Amabele-Butterworth railway in April 1904 and was stationed at Komgha. Three years later, in February 1907, he became resident engineer of the Butterworth-Idutywa railway survey and was stationed at Butterworth. However, he was no longer listed as a civil servant in subsequent years.
Wright became a member of the Cape Society of Civil Engineers early in 1906. On 11 April that year he presented a paper, "Notes on the construction of the Komgha-Ndabakazi section of the Amabele-Butterworth railway", that was published in the society's Minutes of Proceedings.