Tag: 1860

Criticism of the Great Eastern steamship

From the Pioneer and Democrat, January 6, 1860

The leviathan steamship “Great Eastern” is certainly in a bad way. Her history from the outset has been only a series of misfortunes, financial and mechanical, till now several of those who originally embarked in the enterprise have been reduced to bankruptcy, and Brunel and Stevenson, her chief designers, passed have away. The ship herself appears to have demonstrated nothing, or in any degree served to promote nautical science. “Vaulting ambition has o’erleaped itself,” but the result is an occasion only for regret. A Liverpool contemporary suggests that American capitalists should finish the job—a proposition which is not likely to meet with prompt acceptance. The Great Eastern and Atlantic cable are the two huge failures of the century.


Source: The weekly pioneer and Democrat. [volume] (Saint Paul, Minn. Territory), 06 Jan. 1860. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016751/1860-01-06/ed-1/seq-1/>

Obituary of Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Vol. 19, 1860

MR. ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL was the only Son of the late Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, whose mechanical genius and originality of conception he largely inherited. Young Brunel was born at Portsmouth, in the year 1806, at the period when his Father was engaged on the block machinery for the Royal Dockyard. He received his general education at the College Henri Quatre, at Caen, where, at that time, the mathematical masters were particularly celebrated, and to his acquirements in that science may be attributed the early successes he achieved, as well as the confidence in his own resources which he displayed throughout his professional career. On his return to England, he was, for a time, practically engaged in mechanical engineering, at the works of the late Mr. Bryan Donkin, and at the age of about twenty, he joined his Father int he construction of the Thames Tunnel, where he attained considerable experience in brickwork and the use of cements, and more especially, in meeting and providing for the numerous casualties to which that work was exposed. The practical lessons there learned were in valuable to him; and to his personal gallantry and presence of mind, on more than one occasion, when the river made irruptions into the Tunnel, the salvation of the work was due. One of his first great independent designs was that selected for the proposed suspension-bridge across the River Avon, from Durdham Down, Clifton, to the Leigh Woods, which he owed to the fact, that upon the reference of the competing designs to two distinguished mathematicians for the verification of the calculations, his alone was pronounced to be mathematically exact. Want of funds prevented, at that period, the carrying out of the design, which there are now some hopes of seeing executed, by transplanting to that site the present Hungerford Suspension-bridge, which is itself the work of Mr. Brunel.

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