Isambard Kingdom Brunel

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Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:03 pm


Isambard Kingdom Brunel by the launching chains of the Great Eastern
by Robert Howlett, 1857.

Wiki:

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS (9 April 1806 – 15 September 1859), was a British civil engineer who built bridges and dockyards including the construction of the first major British railway, the Great Western Railway; a series of steamships, including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship; and numerous important bridges and tunnels. His designs revolutionised public transport and modern engineering.

Though Brunel's projects were not always successful, they often contained innovative solutions to long-standing engineering problems. During his short career, Brunel achieved many engineering "firsts", including assisting in the building of the first tunnel under a navigable river and development of SS Great Britain, the first propeller-driven ocean-going iron ship, which was at the time (1843) also the largest ship ever built.

Brunel set the standard for a very well built railway, using careful surveys to minimise grades and curves. That necessitated expensive construction techniques and new bridges and viaducts, and the two-mile-long Box Tunnel. One controversial feature was the wide gauge, a "broad gauge" of 7 ft 0 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm), instead of what was later to be known as 'standard gauge' of 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm). The wider gauge added to passenger comfort but made construction much more expensive and caused difficulties when eventually it had to interconnect with other railways using the narrower gauge. As a result of the Railway Regulation (Gauge) Act 1846 (and after Brunel's death) the gauge was changed to standard gauge throughout the GWR network.

Brunel astonished Britain by proposing to extend the Great Western Railway westward to North America by building steam-powered iron-hulled ships. He designed and built three ships that revolutionised naval engineering.


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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:50 pm

^

"Brunel achieved many engineering "firsts", including assisting in the building of the first tunnel under a navigable river ..."

For more info on the construction of the Wapping-Rotherhithe Thames Tunnel see "The Golden Age of Steam" thread in Off Topic.

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Diagram of the tunneling shield used to construct the Thames Tunnel.


Scale model of Brunel's Tunneling shield in the Brunel Museum at Rotherhithe.

Wiki:

Brunel worked for several years as assistant engineer on the project to create a tunnel under London's River Thames, with tunnellers driving a horizontal shaft from one side of the river to the other under the most difficult and dangerous conditions. Brunel's father, Marc, was the chief engineer, and the project was funded by the Thames Tunnel Company.

The composition of the riverbed at Rotherhithe was often little more than waterlogged sediment and loose gravel. An ingenious tunnelling shield designed by Marc Brunel helped protect workers from cave-ins, but two incidents of severe flooding halted work for long periods, killing several workers and badly injuring the younger Brunel. The latter incident, in 1828, killed the two most senior miners, and Brunel himself narrowly escaped death. He was seriously injured, and spent six months recuperating. The event stopped work on the tunnel for several years.


Interior of the Thames Tunnel mid-19th century.


Brunel's Thames Tunnel in 2005.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:57 pm


Clifton Suspension Bridge spans Avon Gorge, linking Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset.

Wiki:

Brunel is perhaps best remembered for the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. Spanning over 700 ft (210 m), and nominally 200 ft (61 m) above the River Avon, it had the longest span of any bridge in the world at the time of construction. Brunel submitted four designs to a committee headed by Thomas Telford, but Telford rejected all entries, proposing his own design instead. Vociferous opposition from the public forced the organising committee to hold a new competition, which was won by Brunel. Afterwards, Brunel wrote to his brother-in-law, the politician Benjamin Hawes: "Of all the wonderful feats I have performed, since I have been in this part of the world, I think yesterday I performed the most wonderful. I produced unanimity among 15 men who were all quarrelling about that most ticklish subject— taste". It has recently been suggested that Brunel did not design the bridge.

Work on the Clifton bridge started in 1831, but was suspended due to the Queen Square riots caused by the arrival of Sir Charles Wetherell in Clifton. The riots drove away investors, leaving no money for the project, and construction ceased. Brunel did not live to see the bridge finished, although his colleagues and admirers at the Institution of Civil Engineers felt it would be a fitting memorial, and started to raise new funds and to amend the design. Work recommenced in 1862 and was completed in 1864, five years after Brunel's death. The Clifton Suspension Bridge still stands, and over 4 million vehicles traverse it every year.


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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:10 pm


Royal Albert Bridge spanning the River Tamar at Saltash.


BRIDGE BUILDING. Raising the great trusses of Saltash Bridge, each weighing 1,060 tons, to a height of 110 ft. above the water, was a formidable task. The trusses, floated into position on iron pontoons, were lifted by hydraulic jacks, the masonry land piers being built up as the structure rose slowly to railway level.


Entrance to the Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash.


Contractor's drawing, based on Brunel's specifications, for the Maidenhead Railway Bridge.


Maidenhead Railway Bridge, at that time the largest span for a brick arch bridge.


Maidenhead Railway bridge as Turner saw it in 1844 in "Rain, Steam and Spedd: The Great Western Railway".

Wiki:

Brunel designed many bridges for his railway projects, including the Royal Albert Bridge spanning the River Tamar at Saltash near Plymouth, an unusual laminated timber-framed bridge near Bridgwater, the Windsor Railway Bridge, and the Maidenhead Railway Bridge over the Thames in Berkshire. This last was the flattest, widest brick arch bridge in the world and is still carrying main line trains to the west, even though today's trains are about 10 times as heavy as any Brunel ever imagined.

In 1845 Hungerford Bridge, a suspension footbridge across the Thames near Charing Cross Station in London, was opened. It was replaced by a new railway bridge in 1859, and the suspension chains were used to complete the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Throughout his railway building career, but particularly on the South Devon and Cornwall Railways where economy was needed and there were many valleys to cross, Brunel made extensive use of wood for the construction of substantial viaducts; these have had to be replaced over the years as their primary material, Kyanised Baltic Pine became uneconomical to obtain.

Brunel designed the Royal Albert Bridge in 1855 for the Cornwall Railway, after Parliament rejected his original plan for a train ferry across the Hamoaze—the estuary of the tidal Tamar, Tavy and Lynher. The bridge (of bowstring girder or tied arch construction) consists of two main spans of 455 ft (139 m), 100 ft (30 m) above mean high spring tide, plus 17 much shorter approach spans. Opened by Prince Albert on 2 May 1859, it was completed in the year of Brunel's death.


Last edited by eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:21 pm; edited 3 times in total

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:32 pm

THE GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY


Coat-of-arms of the Great Western Railway, incorporating the shields of the cities of London (left) and Bristol (right).


Exterior of Brunel's Temple Meads station at Bristol (National Trust).


The interior of Brunel's train-shed at Temple Meads, the first Bristol terminus of the GWR, from an engraving by J. C. Bourne.


Paddington station, London today.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:55 pm


Great Western Railway information leaflet for signalling systems.


Brunel's disc and crossbar signal.

Wiki:

Brunel developed a system of "disc and crossbar" signals to control train movements, but the people operating them could only assume that each train reached the next signal without stopping unexpectedly. The world's first commercial telegraph line was installed along the 13 miles (21 km) from Paddington to West Drayton and came into operation on 9 April 1839. This later spread throughout the system and allowed stations to use telegraphic messages to tell the people operating the signals when each train arrived safely. A long list of code words were developed to help make messages both quick to send and clear in meaning.


THE FIRST TELEGRAPH STATION, opened at Slough in 1843, was linked with Paddington Station. So great was the public interest in this invention that a fee of one shilling was charged for admission.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:04 pm


CHESTER RAILWAY STATION in the early days of the G.W.R. This reproduction from an old print is an interesting illustration of the conditions of railway travel in 1860 and of the fashions of that period.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:06 pm


THIRD CLASS TRAVELLING in the year 1854 was a trial of physical endurance. No cushions were provided and, since these coaches ran on four wheels only, the jolting added greatly to the passengers' discomfort.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:07 pm


A FAMOUS GREAT WESTERN ENGINE, the "Vulcan," built in 1837, and entered as Locomotive No. 2 in the books of the Company. The "Vulcan" had a single pair of 8ft. driving wheels and two cylinders 14 in. diameter by 16 in. stroke.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:10 pm


THE BROAD GAUGE "CENTAUR," built in 1841, was in service on the Great Western Railway until November, 1867. This engine had two 15 in. by 18 in. cylinders (later enlarged to 16 in. by 20 in.) driving a single pair of 7 ft. wheels.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:12 pm


TRANSFER STATIONS were formerly very numerous on the Great Western Railway owing to the difference in gauges. Goods carried on sections of the line provided with standard (4 ft. 8-1/2 in.) track, were transferred to the wagons of the broad (7 ft. 0-1/4 in.) gauge where the two systems met. This caused considerable delay and expense until the abolition of the broad gauge in May, 1892.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:13 pm


THE LAST BROAD GAUGE TRAIN about to leave Paddington at 10.15 a.m. on May 20, 1892. On Saturday, May 21, and Sunday, May 22, no fewer than 170 miles of track on the Great Western Railway were altered to the standard 4 ft. 8-1/2 in. gauge.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:17 pm


THE VAST NETWORK of lines operated by the Great Western Railway links London with the Welsh coal-mines, the rich industrial cities of the Midlands, and many famous holiday resorts.


Map of the system c 1930.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:25 pm


The Sonning cutting in 1846.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:34 pm

Wiki:

Box Tunnel is a railway tunnel in Western England, between Bath and Chippenham, dug through Box Hill, and is one of the most significant structures on the Great Western Main Line. It was originally built for the Great Western Railway under the direction of the GWR's engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The tunnel is just under two miles (1.83 miles/3,212 yards/2,937 m) in length, straight, and descends a 1 in 100 gradient from the east. Construction started in 1836, and the tunnel opened in 1841. The lives of about 100 navvies (railway construction workers) were lost during construction. At the time of opening it was the longest railway tunnel in the world, though the Standedge Tunnel and several other canal tunnels were longer. The dramatic western portal, near Box, is designed in a grand classical style, while the eastern portal, at Corsham, has a more modest brick face with rusticated stone. When the two ends of the tunnel were joined underground there was found to be less than 2 inches (51 mm) error in their alignment.


West portal of the Box Hill Tunnel


East portal of the Box Hill Tunnel with the old quarry entrance visible on the right.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:42 pm


Launch of SS Great Britain in July 1843.


SS Great Britain in dry dock at Bristol 2005.

Wiki:

SS Great Britain was an advanced passenger steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company's transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. While other ships had previously been built of iron or equipped with a screw propeller, Great Britain was the first to combine these features in a large ocean-going ship. She was the first screw steamer to cross the Atlantic, which she did in 1845, in the then-record time of 14 days (one day faster than the previous record holder, the SS Great Western).

When launched in 1843, Great Britain was by far the largest vessel afloat. However, her protracted construction and high cost had left her owners in a difficult financial position, and they were forced out of business in 1846 after the ship was stranded by a navigational error.

Sold for salvage and repaired, Great Britain carried thousands of immigrants to Australia until converted to sail in 1881. Three years later, the vessel was retired to the Falkland Islands where she was used as a warehouse, quarantine ship and coal hulk until scuttled in 1937.

In 1970, Great Britain was returned to the Bristol dry dock where she was first built. Now listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection, the vessel is an award-winning visitor attraction and museum ship in Bristol Harbour, with between 150,000–170,000 visitors annually.


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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:12 am

BRUNEL's THEORY ABOUT STEAMSHIP CONSTRUCTION

Wiki:

It was widely disputed whether it would be commercially viable for a ship powered purely by steam to make such long [Transatlantic] journeys. Technological developments in the early 1830s—including the invention of the surface condenser, which allowed boilers to run on salt water without stopping to be cleaned—made longer journeys more possible, but it was generally thought that a ship would not be able to carry enough fuel for the trip and have room for a commercial cargo. Brunel formulated the theory that the amount a ship could carry increased as the cube of its dimensions, whereas the amount of resistance a ship experienced from the water as it travelled only increased by a square of its dimensions. This would mean that moving a larger ship would take proportionately less fuel than a smaller ship.

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Being an all-round clever clogs, his theory was subsequently vindicated.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:34 am

SS GREAT EASTERN


Sectional plan of Great Eastern.


On the deck of Great Eastern, 1857.

Wiki:

In the spring of 1854 work could at last begin. The first problem to arise was where the ship was to be built. Scott Russell’s contract stipulated that it was to be built in a dock, but Russell quoted a price of £8-10,000 to build the necessary dock and so this part of the scheme was abandoned, partly due to the cost and also to the difficulty of finding a suitable site for the dock. The idea of a normal stern first launch was also rejected because of the great length of the vessel, also because to provide the right launch angle the bow of the ship would have to be raised 40 feet (12 m) in the air. Eventually it was decided to build the ship sideways to the river and use a mechanical slip designed by Brunel for the launch. Later the mechanical design was dropped on the grounds of cost, although the sideways plan remained.

Having decided on a sideways launch, a suitable site had to be found, as Scott Russell's Millwall, London, yard was too small. The adjacent yard belonging to David Napier was empty, available and suitable, so it was leased and a railway line constructed between the two yards for moving materials. The site of the launch is still visible on the Isle of Dogs. Part of the slipway has been preserved on the waterfront, while at low tide, more of the slipway can be seen on the Thames foreshore.


Great Eastern shortly before launch in 1858.


Brunel at the launch of Great Eastern with John Scott Russell and Lord Derby.


SS Great Eastern's launch ramp at Millwall, London today.


SS Great Eastern at Heart's Content, July 1866.

Wiki:

Brunel had hoped to conduct the launch with a minimum of publicity but many thousands of spectators had heard of it and occupied vantage points all round the yard. He was also dismayed to discover that the Eastern Company's directors had sold 3,000 tickets for spectators to enter the shipyard.

As he was preparing for the launch some of the directors joined him on the rostrum with a list of names for the ship. On being asked which he preferred, Brunel replied "Call her Tom Thumb if you like". At 12:30 pm Henrietta (daughter of a major fundraiser for the ship, Henry Thomas Hope) christened the ship Leviathan much to everyone's surprise since she was commonly known as Great Eastern; her name subsequently changed back to Great Eastern in July 1858.

The launch, however, failed, as the steam winches and manual capstans used to haul the ship towards the water were not up to the job. Brunel made another attempt on the 19th and again on the 28th, this time using hydraulic rams to move the ship, but these too proved inadequate. The ship was finally launched at 1:42pm on 31 January 1858, using more powerful hydraulic rams supplied by the then-new Tangye company of Birmingham, the association with such a famous project giving a useful fillip to the fledgling company.

She was 211 m (692 ft) long, 25 m (83 ft) wide, with a draft of 6.1 m (20 ft) unloaded and 9.1 m (30 ft) fully laden, and displaced 32,000 tons fully loaded. In comparison, SS Persia, launched in 1856, was 119 m (390 ft) long with a 14 m (45 ft) beam.


SS Great Eastern berthed in New York, 1860.


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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Sat Jul 02, 2011 6:25 am

^

But there was a price to be paid for all this Victorian-era enterprise- and in an age where Health & Safety regulations didn't exist it was paid in men's lives:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fh0F41AvO_Q
Navigator- The Pogues.

Vid with great contemporary pix.


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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:53 am

Railway engineering: the nuts and bolts of hidden beauty

From Network Rail to the National Gallery, a world of dazzling creativity eludes our attention

Sarah Bakewell

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 1 March 2012 22.00 GMT


The architectural drawing of Paddington station 'looks like a dome-shaped doodle, all exuberant sprays of ivy-like shoots'. Photograph: Network Rail

Once I saw merely bridges, tunnels and stations, and mostly I didn't even notice these, so busy was I rushing to get over or through them. Now, I see a delicate ecosystem of rivets, cleats, plates, gussets, joggles, spans, arches, ribs of attenuated iron and steel.

Scholars can already study railway archives in repositories all over the country, but Network Rail has just put part of its beautiful archive of Victorian and Edwardian infrastructure diagrams on the web. This amounts to an invitation to anyone, anywhere, to contemplate such images out of sheer curiosity and love of beauty. They give us plans of the high-level bridge at Newcastle upon Tyne, with its columns trailing down the screen like tall sepia waterfalls, and Bristol's neo-gothic Temple Meads station, in ethereal ink outline. The Forth bridge of 1890 appears side on, elongated and webby as if someone had pulled a string cat's cradle as far as it would go. Its vertical columns climb visibly week by week; target dates are marked at each level, like the tracking of a child's growth against a wall.

Maidenhead bridge, designed in brick by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1839, has two middle arches spanning the river in great cheetah leaps. They were lower and broader than anything previously constructed in brick, and the Great Western Railway's directors feared the bridge would collapse: they insisted on the bridge's temporary timber supports remaining even after it opened. Annoyed, Brunel secretly lowered the supports a bit so they did not actually support anything.

Engineering is a world of tall things, long things, record-breakingly huge things and well-made things – but also things that elude our attention. I often travel through Paddington station, but usually early in the morning with my head low from dejection at finding no decent coffee, so I have never looked up with sufficient awe at the ironwork on the roof. In the plans, a 1914 iron-and-glass end-screen looks like a dome-shaped doodle, all exuberant sprays of ivy-like shoots. Zoom in, and admire the hundreds of tiny, precise thoughts that went into it, with notes of widths, lengths, fastenings, joints. Beauty takes hard-won human knowledge, and it takes clips and bolts.

It had already struck me recently how easy it is not to see. Last week I was led by Secret London, Rachel Howard and Bill Nash's 2011 book, to find the Boris Anrep mosaics on the floor of the National Gallery. As Howard and Nash point out, almost everyone hurries obliviously over these on their way to other art, and I had done the same. The mosaics feature Greta Garbo, Winston Churchill, Virginia Woolf and others as muses and "modern virtues"; they are fun. They may be no oil painting – but how can anything so big be so invisible?

Is it a question of slowing one's pace, and gawping carefully at every little thing? Should we become flaneurs – the Parisian amblers famed for strolling all day through the arcades of 19th-century Paris – open to all sights and chance encounters?

But aimless drifting is not always enough. I have happily flaneured about in strange cities for hours, only to find out later that I missed seeing all the most interesting things. What I have seen I have probably misunderstood, or seen more dully for having no idea of how it came to be. I therefore sing the praises of those disregarded literary figures, the authors of guidebooks, archival catalogues and websites. Their reproductions and explications go with us on our travels, pointing out where things came from and why. They help us to experience the world as a profoundly humanised and engineered place – a place imbued with creativity and skill, and astonishingly rich in rivets.

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