Tag: 1858

An Indian Railway Station Defended

From The Illustrated London News, January 2, 1858, Volume 32, January – June 1858

East Indian Railway Water-Tank at Barwarie, Defended Against the Mutineers for Thirty-Two Hours

(From a Correspondent at Allahabad.)

I send you a sketch of a Railway Water-tank at Barwarie, twenty-three miles from Allahabad. The village in the distance is Barwarie. The dimensions of the tank were about 18 feet high, 22 feet long, 24 feet broad, and depth of tank 4 feet.

On Sunday, the 7th June, 1857, at noon, the day after the massacre at Allahabad, P. O Snow, railway engineer, Mr. J. Rose, Mr. Mathers, Mr. Leithbridge, wife and child, Mr. J. Keymer, wife and three children, Mr. R. Keymer, all employed on the railway, and Major and Mrs. Ryves, were assembled at the latter’s bungalow at Barwarie, when information was brought that Mr. Lancaster, an inspector, had been murdered, a mile off, when trying to join the above party. Immediately on receiving this news, Mr. Ryves and the women and children were assisted up on the top of the tank, we men intending to come down again for provisions &c.; but, as an immense number of armed natives begun to assemble, it was deemed more prudent to remain where we were, else we might have been cut off.

The natives commenced to loot, and destroy the furniture, &c., in the small bungalow (shown in the sketch) belonging to the railway contractors Messrs. Norris and Co., which having completed, they . went in a mass to my bungalow (about 100 yards in front of the tank), where they began to loot everything I was possessed of, even to taking off doom and windows, and breaking to pieces what they could not take away. Having completed this work of destruction they set fire to the bungalow, outhouses, and everything that would burn. Then, shouting and yelling, they rushed over and surrounded the tank by hundreds, throwing brickbats and stones at us. We kept them off with our guns. The top of the tank had no cover; and the women and children had to be protected by a mattress, which they sat under to prevent being killed by these missiles. The cowardly rascals kept this up constantly (several of us had severe contusions), at the same time demanding money, which we threw them. When they found we had no more left (having expended 3000 rupees), they wanted us to come down. We refused to do so They then brought straw and other inflammable matter, and piled it round the tank, and set fire to it, which caused a great suffering from the smoke and heat, but, the tank being of brick, it sustained no damage. Finding all their exertions to make us yield had failed, they said they would spare our lives if we all turned Mahometans. This, of course, one and all refused to accede to; a party was dispatched, saying the were going to muster a large armed force to escalade our stronghold during the night.; we told them we were prepared to sell our lives in protecting the woman and children. We were thus exposed (14 of us) with no covering from the fearful heat of the sun, very little water to drink, and only parched grain and boiled rice to eat for 52 hours; and had to defend our post against a mob of 3000.

On the morning of the 8th Mr. Smyth, an inspector, joined our party, very severely wounded, having had to run or his life, accompanied by Inspector Thomas, who was murdered that morning when on their way to join us. We pulled Mr. Smyth up to the top of the tank with ropes. This increased our party to 15. He was too weak from wounds to be of any assistance.

Having succeeded in getting a servant to take a note to the commanding officer at the fort of Allahabad, telling him of our position, a relief of 35 Irregular Cavalry were went out to us, and arrived at 4 p.m. on the 9th. Glad we were to see them, and a hearty cheer we gave them, inwardly returning thanks to God for this succour, as we should have had to fight hard for our lives that night. The distress of the poor women and children (without any conveniences) can hardly be supposed except by those who have experienced the heat of an Indian sun in the month of June. Mrs. Ryves was killed by its effects. She died in an hour after the relief had arrived, thus adding another victim to the long list of deaths occasioned by this awful rebellion.

The villagers, headed by the zemindars, were the people who looted, destroyed, and burnt all the railway gentlemen’s bungalows on the line.

T. J. Ryves

Renewed Attempt to Launch the Leviathan

From The Illustrated London News, January 9, 1858, Volume 32, January – June 1858

THE ” LEVIATHAN ” — A renewed attempt has been made this week to launch this vessel. The machinery used and the hydraulic apparatus had been greatly increased in strength, and instead of six hydraulic machines ten have been brought into play, one being the original press used in the operations for carrying out that vast undertaking the Menai Bridge and which alone gave over 200 tons nominal pressure. A progress of several feet each day has been made, and no cessation of operations will take place until the huge ship is fairly in the water.

Biographical Sketch: Mr. Brunel, FRS

From The Illustrated London News, April 3, 1858, Volume 32, January – June 1858

MR. BRUNEL is the son of the eminent man known to the world as the author of the most marvelous of engineering works – the Thames Tunnel. He was born at Portsmouth, in the year 1806, while his father was engaged in fulfilling a contract with the Government for the construction of a machine, or rather a series of machines, for the manufacture of block pulleys by steam. While quite young the lad, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was taken to France for the purpose of being educated at the Collage of Henry IV, at Caen. At the conclusion of his studies, he underwent a course of training for the duties of an engineer, and returned to England in time to assist in the greatest of his father’s works – the Thames Tunnel. The young man took an active part in the undertaking, and shared in the many disappointments, the personal danger, and the final triumph of that remarkable work. From this time forward young Brunel made progression in his profession. He joined his father in his well-known experiments for the purpose of making a motive power of carbonic gas. To a certain extent the mechanical difficulties were overcome, but the cost of the machinery and difficulties of its use prevented its introduction as a substitute for steam. This investigation was an anxious labor of ten years’ duration, both father and son devoting their abilities to the task. In the meantime the subject of our Sketch was studying railway engineering, the construction of locomotives, and other matters appertaining to steam navigation. In 1888 he was appointed engineer-in-chief of the Great Western Railway, and has remained so ever since. The whole of the tunnels, bridges, and other works on this line, and others in continuation of the western route, were constructed under the immediate superintendence of Mr. Brunel. . Both bridges and tunnels were more than ordinarily difficult, on account of the broad gauge system adopted by the directors. The gauge was recommend by Mr. Brunel, but was stoutly opposed by many eminent and scientific men. The Great Western directors, however, supported their own engineer. In his report of 1838 Mr. Brunel represented that the position of the Great Western line was such that it could have no connection with any other of the man lines of railway; that it had the exclusive command of its special district; that no inconvenience would result from the diversity of gauge. as that district entirely isolated from the others, and further, that no extension of the line towards the north would be required. It was even anticipated by Mr . Brunel that, if other railways were formed, their exclusion from a connection with the Great Western line by the difference of gauge would be of advantage to the company, by securing for it a monopoly of the traffic to and from South Wales and the west of England for all time to come. The Great Western Railway was thus constructed to be independent of all other railways, and to stand apart from them in solitary grandeur. The engineer received the warm encomiums of the directors and proprietors, who considered it a bold and original thing to plant a railway which was to be more than two feet broader than any other, requiring works and plant on corresponding scale, without regard to past example and experience. Provincial patriotism was also evoked in favour of the measure; and it was anticipated that Bristol would rival, if not far outstrip, Liverpool in its railway accommodation and facilities. In Mr. Smiles’ admirable work, “The Life of George Stephenson,” we find an excellent history of this “battle of the gauges,” more especially Mr. Stephenson’s opposition to the views of Mr. Brunel on the subject. He held that the gauge which had already been adopted on the northern lines was amply sufficient for the public accommodation; that it was wide enough to admit of the most effective management of the machinery of the locomotive; that it was much safer to work over when the curves of the railway were at all sharp; that it was far more economical, taking into consideration the paying weight carried in proportion to the dead weight in the shape of rolling stock; that it would cost considerably less to maintain, in consequence of of the less weight to bear and smaller tear and wear of materials – not to mention the much smaller capital that was required to form a line upon the narrow gauge than upon the broad, the latter requiring more land, wider bridges and tunnels, broader embankments and viaducts, heavier rails, chairs, and sleepers, and more expensive engines and carriages. But his principal objection was, that, by forming the Great Western line on an exceptional gauge, the proprietors of the undertaking were virtually closing it against the public traffic from other parts of the kingdom, and rendering it a mere provincial railway or byway instead of a part of a great national system. He would not believe with Mr. Brunel that railways were to be confined to particular districts, but he held that, before long, they must become the universal highroad an well as byroads for both  goods and passengers;  and that any break in the continuity of the system by a difference of gauge would seriously detract from those great public advantages which their general adoption might reasonably be expected to confer. Mr. Stephenson said most emphatically, “It won’t do; it won’t pay: ” and circumstances have proved that he was far from being in the wrong.

However opinions may differ on the value of Mr. Brunel’s scheme with respect to the width of the gauge, they all agree in commending the general engineering works on the Great Western line. Some of the bridges are remarkable for their strength and beauty; among others may be mentioned those at Maidenhead and Chepstow, and especially the splendid construction just thrown across the Tamar.

Mr. Brunel took part in the floating end raising of the Britannia Tubular Bridge, and rendered the same friendly co-operation to Mr. Robert Stephenson in that gigantic undertaking as the latter gentleman did to Mr. Brunel in preparing the works to launch the Leviathan. Mr. Brunel has been engaged on many other works of importance. He has been employed to construct some of the most important docks on the English coast, and has conducted the engineering works of several foreign railways. The Charing-cross Suspension Bridge is a recent work of Mr. Brunel. It crosses the widest part of the Thames above London-bridge, and has the largest span in England. For lightness and elegance it is most deservedly admired.

Mr. Brunel has been F.R.S. since 1830, and member of the Council since 1844. He in Chevalier of the Legion of Honour; Vice-President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and of the Society of Arts; and is also a Fellow of the Astronomical, Geological, Geographical, and other learned Societies.

Our Portrait engraved from an admirable photograph taken by Mr. Mayall, and included in that gentleman’s interesting exhibition at the corner of Argyll-place, Regent-street.

engraving of Isambard Kingdom Brunel

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