The Civil Engineering of Canals and Railways Before 1850: Studies in the History of Civil Engineering

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Editorial Reviews

A collection of key contributions to the field of history of civil engineering, originally published from the 1950s to the 1990s. Papers focus on the construction of transport systems which revolutionized communications in America and Europe, especially Britain, from 1600 to 1850. Work encompasses the design and execution of canals, artificial waterways, and railways, and the professional work of civil engineers, including preparatory work, design and construction of earthworks, contract organization and management, navigation devices, and the development of rail technology. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

General Editor's Preface
Pt. 1 Canals
1 Canals and river navigations before 1750 1
2 The Waltham pound lock 35
3 Rivers and canals 49
4 The construction of the Huddersfield narrow canal, 1794-1811: with particular reference to Standedge tunnel 81
5 John Pinkerton and the Birmingham canals 103
6 Managerial organization on the Caledonian canal, 1803-1822 121
7 Along the water: the genius and the theory. D'Alembert, Condorcet and Bossut and the Picardy canal controversy 143
8 Poverty, distress and disease: labour and the construction of the Rideau canal, 1826-1832 177
9 Hugh McIntosh (1768-1840), national contractor 201
Pt. 2 Railways
10 Some railway facts and fallacies 219
11 The influence of landowners on route selection 239
12 England's first rails: a reconsideration 247
13 The Butterley Company and railway construction, 1790-1830 263
14 Cast iron edge-rails at Walker Colliery, 1798 287
15 Embankments and cuttings on the early railways 291
16 The railway navvy: a reassessment 309
17 Railway contractors and the finance of railway development in Britain 321
18 The origin of American railroad technology, 1825-1840 339
19 Tracks and timber 353
Index 365
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This volume is concerned with the civil engineering of canals and railways, more specifically the construction of transport systems which revolutionized communications in Europe and North America c.1600—1850, a revolution largely achieved by the use of manual labour. The significance of these civil engineering works can scarcely be understated. Robert Stephenson, Writing in January 1865, described them graphically thus,
At the end of 1854. the aggregate length of railways opened in Great Britain and Ireland—measured about 8,054 miles—about the diameter of the globe…It will naturally be asked what amount of capital has been required for the construction of these vast works…£286,000,000 has absolutely been raised…It is more than four times the amount of the annual value of all the real property of Great Britain…If you consider the extent of the earthworks… they will measure 550,000,000 cubic yards… Imagine a mountain half a mile in diameter at its base, and soaring into the clouds one mile and a half in height — that would be the size of the mountain of earth which these earthworks would form.

By 1850 the British achievement was by no means unique.
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