The Eighth Wonder of the World.
There have been many claimants for the title of “ The Eighth Wonder of the World,” but it may be doubted if any woik ever had a right to it equal to that of the great bridge which is now nearing its completion on the Frith of Forth at Queensferry. When the Shah, who is to visit it, sees this giant structure, he will naturally exclaim “ Mashallah ! ” or “ Allah Akban ! ” but he ought in this case to say “ Sir John Fowler Akbar,” for he is the great engineer who has, along with Mr Benjamin Baker, created this marvel among the engineering works of our time. The American engineers visited the bridge recently, and they all frankly acknowledged that this work was not only unique of its kind, but that it “licked all creation ” in the matter of bridges. I doubt if anyone coming to Queensferry, if they had to guess the height, or any of the dimensions of this structure, woqld venture to risk such numbers pf feet as it really has in its proportions, This is generally the case with structures of great magnitude. It takes time to realise size, which ultimately reaches the mind by comparison, On coming here the other day I noticed what seemed to be a small mamof-wap lying Jt the Firth near the bridge, but she seemed no bigger than a penny boat on the Thames. My surprise was great on learning that it was H.M.S. Devastation; and I began to understand how this powerful ironclad was dwarfed into littleness by the towering mass of ironwork above her. By taking a stroll along the shore we got another Impression of magnitude. As W e leave Queensferry behind, the houses, from the laws of perspective, become small, hut the three_ great can: filevers do not seem to diminish in the least, If you walk far enough, so that Queensferry has entirely disappeared, ycu find the vast masses of iron apparently standing up in the sky as high as ever, St. Paul’s dome, as well as St. Peter’s in Rome, are also good instances of this mode pf testing great altitude. You have to see St, Paul’s frpm Hampstead Heath to get a proper idea of its height above the roofs of the London houses. The Eiffel Tower is at present enjoying a distinguished celebrity from its great height, and die mass of work it represents; hence a very slight comparison with it may convey some idea of the Forth Bridge. One of the cantilevers hero with its con, neoting girders, if these were set up lengthways on end, would be very nearly the same height as the Paris tower, with this difference, that the cantilever has twice the amount of metal in it that the other has. The last detail also implies twice the amount of labor in the construction. Now, there are three cantilevers in the Forth Bridge. If these were all added together with the girders, and put up on end, the whole would be three times higher than the Eiffel Tower. This is still far from conveying the full difference between the two structures, either as to size, strength, or quality of workmanship. The following figures will give gome idea on these heads t The Eiffel Tower contains only 7iffoo tons of ipn, vyhile the Forth Bridge, when finished, will have absorbed over 50,000 tons of the finest steel that could be procured. These figures speak for themselves, and the difference in the metal tells its own tale. The Forth Bridge was begun in 1883, and will have takenabout seven years to complete, while the tower in Paris was run up in about as many months. It will be seen from this that the one is a mere mushroom in companion to the giant growth of the other, The bridge proper is just over a mile in length, but there are viaducts on each end ponpectjng it with the high ground, and these together add half a mile more to the length of the w° rk - The Tay Bridge is about two miles along, but it hqs not the height nor the vast proportions of this at Queensferry. This one had to give height, so that the largest vessel oould pass under, and the space below the span for this purpose is 150 ft. To attain this height and yet to have the necessary strength, the cantilevers tower high above, and they required an elevation as high as St. Paul’s. Let anyone take the map of London and measure a mile along one of the main thoroughfares, and he will begin to realise the space bridged over by the three great cantilevers. There are two wide spans and two half spans. The large spans are each 1,710 ft wide, this being about the distance along Regent street from the Oxford circus to the beginning of the Quad- j rant. It is the throwing of a connection—it might be called an arch, but, although
the shape justifies the term, the principle of constrnction Cpes not—across this extended space that constitutes the mark of distinction in the engineering work. The tubular bridge at the hfepai Straits, which was the wonder of its daJ N does not reach over much more than a fourth of the distance we have here between the supports. The word “ cantilever \ is a technical term meaning a particular kind of bracket, and the arch form is here produced by means of two gigantic brackets Which stretch out to what would be the kevgtone of the arch. Ihese brackets do not nset—a space of 330 ft is left between—but tray are sufficiently strong to support gird£ a , by means of which the two ends will connected and the roadway carried along. YThe cantilevers are now all but finished. TW stand and seem to bo stretching out then arms on both sides, as if wishing to shake, hands with each other, and the 350 ft of sptee which is yet left between seems very stall. The girders for this are being prepaled in the workshops, and it is expected that they will be very rapidly added to the «to r k, and that the whole bridge will be finished by October, <- I have had the satisfaction of asdinding to the summit of the central cantilever,with Mr Cooper, the chief resident engineer. We went up in a lift, but the lift inthia case is not the least like those in Lonlon hotels. There is no enclosed shaft, and you feel as if you were in a balloon. The cage is pulled up by an iron rope, which seemed like a thread in the air as I looked upwards and traced it to the top, a distance of 360ft,\| which we were about to mount up to. By means of these lifts the men are taken up and down to their work, so there are a number of them at various parts of the bridge. From the summit we could look perpendicularly down to the water below, where we had a perfect bird’s eye view of everything. The Devastation looked a very small affair, and the officer of the watch appeared only as a dark speck as he paced up and dowu the deck. We had a fine view up and down the Firth. Towards the west we had a glimpse of Linlithgow Palace ; and Dunfermline, where the King sat drinking the “ bluid-red wine,” appeared to be not far distant. Looking down the Firth, Garton and Leith could be seen, but Edinburgh is hid by the high grounds of Dalmeny, Lord Rosebery’s residence—the top of Arthur’s Seat only being visible. At another part of the bridge I saw the rivetting machine at work. This is worked by hydraulic power, and it finishes off a rivet in a few seconds, without the usual deafening sound of the hammering which is required by the ordinary process. I The greater part of the rivetting here has been done by this machine. At another place I was shown where a man lately fell a j distance of 150ft—from the level of what will be the roadway, to a platform on the ! level of the piers—a fearful looking distance it appeared as I looked down at the very spot. Death was, of course, instantaneous. Such a work as this has cost a good deal of life, for the men get careless, and they are not all wearers of the blue ribbon—the man just mentioned might have been living yet if he had worn that talisman. The number of accidents has been exaggerated by public rumor, but they have not been more numer rous than might be expected. ‘ Daily News.’
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The Eighth Wonder of the World., Evening Star, Issue 8024, 28 September 1889, Supplement
The Eighth Wonder of the World. Evening Star, Issue 8024, 28 September 1889, Supplement
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