Sir John Fowler KCMG LLD

English civil engineer Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet KCMG LLD was born 15 July 1817. in Wadsley, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, to land surveyor John Fowler and his wife Elizabeth (née Swann). He was educated privately at Whitley Hall near Ecclesfield. He trained under John Towlerton Leather, engineer of the Sheffield waterworks, and with Leather’s uncle, George Leather, on the Aire and Calder Navigation an railway surveys. From 1837 he worked for John Urpeth Rastrick on railway projects including the London and Brighton Railway and the unbuilt West Cumberland and Furness Railway. He then worked again for George Leather as resident engineer on the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway and was appointed engineer to the railway when it opened in 1841. Fowler initially established a practice as a consulting engineer in the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire area, but, a heavy workload led him to move to London in 1844. He became a member of theInstitution of Mechanical Engineers in 1847, the year the Institution was founded, and a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1849

He specialised in the construction of railways and railway infrastructure . In 1853, he became chief engineer of the Metropolitan Railway in London, the world’s first underground railway, which opened between Paddington and Farringdon in 1863. Fowler was also engineer for the associated Metropolitan District Railway and the Hammersmith and City Railway. They were built by the “cut-and-cover” method under city streets. To avoid problems with smoke and steam overwhelming staff and passengers on the covered sections of the Metropolitan Railway, Fowler proposed a fireless locomotive. The locomotive was built by Robert Stephenson and Company and was a broad gauge 2-4-0 tender engine. The boiler had a normal firebox connected to a large combustion chamber containing fire bricks which were to act as a heat reservoir. The combustion chamber was linked to the smokebox through a set of very short firetubes. Exhaust steam was re-condensed instead of escaping and feed back to the boiler. The locomotive was intended to operate conventionally in the open, but in tunnels dampers would be closed and steam would be generated using the stored heat from the fire bricks.

The first trial on the Great Western Railway in October 1861 was a failure. The condensing system leaked, causing the boiler to run dry and pressure to drop, risking a boiler explosion. A second trial on the Metropolitan Railway in 1862 was also a failure, and the fireless engine was abandoned, becoming known as “Fowler’s Ghost”. The locomotive was sold to Isaac Watt Boulton in 1865; he intended to convert it into a standard engine but it was eventually scrapped. On opening, the Metropolitan Railway’s trains were provided by the Great Western Railway, but these were withdrawn in August 1863. After a period hiring trains from the Great Northern Railway, the Metropolitan Railway introduced its own Fowler designed, 4-4-0 tank engines in 1864. The design, known as the A class and, with minor updates, the B class, was so successful that the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railways eventually had 120 of the engines in use and they remained in operation until electrification of the lines in the 1900s. Today these railways form the majority of the London Underground’s Circle line

Fowler established a busy practice, working on many railway schemes across the country. He became chief engineer for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway and was engineer of the East Lincolnshire Railway, the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway and the Severn Valley Railway. Other railways that Fowler consulted for were the London Tilbury and Southend Railway, the Great Northern Railway, the Highland Railway and the Cheshire Lines Railway. Following the death of Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1859, Fowler was retained by the Great Western Railway. His various appointments involved him in the design of Victoria station in London, Sheffield Victoria station, St Enoch station in Glasgow, Liverpool Central station and Manchester Central station.The latter station’s 210-foot (64 m) wide train shed roof was the second widest unsupported iron arch in Britain after the roof of St Pancras railway station. Fowler’s consulting work extended beyond Britain including railway and engineering projects in Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Portugal and the United States. He travelled to Egypt for the first time in 1869 and worked on a number of, mostly unrealised, schemes for the Khedive, including a railway to Khartoum in Sudan which was planned in 1875 but not completed until after his death.

Victoria Bridge

In 1870 he provided advice to an Indian Government inquiry on railway gauges where he recommended a narrow gauge of 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 m) for light railways.He visited Australia in 1886, where he made some remarks on the break of gauge difficulty. Later in his career, he was also a consultant with his partner Benjamin Baker and with James Henry Greathead on two of London’s first tube railways, the City and South London Railway and the Central London Railway. As part of his railway projects, Fowler also designed numerous bridges. In the 1860s, he designed Grosvenor Bridge, the first railway bridge over the River Thames,and the 13-arch Dollis Brook Viaduct for the Edgware, Highgate and London Railway. He is credited with the design of the Victoria Bridge at Upper Arley, Worcestershire, constructed between 1859 and 1861,and the near identical Albert Edward Bridge at Coalbrookdale, Shropshire built from 1863 to 1864. Both remain in use today carrying railway lines across the River Severn. In the 1880s, he was chief engineer for the Forth Railway Bridge, which opened in 1890 and Following the collapse of Sir Thomas Bouch’s Tay Bridge in 1879, Fowler, William Henry Barlow and Thomas Elliot Harrison were appointed in 1881 to a commission to review Bouch’s design for the Forth Railway Bridge. The commission recommended a steel cantilever bridge designed by Fowler and Benjamin Baker, which was constructed between 1883 and 1890

Fowler stood unsuccessfully for parliament as a Conservative candidate in 1880 and 1885. His standing within the engineering profession was very high, to the extent that he was elected president of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1865, its youngest president. Through his position in the Institution and through his own practice, he led the development of training for engineers. In 1857, he purchased a 57,000 acres (23,000 ha) estate at Braemore in Ross-shire, Scotland, where he spent frequent holidays and where he was a Justice of the Peace and a Deputy Lieutenant of the County.He listed his recreations in Who’s Who as yachting and deerstalking and was a member of the Carlton Club, St Stephen’s Club, the Conservative Club and the Royal Yacht Squadron. He was also President of the Egyptian Exploration Fund.In 1885 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George as thanks from the government for allowing the use of maps of the Upper Nile valley he had had made when working on the Khedive’s projects.

They were the most accurate survey of the area and were used in the British Relief of Khartoum. Following the successful completion of the Forth Railway Bridge in 1890, Fowler was created a baronet, taking the name of his Scottish estate as his territorial designation. Along with Benjamin Baker, he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Edinburgh in 1890 for his engineering of the bridge. In 1892, the Poncelet Prize was doubled and awarded jointly to Baker and Fowler. Fowler died in Bournemouth, Dorset, at the age of 81 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son, Sir John Arthur Fowler, 2nd Baronet sadly he died 25 March 1899 and The baronetcy became extinct in 1933 on the death of Reverend Sir Montague Fowler, 4th Baronet, the first baronet’s third son.

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George Stephenson

Renowned as being the “Father of Railways”, The English civil engineer and mechanical engineer George Stephenson was born on 9 June 1781 in Wylam, Northumberland, near Newcastle upon Tyne. At 17, Stephenson became an engineman at Water Row Pit, Newburn. George studied at night school learning reading, writing and arithmetic. In 1801 he began work at Black Callerton colliery as a brakesman’, controlling the winding gear of the pit. In 1811 Stephenson fixed the pumping engine at High Pit, Killingworth. He did so with such success that he was soon promoted to enginewright for the neighbouring collieries at Killingworth, responsible for maintaining and repairing all of thec olliery engines. He soon became an expert in steam-driven machinery.

In 1815, Stephenson began to experiment with a safety lamp that would burn without causing an explosion in the mine. At the same time, Cornishman Sir Humphry Davy, the eminent scientist was also looking at the problem. Despite his lack of any scientific knowledge, Stephenson, by trial and error, devised a lamp in which the air entered via tiny holes. Stephenson demonstrated the lamp himself to two witnesses by taking it down Killingworth colliery and holding it directly in front of a fissure from which fire damp was issuing. This was a month before Davy presented his design to the Royal Society. The two designs differed in that, the Davy’s lamp was surrounded by a screen of gauze, whereas Stephenson’s lamp was contained in a glass cylinder. For his invention Davy was awarded £2,000, whilst Stephenson was accused of stealing the idea from Davy. A local committee of enquiry exonerated Stephenson, proved that he had been working separately and awarded him £1,000 but Davy and his supporters refused to accept this. They could not see how an uneducated man such as Stephenson could come up with the solution that he had. In 1833 a House of Commons committee found that Stephenson had equal claim to having invented the safety lamp. Davy went to his grave believing that Stephenson had stolen his idea. The Stephenson lamp was used exclusively in the North East, whereas the Davy lamp was used everywhere else. The experience with Davy gave Stephenson a life-long distrust of London-based, theoretical, scientific experts. There is a theory that it was Stephenson who indirectly gave the name of Geordies to the people of Tyneside. By this theory, the name of the Geordie lamp attached to the pit men themselves. By 1866 any native of Tyneside could be called a Geordie.

Cornishman Richard Trevithick is credited with the first realistic design of the steam locomotive in 1802. Later, he visited Tyneside and built an engine there for a mine-owner. Several local men were inspired by this, and designed engines of their own. Stephenson designed his first locomotive in 1814, a travelling engine designed for hauling coal on the Killingworth wagonway, and named Blücher after the Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. This locomotive could haul 30 tons of coal up a hill at 4 mph (6.4 km/h), and was the first successful flanged-wheel adhesion locomotive: its traction depended only on the contact between its flanged wheels and the rail. The new engines were too heavy to be run on wooden rails, and iron rails were in their infancy, with cast iron exhibiting excessive brittleness. Together with William Losh, Stephenson improved the design of cast ironrails to reduce breakage; these were briefly made by Losh, Wilson and Bell at their Walker ironworks. According toRolt, he also managed to solve the problem caused by the weight of the engine upon these primitive rails.He experimented with a ‘steam spring’ (to ‘cushion’ the weight using steam pressure), but soon followed the new practice of ‘distributing’ weight by utilising a number of wheels. For the Stockton and Darlington Railway, however, Stephenson would use only wrought iron rails.

Stephenson was hired to build an 8-mile (13-km) railway from Hetton colliery to Sunderland in 1820. The finished result used a combination of gravity on downward inclines and locomotives for level and upward stretches. It was the first railway using no animal power. In 1821, a parliamentary bill was passed to allow the building of the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR). This 25-mile (40 km) railway was intended to connect various collieries situated near Bishop Auckland to the River Tees at Stockton, passing through Darlington on the way. The original plan was to use horses to draw coal carts on metal rails, but after company director Edward Pease met Stephenson he agreed to change the plans. Stephenson surveyed the line in 1821, assisted by his eighteen-year-old son Robert. That same year construction of the line began. A company was set up to manufacture locomotives for the railway, It was named Robert Stephenson and Company, and George’s son Robert was the managing director. In September 1825 the works at Forth Street, Newcastle completed the first locomotive for the new railway: originally named Active, it was soon renamed Locomotion. It was followed by “Hope”, “Diligence” and “Black Diamond”.

The Stockton and Darlington Railway opened on 27 September 1825. Driven by Stephenson, Locomotion hauled an 80-ton load of coal and flour nine miles (15 km) in two hours, reaching a speed of 24 miles per hour (39 km/h) on one stretch. The first purpose-built passenger car, dubbed Experiment,was attached, and carried dignitaries on the opening journey. It was the first time passenger traffic had been run on a steam locomotive railway. Although Richard Trevithick had demonstrated the idea back in 1808 using catch-me-who-can on a circular track which was situated near the present day Euston Station.The rails used for the new line were wrought-iron rails which could be produced in much longer lengths than the cast-iron ones and were much less liable to crack under the weight of heavy locomotives and The gauge that Stephenson chose for the line was 4 feet 81⁄2 inches (1,435 mm), and this subsequently came to be adopted as the standard gauge for railways, not only in Britain, but also throughout the world. Stephenson had also ascertained by experiments at Killingworth that half of the power of the locomotive was consumed by a gradient as little as 1 in 260 & came to the conclusion that railways should be kept as level as possible. He used this knowledge while working on the Bolton and Leigh Railway, and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (L&MR), executing a series ofdifficult cuts, embankments and stone viaducts to smooth the route the railways took.

As the L&MR approached completion in 1829, its directors arranged for a competition to decide who would build its locomotives, and the Rainhill Trials were run in October 1829. Entries could weigh no more than six tons and had to travel along the track for a total distance of 60 miles (97 km). Stephenson’s entry was Rocket, and its performance in winning the contest made it famous. The opening ceremony of the L&MR, on 15 September 1830, was a considerable event, drawing luminaries from the government and industry, including the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington. The day started with a procession of eight trains setting out from Liverpool. The parade was led by “Northumbrian” and included “Phoenix”, “North Star” and “Rocket”. The railway was a resounding success and Stephenson became famous, and was offered the position of chief engineer for a wide variety of other railways.1830 also saw the grand opening of the skew bridge in Rainhill as part of the grand opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The bridge was the first to cross any railway at an angle. This required the structure to be constructed as two flat planes (overlapping in this case by 6′) between which the stonework forms a parallelogram shape when viewed from above. This has the effect of flattening the arch and the solution is to lay the bricks forming the arch at an angle to the abutments (the piers on which the arches rest). This technique, which results in a spiral effect in the arch masonry, provides extra strength in the arch to compensate for the angled abutments.

George Stephenson sadly died 12 August 1848. However he led the world in the development of railways and this acted as a stimulus for the industrial revolution, by facilitating the transport of raw materials and manufactured goods. He is also credited with building the first public railway line in the world to use steam locomotives. the Victorians considered him a great example of diligent application and thirst for improvement, with self-help advocate Samuel Smiles particularly praising his achievements. With

His work on the Stockton and Darlington Railway and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway,  paved the way for the railway engineers who were to follow, such as his son Robert, his assistant Joseph Locke who went on to carry out much work on his own account and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. These men were following in his footsteps. Stephenson was also farsighted inrealising that the individual lines being built would eventually join together, and would need to have the same gauge. The standard gauge used throughout much of the world is His rail gauge of 4 feet 81⁄2 inches (1,435 mm), sometimes called “Stephenson gauge”, is the world’s standard gauge.

The Talyllyn Railway

Trains began running on the 7.25 miles (11.67 k Talyllyn narrow gauge Talyllyn Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Talyllyn) in Wales for the first time since preservation on 14 May 1951, from Tywyn on the Mid-Wales coast to Nant Gwernol near the village of Abergonolwyn.

The line was originally opened in 1865 to carry slate from the quarries at Bryn Eglwys to Tywyn, and was the first narrow gauge railway in Britain authorised by Act of Parliament to carry passengers using steam haulage.Slate quarrying began in the hills above Tywyn in the 1830s, but although many small quarries and test levels were established, only one major quarry was developed in the region, at Bryn Eglwys, 7 miles (11 km) north east of the town. Underground working began in the early 1840s, and by 1847 the quarry was being worked by local landowner John Pughe. The finished slates were sent by packhorse to the wharf at Pennal, transferred to boats for a river trip to Aberdyfi (or the Anglicised Aberdovey still commonly used), and then finally loaded into seagoing vessels, a complex and expensive transportation arrangement which limited the quarry’s output. In 1861 the outbreak of the American Civil War cut off supplies of cotton to the mills of the north west of England and as a result a number of prosperous mill owners looked for new business opportunities to diversify their interests. One such owner was William McConnel of Lancashire who, in 1859, had purchased a house near Dolgellau, north of Tywyn. In January 1864, McConnel formed the Aberdovey Slate Company, which leased the land including Bryn Eglwys from the landowner, Lewis Morris of Machynlleth.

McConnel set about improving Bryn Eglwys to increase its output. He focused on providing rail transport for the isolated quarry, and in April 1864 he reached agreement with local landowners to purchase the land necessary to build a railway towards Tywyn and the port of Aberdyfi. Construction was well underway by July 1864. The standard gauge Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway was expanding rapidly from its base at Machynlleth, however, and in 1863 had reached Tywyn, so McConnel decided to build his line from the quarry to Tywyn, as the nearest point where slate could be transferred to the standard gauge railway. This was despite the line’s initial isolation from the rest of the system because of difficulties in bridging the estuary of the River Dover( Afon Dyfi) to the south. An Act of Parliament allowing the company to operate passenger trains as a public railway was given Royal Assent on 5 July 1865, and the company appointed James Swinton Spooner as engineer for the construction. By September 1866 construction of the line climbing steadily from Tywyn to the quarry was progressing nicely

However it was discovered that the loading gauge of the line was too small. The internal width of the overbridges was only 9 ft 1 in (277 cm), but the railway’s passenger carriages were 5 ft 3.5 in (161.3 cm) wide, leaving less than 2 ft (61 cm) clearance on either side, less than the minimum required clearance of 2 ft 6 in (76 cm). To alleviate this problem, McConnel made an unusual alteration, and proposed that the doors on one side of each carriage be permanently barred and the track slewed off-centre beneath the bridges to allow adequate clearance at least on the side with doors, which would allow passengers to get out of the carriages if the train stopped underneath a bridge. Consequently all carriages on the Talyllyn have doors on one side only. Improvements were also made to the railway’s first two steam locomotives, as locomotive No. 1 suffered from excessive “vertical motion” and No. 2 was said to suffer from “horizontal oscillation”. No. 1 was returned to its manufacturer where a set of trailing wheels was added to reduce the rear overhang, and the springs on No. 2 were adjusted and crank pins shortened to reduce oscillation.

The first public passenger timetable was issued in December 1866, and the first purpose-built, steam-worked, narrow gauge public railway in Britain opened for service with two locomotives, one carriage and several goods vehicles in use. It was operated under a “one engine in steam” policy to ensure that two trains could not collide Initially the working locomotive was housed in a wooden shed at Ty Dwr on the mineral line above Abergynolwyn station, while the main engineering works at Pendre were constructed. The Pendre works opened on 17 February 1867 and from then on trains began working from Pendre instead of Abergynolwyn. Stations were provided at Pendre and Abergynolwyn. In 1867, the halt at Rhydyronen opened, followed by Brynglas and Dolgoch in 1873. Some time shortly after the opening of the railway a branch to Abergynolwyn village was provided. A steep incline dropped from the mineral line east of Abergynolwyn station to the village below, where a series of tram lines radiated. Unlike the horse-drawn Corris Railway The Talyllyn Railway used steam locomotives from the start, . The original two locomotives, although of entirely different design, were both purchased from Fletcher, Jennings & Co. of Whitehaven in Cumbria and both are still in service, 150 years on.

. The Talyllyn’s unusual gauge is thought to have been adopted to match that of the Corris Railway, and the line’s two original steam locomotives were among the earliest locomotives built for such a narrow gauge. No. 1 Talyllyn is an 0-4-2ST (saddle tank) and No. 2 Dolgoch is an 0-4-0WT (well tank). The line carried slate from the quarry to the wharf at Tywyn and general goods along its length. Public passenger trains initially ran between Abergynolwyn, Dolgoch and Pendre stations only; quarrymen were carried from Abergynolwyn to the foot of the Alltwyllt incline in Nant Gwernol gorge. The line served the quarry industry and the local district. By 1880, Bryn Eglwys employed 300 workers and was producing 8,000 long tons (8,100 t) of finished slate per year, all shipped via the railway. Passenger traffic rose from 11,500 passengers carried in 1867 to over 23,000 (roughly equivalent to 40,000 passenger journeys) in 1877. From the 1880s onwards the “Grand Tour” was a popular option with tourists. This used charabancs to link the Talyllyn and Corris railways via Tal-y-llyn Lake and Cadair Idris, returning on Cambrian Railways trains.

The last two decades of the 19th century saw a decline in the demand for slate and many smaller quarries fell on hard times, including Bryn Eglwys, where by 1890 production had halved to 4,000 long tons (4,100 t) a year. In 1896, production at the Penrhyn Quarry in north Wales, one of the largest producers of slate, was stopped due to labour disputes, resulting in a temporary increase in demand at other quarries. However In 1910 McConnell’s lease expired and work began on dismantling Bryn Eglwys quarry’s equipment. The Bryn Eglwys quarry had been the primary employer in the Abergynolwyn district, so its closure caused significant distress. In 1910, local landowner Henry Haydn Jones was elected the Liberal MP for Merioneth. He understood the importance of Bryn Eglwys, and purchased the quarry company for just over £5000. The quarry re-opened in January 1911. The first workings reopened were on the “Broad Vein”, which yielded relatively hard slate that was less popular and therefore difficult to sell. The lack of an available market for this output forced the quarry to switch to extracting softer slate from the “Narrow Vein.

Following the First World War A brief construction boom saw production return to around 4,000 long tons (4,100 t) per year and The 1920s also saw an upsurge in holiday traffic, as Britain recovered from the war and tourism gained in popularity. The Talyllyn saw summer passenger numbers grow significantly and regularly had to supplement its formal passenger stock with slate wagons fitted with planks as seats. An unusual tourist service offered by the railway was to hire a slate wagon, which would be left at Abergynolwyn. At the end of the day the tourists would return to Tywyn in the wagon, powered by gravity. However This service was discontinued in the early 1930s. The lease on Bryn Eglwys expired in 1942, but was extended on an annual basis. Sadly on 26 December 1946, several weakened support columns in the quarry gave way, resulting in a significant collapse; the quarry was deemed unsafe and closed immediately. Haydn Jones had promised to continue operating the railway as long as he was alive and so, despite the closure of the quarry, the railway continued to run trains on a shoestring budget. In 1948 the British railway system was nationalized however the Talyllyn was one of the few operating railways not included. Between 1947 and 1949 the railway ran a passenger service two days a week. In 1949 Haydn Jones, who owned the Aberllefenni Slate Quarry purchased 10 tons of rail from the recently lifted Corris Railway.

Sadly Haydn Jones died on 2 July 1950 and closure of the railway seemed inevitable, but the line continued to operate until October and in 1951 it became the first railway in the world to be preserved as a heritage railway by volunteers after the author and biographer Tom Rolt, visited the line in 1949, along with the locomotive engineer David Curwen and wrote a letter to the Birmingham Post newspaper suggesting that a rescue of the Talyllyn be undertaken. He received sufficient positive response for a meeting of interested enthusiasts to be held on 11 October 1950 at the Imperial Hotel in Birmingham. Around 70 people, including Patrick Whitehouse, attended the meeting. The committee – with Rolt as chairman and Whitehouse as Secretary – met for the first time on 23 October and entered into negotiation with Haydn Jones’ executor concerning the legally complex transfer of ownership from Haydn Jones’ estate to a new company called Talyllyn Holdings Ltd which took place on 8 February 1951, henceforth the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society effectively took control of the Railway and immediately began to publicise its efforts, hoping to raise funds and find further volunteers to help reopen the railway, and by May nearly 650 members had joined the society. The railway re-opened under the control of the Society for the first time on the Whit Monday bank holiday, 14 May 1951, with trains running between Wharf and Rhydyronen stations. Regular trains began to run on 4 June throughout the summer, with David Curwen acting as the first Chief Mechanical Engineer.

During the early years of preservation, the line struggled to operate using the original rolling stock. When the line was taken over in 1950 Dolgoch was the only operating locomotive and it was apparent that it was in need of a major overhaul. To enable operations to continue two further steam locomotives, Nos. 3 and 4, were purchased from the recently closed Corris Railway in 1951 and named Sir Haydn and Edward Thomas respectively. Because both railways were built to the unusual gauge of 2 ft 3 in (686 mm) it was relatively easy to adapt the Corris locomotives to work on the Talyllyn. No. 3 became the first new locomotive to travel on the railway for over 80 years in 1951, but it frequently derailed, and on inspection it turned out that the Talyllyn track was laid approximately half an inch (13 mm) wider than the official gauge, a deliberate policy by the old company to accommodate the long wheelbase of Talyllyn. Both Talyllyn and Dolgoch had unusually wide wheel treads that allowed them to stay on the wide-of-gauge track however This problem was eventually cured. No. 4 was unserviceable when it arrived, but John Alcock, the chairman of the Hunslet Engine Company, was a member of the Preservation Society and had No. 4 overhauled free of charge at his works. No. 4 then began service on the railway in 1952 and worked the majority of the trains that season.

On 22 May 1957 the BBC produced a live outside broadcast from the railway, during which Wynford Vaughan Thomas and Huw Weldon undertook a trip from Dolgoch to Abergynolwyn. The publicity from this broadcast drew substantial numbers of visitors to the railway that summer, with more than 57,500 passengers carried, and this increase in revenue in turn enabled the railway to continue to improve its infrastructure and provide tourists with a better experience. In 1958 No. 1 Talyllyn also returned to steam after an extensive overhaul.

The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum at Tywyn Wharf station was also built. The first exhibit for what was to become the museum was a locomotive donated in 1952 by Guinness from their recently closed St. James’s Gate Brewery railway. In 1954 the Preservation Society agreed to start work on a formal museum and exhibits from around the United Kingdom were acquired to form the nucleus of the collection. In 1955 work started on converting the old gunpowder store at Wharf station into a temporary museum building, and in 1956 the first exhibit arrived at Tywyn. The preservation society had long held ambitions to extend the railway along the former mineral extension from Abergynolwyn to the foot of the Alltwyllt incline but construction did not start until 1968 when the winding house for the Abergynolwyn village incline was demolished. In 1976, an extension was opened along the former mineral line from Abergynolwyn to the new station at Nant Gwernol by Wynford Vaughan Thomas who drove in the ceremonial “golden spike” to complete the extension. creation of footpaths also began connecting to the new station and A new footbridge was built crossing the Nant Gwernol gorge and connecting the station with the existing path on the east side of the river. The bridge and paths were opened on 3 May 1980 by Lord Parry, the chairman of the Wales Tourist Board

The Preservation Society celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2001, and as part of the year of celebrations a major new project was launched to once more extend and improve facilities at Tywyn Wharf station. semi-permanent buildings existed housing the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, but the new plans for the station included the construction of a new two-storey building to house the museum and the extension of the existing station building to house a new cafe and booking office these were officially opened by Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall on 13 July 2005. In 2008 a large amount of equipment was purchased from the 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge military railway at RNAD Trecwn, including a large quantity of track components and three diesel locomotives. In 2011, the railway celebrated the 60th anniversary as a heritage line and In April 2012, locomotive No.2 Dolgoch appeared at the Steel Steam and Stars Gala at the Llangollen Railway, running on a temporary section of narrow gauge track. In June 2013 the railway was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. 2015 was the 150th anniversary of the official opening of the railway. The Talyllyn has also inspired many other people; The fictional Skarloey Railway, which featured in Thomas the Tank Engine by The Rev. W. Awdry, was based on the Talyllyn Railway and preservation of the line inspired the Ealing Comedy film The Titfield Thunderbolt.

GWR 3440/3717 City of Truro

On the 9th May 1904, The steam locomotive City of Truro unofficially becomes the first steam engine in Europe to exceed 100 mph (160 km/h). GWR 3440 (3717) City Of Truro is a Great Western Railway (GWR) 3700 (or ‘City’) Class 4-4-0 locomotive, designed by George Jackson Churchward and built at the GWR Swindon Works in 1903. (It was rebuilt to a limited extent in 1911 and 1915, and renumbered 3717 in 1912). It is one of the contenders for the first steam locomotive to travel in excess of 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h).

City of Truro was timed at 8.8 seconds between two quarter-mile posts whilst hauling the “Ocean Mails” special from Plymouth to London Paddington on 9 May 1904. This timing was recorded from the train by Charles Rous-Marten, who wrote for The Railway Magazine and other journals. If exact (Rous-Marten’s stopwatch read in multiples of 1/5 second), this time would correspond to a speed of 102.3 mph (164.6 km/h), while 9 seconds would correspond to exactly 100 mph. Initially, mindful of the need to preserve their reputation for safety, the railway company allowed only the overall timings for the run to be put into print; neither The Times report of the following day nor Rous-Marten’s article in The Railway Magazine of June 1904 mentioned the maximum speed.

However the morning after the run two local Plymouth newspapers did report that the train had reached a speed between 99 and 100 miles an hour whilst descending Wellington bank in Somerset. This claim was based on the stopwatch timings of a postal worker, William Kennedy, who was also on the train. After the 1904 speed record, 3440 continued in everyday service until it was rendered obsolete in 1931, being withdrawn from service in March that year. The historical significance of City of Truro led to the locomotive’s survival after withdrawal from service, with the GWR’s Chief Mechanical Engineer Charles Collett asking that the engine be preserved at the London and North Eastern Railway’s Railway Museum at York when she was withdrawn in 1931, after the directors of the GWR had refused to preserve the engine at the company’s expense. It was donated to the LNER, being sent from Swindon on 20 March 1931, and was subsequently displayed at the new museum in York.

In 1957 City of Truro was returned to service by British Railways Western Region. The locomotive was based at Didcot, and was used both for hauling special excursion trains and for normal revenue services, usually on the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton line, and was renumbered back to 3440, and repainted into the ornate livery it carried at the time of its speed record in 1904, despite this being inaccurate due to its minor rebuilding in 1911. She was withdrawn for a second time in 1961. She was taken to Swindon’s GWR Museum in 1962 where, renumbered back to 3717 and in plain green livery with black frames, she stayed until 1984, when she was restored for the GWR’s 150th anniversary celebrations the following year. After that she returned to the National Railway Museum from where she was occasionally used on main line outings. She made a guest appearance in an exhibition called National Railway Museum on Tour which visited Swindon in 1990.

Her latest restoration to full working order was undertaken in 2004, at a cost of £130,000, to mark the 100th anniversary of her record-breaking run, and the loco has subsequently hauled several trains on UK main lines, although due to the lack of certain safety features she no longer operates on the main line. Her latest restoration to full working order was undertaken in 2004, at a cost of £130,000, to mark the 100th anniversary of her record-breaking run, and the loco has subsequently hauled several trains on UK main lines, although due to the lack of certain safety features she no longer operates on the main line.[citation needed] City of Truro is now based semi-permanently at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, where she can often be seen hauling trains between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse. However she frequently leaves her Toddington base to visit other UK heritage railways. In 2010 as part of the celebrations to mark the 175th anniversary of the founding of the GWR City of Truro was repainted and took up its 3717 guise once again. This is the first time it has carried an authentic livery for its current state whilst operating in preservation.GWR 3717 was withdrawn from traffic at the Bodmin & Wenford Railway in early September 2011 with serious tube leaks, and was moved to Shildon Locomotion Museum and placed on static display (I was lucky enough to see it in steam at the Severn Valley Railway’s 2008 Autumn Steam Gala).

Richard Trevithick

Pen-y-Darren

BCornish Inventor and Mining Engineer Richard Trevithick was born 13 April 1771 in Tregajorran, Cornwall and his most significant success was the high pressure steam engine and he also built the first full-scale working railway steam locomotive. On 21 February 1804 the world’s first locomotive-hauled railway journey took place as Trevithick’s unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train

Catch-me-who-Can

along the tramway of the Pen-y-darren Ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. Trevithick was an engineer at a mine in 1797 and with the help of Edward Bull pioneered the use of a High Pressure Steam Engine, but ran afoul of Matthew Boulton & James Watt, who were working on a similar device and held a number of Patents. He improved boiler technology allowing the safe production of high pressure steam, able to move pistons in steam engines instead of using atmospheric pressure.

William Murdoch also demonstrated a model steam carriage to Trevithick in 1794. In fact, Trevithick lived next door to Murdoch in Redruth in 1797 and 1798. Oliver Evans in the U.S. Was working on something similar and Arthur Woolf was also experimenting on a similar engine whilst working as the Chief Engineer of the Griffin Brewery. However Trevithick actually made high pressure steam work, eliminating the need for a condenser, and allowing the use of a smaller cylinder, saving space and weight. Making the engine more compact, lighter and small enough to carry its own weight even with a carriage attached. Trevithick started building his first stationary models of high pressure steam engines, then attached one to a road carriage. Exhaust steam was vented via a vertical chimney, thus avoiding a condenser and any possible infringements of Watt’s patent, with linear motion being converted into circular motion via a crank instead of a beam. Trevithick built a full-size steam road locomotive in 1801 in Camborne. He named the carriage ‘Puffing Devil’ and, on Christmas Eve it successfully carried seven men from Fore Street up Camborne Hill, past Camborne Cross, to the nearby village of Beacon with his cousin and associate, Andrew Vivian, steering. This is inspired the popular Cornish folk song “Camborne Hill”. However, a steam wagon built in 1770 by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot may have an earlier claim. During further tests, Trevithick’s locomotive was prone to break down and on one occasion the Boiler was allowed to run dry and the machine exploded. Trevithick did not consider this a serious setback, but rather operator error. In 1802 Trevithick took out a patent for his high pressure steam engine.

Coalbrookdale Engine

To prove his ideas, he built a stationary engine at the Coalbrookdale Company’s works in Shropshire in 1802. The Coalbrookdale company then built a rail locomotive for him, but little is known about it, including whether or not it actually ran. To date, the only known information about it comes from a drawing preserved at the Science Museum, London, together with a letter written by Trevithick to his friend, Davies Giddy. The design incorporated a single horizontal cylinder enclosed in a return-flue boiler. A flywheel drove the wheels on one side through spur gears, and the axles were mounted directly on the boiler, with no frame. Unfortunately The Puffing Devil could not maintain sufficient steam pressure and would have been of little practical use. In 1803 he built another steam-powered road vehicle called the London Steam Carriage, which attracted much attention from the public and press when he drove it that year in London from Holborn to Paddington and back. It was uncomfortable for passengers and proved more expensive to run than a horse-drawn carriage and so the project was abandoned.

London Steam Carriage

In 1802 Trevithick built one of his high pressure steam engines to drive a hammer at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. With the assistance of Rees Jones, an employee of the iron works and under the supervision of Samuel Homfray, the proprietor, he mounted the engine on wheels and turned it into a locomotive. In 1803 Trevithick sold the patents for his locomotives to Samuel Homfray. Homfrey was so impressed with Trevithick’s locomotive that he made a bet with another ironmaster, Richard Crawshay, for 500 guineas that Trevithick’s steam locomotive could haul 10 tons of iron along the Merthyr Tydfil Tramroad from Penydarren to Abercynon , a distance of 9.75 miles (16 km). Amid great interest from the public, on 21 February 1804 it successfully carried 10 tons of iron, 5 wagons and 70 men the full distance in 4 hours and 5 minutes, an average speed of approximately 2.4 mph (3.9 km/h). As well as Homfray, Crawshay and the passengers, other witnesses included Mr. Giddy, a respected patron of Trevithick and an ‘engineer from the Government’. The locomotive was relatively primitive comprising of a boiler with a single return flue mounted on a four wheel frame. At one end, a single cylinder with very long stroke was mounted partly in the boiler, and a piston rod crosshead ran out along a slidebar, an arrangement that looked like a giant trombone. As there was only one cylinder, this was coupled to a large flywheel mounted on one side. The rotational inertia of the flywheel would even out the movement that was transmitted to a central cog-wheel that was, in turn connected to the driving wheels. It used a high pressure cylinder without a condenser, the exhaust steam was sent up the chimney assisting the draught through the fire, increasing efficiency even more. The proprietor of the Wylam colliery near Newcastle, heard of the success in Wales and wrote to Trevithick asking for locomotive designs. These were sent to John Whitfield at Gateshead, Trevithick’s agent, who built what was probably the first locomotive to have flanged wheels. Unfortunately Trevithick’s machine was too heavy for the wooden track.

Then In 1808 Trevithick publicised his steam railway locomotive expertise by building a new locomotive called ‘Catch me who can’, built for him by John Hazledine and John Urpeth Rastrick at Bridgnorth in Shropshire, This was similar to that used at Penydarren and named by Mr. Giddy’s daughter. This was Trevithick’s third railway locomotive after those used at Pen-y-darren ironworks and the Wylam colliery. He ran it on a circular track just south of the present day Euston Square tube station in London, Admission to the “steam circus” was one shilling including a ride and it was intended to show that rail travel was faster than by horse. So Recently a group of dedicated people down at the Severn Valley Railway decided to build a replica of Catch-Me-Who-Can. In 1805 Cornish Engineer Robert Vazie, excavated a tunnel under the River Thames at Rotherhithe and had serious problems with flooding getting no further than sinking the end shafts. So Trevithick was consulted and paid £1000 (the equivalent of £67,387 as of 2014 to complete the tunnel, a length of 1220 feet (366 m). In August 1807 Trevithick began driving a small pilot tunnel and By 23 December after it had progressed 950 feet (285 m) however progress was delayed after The tunnel was flooded twice and Trevithick, was nearly drowned consequently the project was not completed until 1843 when Sir Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel built a tunnel under the Thames. Trevithick’s used a submerged tube to cross the Detroit River in Michigan with the construction of the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel, under the engineering supervision of The New York Central Railway’s engineering vice president, William J Wilgus. Construction began in 1903 and was completed in 1910. The Detroit–Windsor Tunnel which was completed in 1930 for automotive traffic, and the tunnel under the Hong Kong harbour were also submerged tube designs. Trevithick’s high-pressure steam engines had many applications including cannon manufacture, stone crushing, rolling mills, forge hammers, blast furnace blowers and traditional mining. He also built a barge powered by paddle wheels and several dredgers.

In 1808, Trevithick entered a partnership with West Indian Merchant Robert Dickinson, who had supported Trevithick’s patents. Including the ‘Nautical Labourer’; a steam tug with a floating crane propelled by paddle wheels. He also patented Iron tanks in ships for storage of cargo and water instead of in wooden caskS, these were also used to raise sunken wrecks by placing them under the wreck and creating buoyancy by pumping them full of air. In 1810 a wreck near Margate was raised in this way. Trevithick worked on many other ideas on improvements for ships: iron floating docks, iron ships, telescopic iron masts, improved ship structures, iron buoys and using heat from the ships boilers for cooking. In May 1810, he caught typhoid and nearly died and in February 1811 he and Dickinson were declared bankrupt. Around 1812, Trevithick designed the ‘Cornish boiler’. These were horizontal, cylindrical boilers with a single internal fire tube or flue passing horizontally through the middle. Hot exhaust gases from the fire passed through the flue thus increasing the surface area heating the water and improving efficiency. These types were installed in the Boulton and Watt pumping engines at Dolcoath and more than doubled their efficiency.

Again in 1812, he installed a new ‘high-pressure’ experimental steam engine also with condensing at Wheal Prosper. This became known as the ‘Cornish engine’ and was the most efficient in the world at that time. Other Cornish engineers contributed to its development but Trevithick’s work was predominant. In the same year he installed another high-pressure engine, though non-condensing, in a threshing machine on a farm at Probus, Cornwall. It was very successful and proved to be cheaper to run than the horses it replaced. It ran for 70 years and is exhibited at the Science Museum. Trevithick attempted to build a ‘recoil engine’ similar to the aeolipile described by Hero of Alexandria in about AD 50, this comprised a boiler feeding a hollow axle to route the steam to a catherine wheel with two fine-bore steam jets on its circumference. The first wheel was 15 feet (4.6 m) in diameter and a later attempt was 24 feet (7.3 m) in diameter. To get any usable torque, steam had to issue from the nozzles at a very high velocity and in such large volume that it proved not to operate with adequate efficiency. Today this would be recognised as a reaction turbine.

Around 1811 a miner, named Francisco Uville bought one of Trevithick’s Hight Pressure Steam Engine for draining water from his silver mine at Cerro de Pasco, Peru. In 1813 Uville set sail again for England and, having fallen ill on the way, broke his journey via Jamaica. When he had recovered he boarded the Falmouth packet ship ‘Fox’ coincidentally with one of Trevithick’s cousins on board the same vessel. On 20 October 1816 Trevithick left Penzance on the whaler ship Asp accompanied by a lawyer named Page and a boilermaker bound for Peru where he travelled widely, acting as a consultant on mining methods. The government granted him certain mining rights and he found mining areas, but did not have the funds to develop them, with the exception of a copper and silver mine at Caxatambo.

After serving in the army of Simon Bolivar he returned to Caxatambo but was forced to leave the area and abandon £5000 worth of ore ready to ship. Uville died in 1818 and Trevithick soon returned to Cerro de Pasco And After leaving Cerro de Pasco, Trevithick passed through Ecuador on his way to Bogotá in Colombia. He arrived in Costa Rica in 1822 to build mining machinery. However transporting ore and equipment, using the San Juan River, the Sarapiqui River, and the railway proved treacherous And Trevithick was nearly killed on at least two occasions – he nearly drowned, and was nearly devoured by an alligator.He made his way to Cartagena where he met Robert Stephenson who was on his way home from Colombia. And Stephenson gave Trevithick £50 to help his passage home. He arrived at Falmouth in October 1827 with few possessions other than the clothes he was wearing, unsurprisingly Trevithick never returned to Costa Rica. In 1829 he built a closed cycle steam engine followed by a vertical tubular boiler. In1830 he invented an early form of storage room heater, which comprised a small fire tube boiler with a detachable flue which could be heated either outside or indoors with the flue connected to a chimney. To commemorate the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832 he designed a massive column to be 1000 feet (300 m) high, 100 feet (30 m) in diameter at the base tapering to 12 feet (3.6 m) at the top where a statue of a horse would have been mounted. but it was never built. he was also invited to work on an engine of a new vessel at Dartford, Which involved a reaction turbine.

Despite his many innovations Richard Trevithick died penniless on April 22 1833 while lodging at the Bull Hotel, Dartford After being taken ill with pneumonia. Following a week’s confinement in bed he died on the morning of 22 April 1833. Trevithick was buried in an unmarked grave in St Edmunds Burial Ground, East Hill, Dartford. The burial ground closed in 1857, with the gravestones being removed in the 1960s. However A plaque marks the approximate spot believed to be the site of the grave on the side of the park, near the East Hill gate. He made a valuable contribution to engineering and technology and many replicas of his machinery have since been built. A replica of Catch-me-who-can has been built at the Severn Valley Railway

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Best known for building dockyards, the Great Western Railway, steamships, bridges, tunnels and revolutionising public transport and modern engineering, the British mechanical and Civil Engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS was born 9 April 1806.When Brunel was eight he was sent to Dr Morrell’s boarding school in Hove, where he learned the classics. His father, was determined that Brunel should have access to the high-quality education he had enjoyed in his youth in France; accordingly, at the age of 14, the younger Brunel was enrolled first at the College of Caen in Normandy, then at Lycée Henri-Quatre in Paris. Sadly his because his Father Marc sent him to expensive schools, he encountered financial problems, however because he was a Prominent engineer the Government intervened on his behalf. When Brunel completed his studies at Henri-Quatre in 1822, he was due to attend the renowned engineering school École Polytechnique, however Brunel studied under the prominent master clockmaker and horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet instead, after he praised Brunel’s potential in letters to his father.In late 1822, having completed his apprenticeship, Brunel returned to England. Brunel worked for several years as an assistant engineer on the hazardous project to create a tunnel under London’s River Thames near Rotherhithe, alongside his Father, who was chief engineer. However cave-ins and severe flooding in 1828 killed a number of Miners a delayed work, with Brunel narrowly escaping death himself.

During the early part of Brunel’s life, the use of railways began to take off as a major means of transport for goods. This influenced Brunel’s involvement in railway engineering, including railway bridge engineering. In 1833, before the Thames Tunnel was complete, Brunel was appointed chief engineer of the Great Western Railway, one of the wonders of Victorian Britain, running from London to Bristol and later Exeter. The company was founded at a public meeting in Bristol in 1833, and was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1835. It was Brunel’s vision that passengers would be able to purchase one ticket at London Paddington and travel from London to New York, changing from the Great Western Railway to the Great Western steamship at the terminus in Neyland, South Wales. He surveyed the entire length of the route between London and Bristol himself, with the help of many including his Solicitor Jeremiah Osborne of Bristol Law Firm Osborne Clarke who one occasion rowed Isambard Kingdom Brunel down the River Avon himself to survey the bank of the river for the route. Brunel decided to use a broad gauge of 7 ft 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) for the track, despite almost all other railways using standard Gauge, because he believed Broad Gauge would offer superior running at high speeds; he also proved through both calculation and a series of trials that his broader gauge was the optimum size for providing both higher speeds and a stable and comfortable ride to passengers, with the wider gauge allowing for larger carriages and thus greater freight capacity.

Drawing on Brunel’s experience with the Thames Tunnel, the Great Western designed many architectural feats of engineering including soaring viaducts such as the one in Ivybridge, specially designed stations, and vast tunnels including the Box Tunnel, which was the longest railway tunnel in the world at that time. Brunel also ordered many Locomotives to his own specification including “North Star” and 20-year-old Daniel Gooch (later Sir Daniel) was appointed as Superintendent of Locomotive Engines. Brunel and Gooch chose to locate their locomotive works at the village of Swindon.

Brunel also designed many bridges including the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, which spans over 700 ft (210 m), and nominally 200 ft (61 m) above the River Avon. Brunel submitted his designs to a committee headed by Thomas Telford, who rejected all entries, in favour of his own design, however the Public voted in favour of Brunel’s design. Brunel also designed the Maidenhead Railway Bridge. Work also started on the Clifton suspension bridge in 1831, but was suspended due to the Queen Square Riots, However Thanks to colleagues at the Institute of Civil Engineers Work recommenced in 1862 and was completed in 1864, five years after Brunel’s death. The Clifton Suspension Bridge still stands today and over 4 million vehicles traverse it every year.

Brunel also designed the Royal Albert Bridge spanning the River Tamar at Saltash near Plymouth, Somerset Bridge (an unusual laminated timber-framed bridge near Bridgwater, the Windsor Railway Bridge. The Maidenhead Railway Bridge over the Thames in Berkshire is still carrying main line trains to the west, even though today’s trains are about ten times heavier than in Brunel’s time.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. Brunel also designed the Royal Albert Bridge in 1855 for the Cornwall Railway, this 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.

PART TWO

Brunel’s achievements inspired and ignited the imagination of many technically minded Britons. However After Brunel’s death standard gauge was adopted by all railways in the country. Despite the Great Western’s claim of proof that its broad gauge was the better the decision was made to use Stephenson’s standard gauge, mainly because this had already covered a far greater amount of the country. However, by May 1892 when the broad gauge was abolished the Great Western had already been re-laid as dual gauge (both broad and standard). There is also a larger than life bronze statue of him at Neyland holding a steamship in one hand and a locomotive in the othe

another of Brunel’s interesting use of technical innovations was the atmospheric railway, the extension of the Great Western Railway (GWR) southward from Exeter towards Plymouth, technically the South Devon Railway (SDR), though supported by the GWR. Instead of using locomotives, the trains were moved by Clegg and Samuda’s patented system of atmospheric (vacuum) traction, whereby stationary pumps sucked air from a pipe placed in the centre of the track.The section from Exeter to Newton (now Newton Abbot) was completed on this principle, and trains ran at approximately 68 miles per hour (109 km/h). Pumping stations with distinctive square chimneys were sited at two-mile intervals.  Fifteen-inch (381 mm) pipes were used on the level portions, and 22-inch (559 mm) pipes were intended for the steeper gradients.The technology required the use of leather flaps to seal the vacuum pipes. The natural oils were drawn out of the leather by the vacuum, making the leather vulnerable to water, rotting it and breaking the fibres when it froze. It had to be kept supple with tallow, which is attractive to rats. The flaps were eaten, and vacuum operation lasted less than a year, from 1847 (experimental service began in September; operations from February 1848) to 10 September 1849. A number of South Devon Railway engine houses still stand, including that at Totnes (scheduled as a grade II listed monument in 2007 to prevent its imminent demolition, even as Brunel’s bicentenary celebrations were continuing) and at Starcross, on the estuary of the River Exe, which is a striking landmark, and a reminder of the atmospheric railway, also commemorated as the name of the village pub.

In 1835, before the Great Western Railway had opened, Brunel proposed extending its transport network by boat from Bristol across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City. The Great Western Steamship Company was formed by Thomas Guppy for that purpose. It was widely disputed whether it would be commercially viable for a ship powered purely by steam to make such long 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.

To test this theory, Brunel offered his services for free to the Great Western Steamship Company, which appointed him to its building committee and entrusted him with designing its first ship, the Great Western.When it was built, the Great Western was the longest ship in the world at 236 ft (72 m) with a 250-foot (76 m) keel. The ship was constructed mainly from wood, but Brunel added bolts and iron diagonal reinforcements to maintain the keel’s strength. In addition to its steam-powered paddle wheels, the ship carried four masts for sails. The Great Western embarked on her maiden voyage from Avonmouth, Bristol, to New York on 8 April 1838 with 600 long tons (610,000 kg) of coal, cargo and seven passengers on board. Brunel himself missed this initial crossing, having been injured during a fire aboard the ship as she was returning from fitting out in London.

As the fire delayed the launch several days, the Great Western missed its opportunity to claim title as the first ship to cross the Atlantic under steam power alone. Even with a four-day head start, the competing Sirius arrived only one day earlier and its crew was forced to burn cabin furniture, spare yards and one mast for fuel. In contrast, the Great Western crossing of the Atlantic took 15 days and five hours, and the ship arrived at her destination with a third of its coal still remaining, demonstrating that Brunel’s calculations were correct. The Great Western had proved the viability of commercial transatlantic steamship service, which led the Great Western Steamboat Company to use her in regular service between Bristol and New York from 1838 to 1846. She made 64 crossings, and was the first ship to hold the Blue Riband with a crossing time of 13 days westbound and 12 days 6 hours eastbound. The service was commercially successful enough for a sister ship to be required, which Brunel was asked to design.

Brunel had become convinced of the superiority of propeller-driven ships over paddle wheels. After tests conducted aboard the propeller-driven steam tug Archimedes, he incorporated a large six-bladed propeller into his design for the 322-foot (98 m) Great Britain, which was launched in 1843.Great Britain is considered the first modern ship, being built of metal rather than wood, powered by an engine rather than wind or oars, and driven by propeller rather than paddle wheel. She was the first iron-hulled, propeller-driven ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean.Her maiden voyage was made in August and September 1845, from Liverpool to New York. In 1846, she was run aground at Dundrum, County Down. She was salvaged and employed in the Australian service.And today she is fully preserved and open to the public in Bristol, UK.

In 1852 Brunel turned to a third ship, larger than her predecessors, intended for voyages to India and Australia. The Great Eastern (originally dubbed Leviathan) was cutting-edge technology for her time: almost 700 ft (210 m) long, fitted out with the most luxurious appointments, and capable of carrying over 4,000 passengers. Great Eastern was designed to cruise non-stop from London to Sydney and back (since engineers of the time misunderstood that Australia had no coal reserves), and she remained the largest ship built until the start of the 20th century. Like many of Brunel’s ambitious projects, the ship soon ran over budget and behind schedule in the face of a series of technical problems. The ship has been portrayed as a white elephant, but it has been argued by David P. Billington that in this case Brunel’s failure was principally one of economics—his ships were simply years ahead of their time. His vision and engineering innovations made the building of large-scale, propeller-driven, all-metal steamships a practical reality, but the prevailing economic and industrial conditions meant that it would be several decades before transoceanic steamship travel emerged as a viable industry.Great Eastern was built at John Scott Russell’s Napier Yard in London, and after two trial trips in 1859, set forth on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on 17 June 1860. Though a failure at her original purpose of passenger travel, she eventually found a role as an oceanic telegraph cable-layer. Under Captain Sir James Anderson, the Great Eastern played a significant role in laying the first lasting transatlantic telegraph cable, which enabled telecommunication between Europe and North America.

Brunel became A celebrated engineer in his era and numerous monuments were dedicated to Brunel in London at Temple, Brunel University, Paddington station, Bristol, Plymouth, Swindon, Milford Haven and Saltash. The topmast of the Great Eastern is also used as a flagpole at the entrance to Anfield, Liverpool Football Club’s ground.Contemporary locations bear Brunel’s name, such as Brunel University in London, a shopping centre in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, and a collection of streets in Exeter: Isambard Terrace, Kingdom Mews, and Brunel Close. A road, car park, and school in his home city of Portsmouth are also named in his honour, along with one of the city’s largest public houses There is an engineering lab building at the University of Plymouth named in his honour.

In a 2002 BBC television poll Of the “100 Greatest Britons”, Brunel came second, behind Winston Churchill. Brunel’s life and works have been depicted in numerous books, films and television programs. Perhaps the most recent is the 2003 book and BBC TV series, Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, which included a dramatisation of the building of the Great Eastern. Many of Brunel’s bridges are also still in use, having stood the test of time. Brunel’s first engineering project, the Thames Tunnel, is now part of the London Overground network. The Brunel Engine House at Rotherhithe, which once housed the steam engines that powered the tunnel pumps, now houses the Brunel Museum dedicated to the work and lives of Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Many of Brunel’s original papers and designs are now held in the Brunel Institute alongside the SS Great Britain in Bristol, and are freely available for researchers.

British Steam Railways

I am currently collecting British Steam Railways, the latest series of lavishly-illustrated hard backed books by DeAgostini. These chronicle the rise of Steam Power in Britain, From the efforts of early pioneers like Cugnot, Richard Trevithick and George Stephenson. The books look at the origins of the steam locomotive and also features Early locomotives such as Stepenson’s Rocket and Locomotion No.1. It also features Powerful Turn of the Century locomotives like the Midland Railway Compound no.1000 and GWR 3717/3440 City-of-Truro which held the unofficial record for being the first locomotive to exceed 100 miles per hour.

British Steam railways also looks at the period between World war One and the 1920’s and features the Q1 Class Locomotives, LNER A3 4-6-2 4472 Flying Scotsman and the GWR 4-6-0 Castle Class locomotives. It also looks at the golden age in the 1930’s When train travel was seen as glamorous and The World Record breaking steam locomotive LNER A4 4-6-2 locomotive no. 4468 Mallard reached 126 Miles per hour and broke the record for being the worlds fastest steam locomotive.

The books also feature in depth articles on noteworthy Chief Mechanical Engineers such as sir Nigel Gresley, Charles Collett, Henry Ivatt and sir William Stanier, whose innovative designs with the Jubilees, Black Fives and the three cylinder Princess Royal Class Locomotives helped to shape locomotive development throughout the years and culminated in the Duchess of Hamilton and Duke of Gloucester which were among the most powerful Pacific locomotives. Another noteworthy chief Mechanical engineer featured is the Southern Railway’s Richard Maunsell who took Robert Urie’s original locomotive designs such as the S15, King Arthur Class, Lord Nelson and Schools class and improved upon them. The series also looks at innovative and technologically advanced cutting edge locomotives such as Oliver Bulleid’s 1941 Merchant Navy Class locomotives, Battle Of Britain Class locomotives and West Country light pacifics. Also featured are the GWR KING class 4-6-0 locomotives which are also among the most powerful British Steam Locomotives. Many other noteworthy locomotives are featured such as LNER D49, j94 Austerities, SR PACIFIC 35028 Clan Line, GWR Hall Locomotives, Jones Goods Locomotives, Duke of Gloucester, LMS 6100 Royal Scot, lMS 6201 Princess Elizabeth, GWR 3440 City of Truro, 4771 Green Arrow, King George V, LMS 8f’s, Q1 Class.

The books also look at the formation of the big four railway companies Great Western, London North East, London Midland Scotland and Southern Railway in 1923 and also look at the post-war period when the Railway was nationalised in 1948 to form British Railways, in an effort to save money and saw a new range of Standard Locomotives being introduced. However this measure plus lack of investment, saw the slow decline of steam in the Railways during the 1950’s and 1960’s. This was hastened by the so-called Beeching Axe. When ICI BOSS Sir Richard Beeching was asked by the government to stop the railways losing money So he recommended a series of closures and favoured road transport. This plus the introduction of Diesel Locomotives sounded the death knell for the final steam locomotives made in the 1960’s such as the Britannia Class locomotives and the Standard Class 92xxx 2-10-0 class freight locomotives such as Evening star which were only introduced only a few years before steam traction was banned outright in 1968 following the Fifteen Guineas Special in August 1968.

There are also twelve DVD’s including Arfon Haines DVD Learning to Steam, these feature hours of archive steam footage, footage of preserved Steam Engines running on Heritage lines and footage from the footplate. Plus a silver plated stationmasters pocket-watch and TWO Stunning prints of LNER 4472 Flying Scotsman and LNER 4468 Mallard.