The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 57 (1979) > Issues > Issue 8 > Links in a Chain. The Development of Suspension Bridges 1801-70
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Links in a Chain. The Development of Suspension Bridges 1801-70

In dealing with the development of science and technology, historians are interested in identifying original idea5 or concepts and their subsequent diffusion and elaboration as well as in biographical information on famous scientists and engineers. From Samuel Smiles to L T. C. Rolt the biographical tradition has been a popular and powerful influence on the history of technology. This approach has tended to produce history on the heroic scale with little emphasis on the development and interchange of ideas or the continuity of technological change. On the other hand, an economic historian might well view certain aspects of the Industrial Revolution without more than a mention of those engineers responsible for particular technological developments. For example, one could view the history of the steam engine in terms of the number of units produced, their geographical distribution and resulting influence on the expansion of the factory system. This paper, however, is concerned with the ideas and leading engineers behind the development of the modern suspension bridge. E.L. Kemp