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From the year 1825, though marked by a rage for speculation almost insane, we must date the commencement of some of the grandest undertakings of which any nation can boast—undertakings which cannot fail to give a new character to all our political and social relations. Availing themselves of the prevailing mania, the iron-masters, whose trade, owing to the low price of iron, was in a state of extreme depression, encouraged the construction of railways in every direction. The most important of these schemes was a railway from Liverpool to London, through Birmingham ; and such was the alarm which this project occasioned among the canal proprietors, that they consulted Mr Telford' as to the most . advisable manner of protecting their property. Considering the proposed railway as intended principally for the transportation of goods, Mr Telford recommended the construction of the Birmingham and Liverpool junction Canal; as a work which would supply those facilities of conveyance, which the trade between London and Lancashire still seemed to require. It was accordingly executed under his direction, extending thirty-nine miles, independent of the Newport branch of eleven miles. As another means of counteracting the effects of the several rail'ways, which about this time were proposed to be made between
London and Birmingham,' Mr Telford recommended the extension of this canal from Wolverhampton to the Ellesmere and Chester Canal at Nantwich; but neither the one canal nor the other have obstructed the execution of that magnificent national undertaking which reflects honour on the age in wbich it was executed.*
One of the greatest and most useful works in which Mr Telford was engaged, was the drainage of the great Fen district, and especially of the Bedford Level, and the execution of the Nene Outfall. This last undertaking was carried on through the active patronage of the present Duke of Bedford-a nobleman whose liberality and patriotism will be long remembered by his country —under Mr Rennie, Mr Telford, and the present Sir John Rennie.
The great Fen district comprehends the low lands which lie on each side of the Wash, a bay which divides the counties of Nor
In speaking of the proposed railway from Liverpool through Birmingham to London, Mr Telford remarks, that all physical obstrue
tions were forgotten, or overlooked, amid the splendour of this gigantic ' undertaking. We, who have seen these obstructions surmounted, should learn to respect those grand conceptions which provide for the moral and physical wants of our species. When a railway shall carry our persons from London 10 Edinburgh in the fraction of a day, and a penny-post shall convey in the same brief period the products of our thoughts,' and the expressions of our affections, we may be disposed to extend a little more of our confidence to the speculations of ingenious minds.
folk and Lincoln, and is about sixty miles long, and twenty-five broad. The area of the Bedford Level exclusively, is about three hundred and fifty English square miles, or 340,000 English acres, which are the most productive in Britain. The Nene Outfall is a new tidal channel for discharging the waters of the river Nene into the sea. The Eaubrink Cut, which now forms the lower portion of the river Ouse, and the sluices on the South Level, were planned by the late Mr Rennie previous to Mr Telford's appointment; and this eminent engineer had the satisfaction of seeing the Cut successfully opened in July 1821, only a few months previous to his death. Sir Thomas Hyde Page and Mr Robert Mylne, the engineers under the Act of 1816-17, had differed about the dimensions of the Eaubrink Cut; and the difference was settled by Me Joseph Huddart, in the exact terms of whose arbitration the work was executed. Its capacity, however, was found too small for the river, and Mr Telford recommended that it should be enlarged one-third, which was accordingly executed at an expense of L.37,000. The present Sir John Rennie, who succeeded his father as engineer of drainage, was associated with Mr Telford in the execution of the Nene Outfall; but the new drainage of the North Level was executed by Mr Telford alone.
The contractors for deepening the Nene Outfall, commenced their operations in August 1827, and in a short time 1100 men were employed on the work, under the superintendence of William Swansborough.is
The expense of executing the Nene Outfall has been about L.200,000. About 1500 acres of fertile marsh land has been secured from the sea by embankment, and are now producing annually excellent crops of grain. An additional tract of about 2000 acres is fit for enclosing, and about 4000 acres more will soon be gained by the diversion of the channel from the ancient estuary. These valuable acquisitions, however, Mr Telford regarded as nothing, compared to the benefit derived from a natural drainage for the entire North Level, South Holland, and the contiguous districts.
The works for the drainage of the North Level were begun in July 1830, and finished in 1834; and Mr Tycho Wing informs us, that their effects upon the productiveness of the soil, and on the welfare and comfort of the inhabitants, surpass all previous expectation. This work,' he continues, ' was undertaken upon Mr Telford's advice and responsibility, when only a few of the persons engaged in the Nene Outfall believed that the latter could be made, and, is made, sustained. Mr Telford distin'guished himself then by his foresight and judicious counsels at the most critical periods of that great measure ; by his unfailing
confidence in its success, and by the boldness and sagacity which • prompted him to advise the making of the North Level drainage,
in full expectation of the results for the sake of which the Nene • Outfall was undertaken, and which are now realized to the • extent of the most sanguine hopes.'
Our author next proceeds to give an account of some of the most interesting improvements which he made upon harbours in the estuaries of rivers. The most important of these were the harbours of Aberdeen and Dundee.
Aberdeen, as a maritime city, may be ranked as the third in Scotland. In place of a population of 6500, to which it amounted in 1707, Aberdeen now contains 58,019 inbabitants. In 1773, the celebrated Mr Smeaton made important improvements on the harbour of this city. In order to make the land floods diminish the bar, he confined the irregular channel of the Dee by founding the north pier, which extends 700 feet eastward from highwater mark, and 500 feet further with a northern slant, in order to turn the current into a proper direction. Opposite to this pier, on the north side of the river, he constructed a breast-wall about half the length of the pier, and he added to these two short jetties and a small basin. As the commerce of this port increased, new improvements on its harbour were required. With this view, in 1797, Mr Rennie proposed to abandon the river, and to construct floating docks on the sandy flats called Foot Dee; but, in consequence of the distance of this locality from the mercantile establishments of the city, his plan was abandoned.
Although Mr Telsord had surveyed this harbour in 1801, yet it was not till 1810 that an Act was obtained for carrying his designs into execution. The most difficult part of the work which Mr Telford's plan required, was the extension of the north pier. This was done in 1811 to the extent of 300 feet, but the effect of this extension was so beneficial, that the trustees resolved to continue it; and in 1813 the extension of the pier, effected under Mr Telford's direction, measured 865 feet. The outside of this pier is composed of roughly dressed granite ashlar, with a core of large gneisse ruble stones. Owing to the great length of this pier, a corresponding extension of the south pier became necessary, and a solid breakwater, 800 feet long, constructed of large ruble stones, was accordingly made from the south shore, in a north-east direction, so as to leave a space of about 250 feet as an entrance. The cost of the north pier and breakwater was L.81,955; but the gain of a permanent depth of five or six feet in the harbour, has been an ample compensation for the expense. By dredging the inner harbour, at a cost of L.18,000, Mr Telford gained an additional depth of between three or four feet; so that the use of lighters has become unnecessary, and vessels of every description can get up to the quay. The other improvements of our author consisted in constructing a great extent of new wharfs; in forming a new channel for the river, constructing capstern towers and jetty, with a bulwark and embankments. These works, including a communication bridge of cast iron to the Inches, cost about L.61,000, the whole of the improvements amounting to L. 160,590. To these valuable works the trustees have added a building slip, according to the patent of Mr Thomas Morton of Leith, capable of receiving the largest class of steamers for the purpose of repair; and we are glad to find that another of these slips has been recently laid down.*
Improvements of nearly a similar extent were made by Mr Telford on the harbour of Dundee, a seaport on the Tay of great commercial activity, and now possessing a population of upwards of 60,000 souls. Previous to the commencement of the present century, the excellence of the roadstead, aided by a very imperfect wharfage on the shore, enabled her enterprising citizens to carry on a considerable trade. The growing prosperity of the city, however, rendered it necessary to have a considerable addition to its harbour accommodations. The harbour dues, which in 1765 produced only L. 126, amounted in 1800 to L. 1300 ; and though the corporation had, in ten years previous to 1815, collected and applied, promiscuously with the town revenue, no less than L,13,817, yet they had expended only L.1193 on the harbour and wharf. The landowners, however, and the agricultural capitalists of the rich and fertile district which lies in the vicinity of Dundee, began to feel an interest in its prosperity as a seaport, and, finding it vain to rouse the corporation to a sense of their duty, they succeeded in placing the exclusive management of the harbour in the hands of public commissioners.
* The conduct of the Dundee corporation,' says Mr Telford, 'forms a striking contrast with that of Aberdeen. The management of the port was
Mr Telford has given, in bis Appendix, the Report of the Select Com mittee of the House of Commons on Mr Morton's valuable invention, which the writer of this article bad repeated opportunities of examining from its earliest stage, till it was brought to its present perfect state. No fewer than fifty-four of these patent slips have been laid down at different ports, and licenses have been granted for the construction of several others. Notwithstanding the high encomiums which the Select Committee had passed on the value of this invention, they refused to grant an extension of the patent, but recommended a small parliamentary reward, which Mr Morton received.
VOL. LXX. NO. CXLI.
taken out of the hands of the former, because their views did not keep pace with the growing demands of commerce; whereas the latter have been exposed to obloquy and parliamentary persecutions for proceeding on too exiensive a scale of improvement.'
Under this more enlightened management, there was completed a floating-dock 750 feet long, and 9450 broad; having an entrance lock 170 feet long, 40 feet wide, and a graving-dock 265 feet long, 68 feet wide at top, and 40 at bottom; having 16 feet of water on the sill of the entrance lock at high water of ordinary spring tides. These works cos! L.119,865 and in November 1834, there was completed, at an expense of L. 12,000, a new wet-dock, called Earl Grey's Dock,' fitted to accommodate the splendid steam-packets which ply between Dundee and London. It is 55 feet wide, 210 seet long between the gates, with 19 feet depth of water on the sill at high water of spring tides, and 14 in ordinary neap tides.
Notwithstanding the unfavourable prediciion of the corporation, the effect of these improvements on the trade of Dundee exceeded the most sanguine expectations. The annual tonnage, which in 1800 was 63,000, was in 1831 189,326, and in 1837, 286,662. In 1830, the raw material of the linen trade imported into Dundee was 18,577 tons, and in 1837 it was 34,149; while in 1831 the coals imported were 271,431 bolls, and in 1837 529,061 bolls.
The increasing communication between Ireland and London had at various times directed the attention of the public to the necessity of making extensive improvements on the roads and harbours by which this communication was effected. Previous to 1815, the sailing packets which plied between Dublin and Holyhead were often tossed for several days in a stormy sea; and, when the passengers had completed their miserable voyage, they were landed upon rugged unprotected rocks, from whence they proceeded by iniserable tracts of road, composed of a succession of circuitous and craggy inequalities, for twenty-five miles, across the island of Anglesea to the Menai strait-a troublesome and dangerous tidal ferry, over which the mail and other coaches could not be passed in boisterous weather. After various ineffectual attempts to improve this untoward line, Sir Henry Parnell succeeded in having a Board of Parliamentary Commissioners appointed for this purpose ; and this Board chose Mi Telford for their engineer.
We shall not detain our readers by any account of the skillul and judicious improvements which Mr Telford made upon the roads and harbour's between Dublin and London, but shall pro