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Some Reminiscences - IV

Among other work with Armstrong’s firm was the connection of the hydraulic pressure mains between the East India Docks and the West India Docks. The connection was to be made along the Blackwall Railway, but a difficulty occurred in passing Poplar Station which threatened to stop the work altogether, and it was not until a happy thought occurred to me that we got permission. I suggested that we should carry the pipes along the back of the platform and cover them with a continuous seat for the passengers, which was done. The firm erected a small hand-power swing bridge over the canal in Woolwich Arsenal, on cast-iron screw pile cylinders sunk in the bed. After it was completed it was desired to put in diagonal braces between the piles, but this could only be done when the water was drawn down in the canal to its lowest level. This was arranged for one Sunday, and I undertook to see it carried out. It was in the depth of winter, the canal was covered with ice and there was a strong north wind blowing right up the canal. On my arrival the men had got a raft upon which to work to remove a flange bolt from each pile, but the joint was some six inches below the water level and the bolt had to be driven upwards. They tried it for some time, but the bolt held firm, and they struck work, saying it was too cold. It wasas determined it should be done if possible, so I took off my coat and laid down on the raft with the water spurting up between the joints and freezing on the top. I got the bolt started, and the men thus encouraged completed the removal. We then found the tie-rods as sent from Newcastle were too long, so that the next step was to send out into the town and find a smith to come in, cut and re-weld them. This was done for a reasonable payment and the work was completed the same afternoon. It was a chilly experience, but I had another sort some years later on, to counterbalance it. This was the examination of the reinforced concrete foundations under some electric furnaces in Scotland, also in the depth of winter. The outside temperature was 26 deg. Fahr., but in the vaults under the furnaces where I stayed for twenty minutes taking measurements and making sketches, the temperature was 176 deg. Fahr., only a rise of 150 degrees! Professor Henry Adams When hydraulic wagon lifts were first used to pass