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created Oct 2nd 2022, 16:00 by elduke717



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Without attempting to be exhaustive, this little book aims at describing in a purely popular and non-technical manner some of the great achievements of engineers, more particularly during the nineteenth century.
The four departments chosen have been selected not in pursuance of any comprehensive plan, but because they present some of the more striking features of constructional effort. The term Engineering, however, includes the design and supervision of numerous works, such as roads and canals, docks and break-waters, machinery and mining, as well as steam-engines and steamships, bridges and tunnels.
Information, in certain cases, has been gained at first-hand, and I have to acknowledge the courtesy of the managers of the Cunard and White Star Steamship Companies, Messrs. Maudslay, Sons & Field, and others, in supplying various particulars.
The narrative concerning Henry Bell and the steamship Comet, and of his connection with Fulton, is chiefly [vi] based on a letter from Bell himself in the Caledonian Mercury in 1816.
The statement that Mr. Macgregor Laird was so largely instrumental in founding the British and American Steam Navigation Company is made on the authority of his daughter, Miss Eleanor Bristow Laird. An article on “The Genesis of the Steamship,” which I wrote in the Gentleman’s Magazine, brought a letter from that lady in which she declares that her father was the prime mover in founding the Company. He had had experience, in the Niger Expedition of 1832-33, of the behaviour of steamships both at sea and in the river, and from the date of his return to England she asserts he advocated the establishment of steam communication between England and America, against the active opposition of Dr. Lardner and others. “Macgregor Laird’s claim to the foremost place amongst all those (not excepting Brunel) who worked for the same object,” writes Miss Laird, “was clearly shown in a letter from the late Mr. Archibald Hamilton of 17 St. Helen’s Place, E.C., to the editor of the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, in which paper it was published on 15th May, 1873.”
It is not a little curious to note how, in many of these great undertakings, several minds seem to have been working to the same end at about the same time. It was so with George Stephenson and others with regard to the locomotive, with Miller and Symington, Bell and Fulton, with regard to the steamship, with Laird and Brunel as regards transatlantic steam navigation, with Robert Stephenson and William Fairbairn as regards the tubular bridge.
This volume does not seek to be the special advocate of any, or to enter into any minute details, but simply endeavours to gather up the more salient features and weave them into a connected and popular narrative.

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