Isambard Kingdom Brunel

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Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:03 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 8:50 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.

*********************************************************************************

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 8:57 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 9:10 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 10:21 pm; edited 3 times in total

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:32 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 9:55 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 10:04 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 10:06 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 10:07 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 10:10 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 10:12 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 10:13 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 10:17 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 10:25 pm


The Sonning cutting in 1846.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:34 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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