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Subject: ‘Engineering’

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London’s underground

Posted in Engineering, Historical articles, History, London, Railways, Transport, Travel on Sunday, 31 January 2016

This edited article about the London Underground Railway originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 944 published on 23 February 1980.

underground, picture, image, illustration

Whole streets were closed and excavated during the building of the London underground railway. Picture by Harry Green

“I do not understand why men should wish to build a road down into Hell to meet the Devil,” roared the vicar to his congregation. “My friends, mark my words well. The advent of this railway will hasten the end of the world.”

The vicar, Dr. Cummings, was not alone in his distaste for the form of transport that was being advocated. Many churchmen feared God would wreak his vengeance on the human moles involved in this work of the Devil. Property-owners thought their buildings would fall as a result of all the excavations taking place. In fact, some of these fears may not have been groundless, for many buildings had to be shored up with timber while the work was in progress.

Anyone visiting London during 1861 could well see the reason for people’s concern. In the vicinity of King’s Cross, gangs of workmen were furiously digging up the streets. Great yawning holes marked where the road had once been, leaving only a small area over which carriages and pedestrians had to make their way as best they could.

Some parts of the road were closed completely to allow the men to dig their holes. Once the holes were completed, with the mud piles high on either side, much to the annoyance of pedestrians, the men started shoring the sides of the hole. Then the upper part of the holes was enclosed in a brick arch. Once this was completed, the earth was replaced over the work, the surplus earth carted away, and the road relaid so that everything looked as it had before. But there was one main difference. Eighteen metres below the new road surface lay a long tunnel that stretched between Paddington and Farringdon Street, a distance of about six kilometres.

The person chiefly responsible for this undertaking was Charles Pearson, a city solicitor. Since 1843, he had been suggesting that London should have an underground railway system. He suggested that a trial section should be constructed along the valley of the River Fleet, which had been arched over and converted into a sewer. It would use trains powered by atmospheric pressure. In spite of Pearson’s pleas the plan was never followed up, but he continued to campaign for this new form of transport.

The idea was not, however, entirely new; for what can possibly be regarded as the first underground railway was started in 1770 at East Kenton Colliery near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The railway, used to carry coal trucks on simple wooden tracks, consisted of a single tunnel, which can lay claim to being the first railway tunnel.

Eventually people began to listen to Pearson’s ideas and in 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition in London, when British pride in its engineering feats was at its height, a committee was set up to examine Pearson’s suggestion.

It was decided that the project was feasible, Parliament approved the idea, and work began on raising the money required to put the project in hand. In March, 1860, Pearson saw the results of his incessant campaigning as work began on the new underground railway.

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The best pictures from educational trade cards, 110

Posted in America, Architecture, Art, Best pictures, Educational card, Engineering, Famous Inventors, Historical articles, History, Inventions, Railways, Revolution, Transport, Travel on Thursday, 26 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from our large collection of 19th and early 20th century educational trade cards.
The first picture shows the Colossus of Nero, by the Sculptor Zenodore, 66 AD.

Nero, picture, image, illustration

The Colossus of Nero, by the Sculptor Zenodore, 66 AD

The second picture shows George Stephenson’s locomotive Rocket, 1830.

Rocket, picture, image, illustration

George Stephenson's locomotive Rocket, 1830

The third picture shows the Philippine Revolution and its leader.

Philippines, picture, image, illustration

Emilio Aguinaldo, Filipino revolutionary leader and politician

High-resolution scans of all educational cards can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures from educational trade cards, 15

Posted in America, Ancient History, Best pictures, Boats, Dance, Educational card, Engineering, Famous battles, Famous landmarks, Historical articles, History, Inventions, Leisure, Music, Rivers, Transport, Travel, War, Weapons on Monday, 23 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from our large collection of 19th and early 20th century educational trade cards.
The first picture shows Brutus throwing himself upon his own sword after the Battle of Philippi.

Philippi, picture, image, illustration

Brutus throwing himself upon his own sword after the Battle of Philippi

The second picture shows illuminations and dance on the Hudson River, New York.

New York, picture, image, illustration

Illuminations and dance on the Hudson River, New York

The third picture shows the Galerie des Machines at the Paris Exposition, 1889.

Paris, , picture, image, illustration

Galerie des Machines

High-resolution scans of all educational cards can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures from educational trade cards, 12

Posted in Ancient History, Best pictures, Disasters, Educational card, Engineering, Historical articles, History, Myth, Railways, Superstition, Transport, Travel on Monday, 23 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from our large collection of 19th and early 20th century educational trade cards.
The first picture shows the opening of the first French railway, 1832.

 railway, picture, image, illustration

Opening of the first French railway, 1832

The second picture shows the earthquake at Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, 1843.

earthquake, picture, image, illustration

Earthquake at Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, 1843

The third picture shows the Oracle of Delphi.

Delphi, picture, image, illustration

Consulting the Oracle of Delphi

High-resolution scans of all educational cards can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures from educational trade cards, 6

Posted in Best pictures, Communications, Educational card, Engineering, Geography, Geology, Historical articles, History, Industry, Plants, Trade, Transport, Travel on Monday, 23 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from our large collection of 19th and early 20th century educational trade cards.
The first picture shows rock drilling work in the Culebra Cut, Panama Canal.

Panama, picture, image, illustration

Rock drilling work in the Culebra Cut, Panama Canal

The second picture shows the English postal service.

mail coach, picture, image, illustration

English postal service

The third picture shows a Cocoa processing plant.

cocoa, picture, image, illustration

Cocoa processing plant

High-resolution scans of all educational cards can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

The Flying Scotsman

Posted in Engineering, Historical articles, History, London, Railways, Scotland, Transport, Travel on Sunday, 22 November 2015

From the great age of steam comes this superb painting of the Flying Scotsman locomotive, in which peerless draughtsmanship and a thorough knowledge of engineering combine to present an utterly compelling picture of power, beauty and speed. The LNER bottle green livery still captivates the viewer, and it remains a unique icon in both appearance and romantic name.

The Flying Scotsman, picture, image, illustration

The Flying Scotsman by John S Smith

Many more pictures of railways can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Building a motorway in 1960s England

Posted in Britain in the 60s, British Countryside, British Towns, Cars, Engineering, Historical articles, History, Transport, Travel on Saturday, 21 November 2015

Here is a superb panoramic picture of one of the great infrastructure projects of the 1960s, namely the building of motorways. These astonishing feats of civil engineering can be appreciated when viewed from above as in this image, which reveals the vast scale of the earth works along with the vehicles and many workers involved. The helicopter completes a picture of modernisation and progress, as does the already completed section cutting through the beautiful English countryside.

motorway, picture, image, illustration

Building a motorway in 1960s England by Wilf Hardy

Many more pictures of Britain in the 1960s can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Alcock and Brown, first men to fly the Atlantic

Posted in Adventure, Aerospace, America, Aviation, Bravery, Engineering, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, News, Sea, Transport, Travel on Friday, 20 November 2015

Aviation pioneers Alcock and Brown were the first men to fly the Atlantic non-stop, and in doing so claimed the Daily Mail Prize of £10,000 which Lord Northcliffe had put up for a successful challenge. They flew a modified Vickers Vimy bomber which looks like a dangerously rudimentary aircraft in our exciting picture, especially so as the ocean waves seem to reach to its very vulnerable undercarriage.

aircraft, picture, image, illustration

Alcock and Brown, first men to fly the Atlantic by Neville Dear

Many more pictures of aviation can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

The London-Brighton run

Posted in Cars, Engineering, Historical articles, History, London, Transport, Travel on Thursday, 19 November 2015

The beautifully drawn star of this 1960s London-to-Brighton run is a 1900 MMC 6-hp “Charette” Rear-entrance Tonneau, a superb veteran car which dates from around 1900 and would have originally cost in the region of £400. Some of the cars which took part in the original rally are still in running order, over sixty years after the event.

rally, picture, image, illustration

The London-Brighton run

Many more pictures of cars can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures from ‘The Illustrated Times’, 100

Posted in Art, Best pictures, Engineering, Historical articles, History, Industry, London, Rivers, Sea, Ships, The Illustrated Times, Trade, Transport, Travel, War on Wednesday, 18 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from ‘The Illustrated Times’, a nineteenth-century illustrated newspaper and rich source of remarkable engravings.
The first picture shows a column of French refugees, peasants fleeing war and seeking refuge in Paris.

peasants, picture, image, illustration

The late Stampede of Peasants into Paris by D H Friston

The second picture shows The Leviathan and the Cradles.

Leviathan, picture, image, illustration

The Leviathan, the Cradles

The third picture shows a Sale of Objects of Virtu in Paris.

saleroom, picture, image, illustration

Sale of Objects of Virtu in Paris by Gustave Dore

High-resolution scans of all the illustrations from ‘The Illustrated Times’ (London 1855-1866) can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.