7 November 202318:00 - 20:30
Online and at The Alan Baxter Gallery, 75 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EL
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Research into the history of structural engineering has focussed on the great structures of the past and their designers. The great achievements of medieval master builders and their vaults are followed by a chronological hiatus, with some interest in European bridge builders in masonry and timber, until the age of iron and the antecedents of twentieth century multi-storey structures, and the structures of the railway age.
The canal age, and its achievements tend to be overlooked. And yet 4800 km of canal were built in around 70 years in the British Isles, which attracted the interest of contemporaries at home and abroad, providing work for hundreds of navigators, and playing a key role in the establishment of civil engineering as a profession. It included the construction of the iconic iron structures like the Pont Cysyllte aqueduct, now a world heritage site, and major earthworks as seen on the Birmingham and Birmingham and Liverpool Junction canals.
Perhaps because the pace of construction was that much less, and many of the roving bridges appear mundane in their spans, little attention has been paid by engineering historians to the construction of canals despite the canal age featuring in most economic histories of the period.
This lecture will look at the achievement of the canal age, and how it provides some continuum between engineering practice of the medieval and early modern period and the widely recognised engineering achievements of the railway age
Gain new insights into the construction of Britain’s canal network
Have a better understanding of the historic use of plant and materials
The lecture is open to anyone and may be of particular interest to:
Engineers working on the conservation of older structures
Engineers involved in the maintenance of canal earthworks
Students with an interest in the history of the profession
Mike was for many years in charge of the Library and Archives of the Institution of Civil Engineers which stimulated his interest in the history of civil and structural engineering. He acted as secretary to the ICE’s Biographical dictionary of civil engineers of Great Britain and Ireland (3 vols 2002-2014) He has written and lectured on many aspects of the subject including Civil engineering -a photographic history (1991), The Civil engineering of canals and railways (1997), and with Hugh Ferguson: The Civil engineers (2011), The Contractors (2014), and The Consulting engineers (2020). Since his retirement in 2014 he has lectures at several History Group meetings, and UK and international construction history conferences.
Email - [email protected]
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