Page images

took the subject of the Great Exhibition under his own personal superintendence.
To Mr. Scott Russell must therefore be awarded the merit of having been one of
the three originators of the Exhibition of 1851. He was one of the two Secretaries
to the Royal Commission originally named by Her Majesty in the commission
issued Jan. 3, 1850; and he had, during the previous six months, planned and
organized the preliminary arrangements. It is interesting to trace the precise
share which Mr. Scott Russell had in this great industrial display; for there is
a kindred -a sort of family tie between the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the
Great Eastern Steam-ship of 1858.

Of the energy and ability of Mr. Scott Russell as a labourer in the great field
of mechanical science during the last quarter of a century, the reader may satisfy
himself by glancing through the series of Arcana of Science and Year-Book of
Facts for that period. He combines the advantages of a mind well stored with
facts, and great power of reasoning and conviction, with urbane and gentle.
manly manner. Mr. Scott Russell married, in 1837, Harriette, second daughter
of Sir Daniel Toler Osborne, Bart., and of the Lady Harriette, daughter of the
tirst Earl of Clancarty.

The accompanying portrait has been ably engraved by Mote, from a photo-
graph by Mayall and Son, Regent-street.

We shall next describe the most colossal and important undertaking in which
Mr. Scott Russell has been hitherto engaged, and which has established his fame
as the most advanced shipbuilder of the day-namely, the steam-ship Leviathan.

* See the Account of the Great Exhibition in the Extra Year-Book of Facts,
1851, by the Editor of the present volume.

[blocks in formation]






Mechanical and Useful Arts.

THE LEVIATHAN” STEAM-SHIP. • The origin and mechanical structure of this stupendous ship can. not be better described than in the paper read to the Mechanical Section of the British Association* by her builder, Mr. John Scott Russell, who said :

He was not, as was generally supposed, an advocate for large ships, but the contrary; and it was the peculiarity of the Great Easternt that she was the smallest ship that could be built capable of doing the work which she was intended to perform. It had been found that a steam-ship could not be profitably worked which was of a less size than a ton to a mile of the voyage she was to perform, carrying her own coal. The voyage to Australia and back was 25,000 miles. The burthen of the Great Eastern, according to this principle, ought to be 25,000 tons, whereas her actual tonnage was only 22,000. Mr. Brunel first started the idea of building a vessel capable of performing the voyage to India or Australia and back, and the result of his suggestion was the great ship now fast approaching completion,

Mr. Russell then stated that the Great Eastern, as far as her lines were cons cerned, was a child of the Mechanical Section of the British Association. It was formed on the Wave principle, which, at the former meeting of the Association in Dublin, twenty-two years ago, he had first propounded, which, after a careful investigation by a Committee of the Association, had been found to be the right principle, and was now universally adopted. When a vessel was about to be built, intended to attain a certain speed, from ten miles an hour upwards, reference to the table of the wave principle informed them of the length which the bows and stern must be, and of the peculiarity of construction necessary in order to procure the desired result. According to this principle it was necessary, in order to acquire the speed which this vessel was to attain, that the length of her bow should be 330, the length of her stern 250, of the midship 120, which with 10 feet for the screw-propeller, gave an entire length of 680 feet. He showed that, while increasing the carrying or paying power of the ship to an immense extent, its mode of construction was such that the increase in the resistance of the water was in a much lower ratio, so that the vessel, notwithstanding its enormous size, could be worked as economically as a smaller one.

He next entered into a detailed description of the various improvements which he had introduced into the building of iron vessels, which were at first constructed in close imitation of the model of wooden ships with cumbrous timber frames, which gave no strength, but entailed great expense. He could not always build ships upon the improved principles, because owners insisted on having them made in the old-fashioned way. All improvements, which Mr. Scott Russell detailed at great length, were introduced into the Great Eastern, together with the cellular system, which had been so successfully applied in the construction of the Britannia Bridge, and which presented the greatest amount of strength that could possibly be procured against any crushing or resistance

* At the Annual Meeting held in Dublin, in August and September, 1857. + Subsequently the name of the ship was changed to the Leviathan.

she might accidentally encounter. In fact, there was nothing new in the structure of this ship, save the cellular system, as the principles applied in her construction had been repeatedly tested and fully established as those which should be adopted in the building of iron ships, so that the Great Eastern presented the combined result of sound science and the best practical experience. Mr. Russell concluded by stating, that the vessel would be propelled by a screw and two paddles, giving her a nominal horse-power of 2500. He wished he could tell them the speed at which the Great Eastern would go, but this secret for the present was only for the owners.

Mr. Fairbairn expressed his approval of the principle on which the vessel had been constructed ; and he believed that it would be successful, and realize all the expectations that had been formed of it. *

In the spring of last year, the great ship had so far approached completion as to be exhibited to the public; and it was upon the occasion of Mr. Scott Russell's name being mentioned in the Times exclusively in connexion with the ship, that he addressed a letter to the above journal, in which, with an honourable regard to the rights of others who have largely shared in the merits or responsibilities of the undertaking, Mr. Russell communicated the following facts :

“My share of the merit and responsibility is that of builder of the ship for the Eastern Steam Navigation Company. I designed her lines and constructed the iron hull of the ship, and am responsible for her merits or defects as a piece of naval architecture. I am equally responsible for the paddle-wheel engines of 1000 horse-power, by which she is to be propelled.

“But Messrs. James Watt and Co., the eminent engineers of Soho, have the entire merit of the design and construction of the engines of 1500 horse-power which are to propel the screw.

“ It is, however, to the Company's engineer, Mr. I. K. Brunel, that the original conception is due of building a steam-ship large enough to carry coals sulticient for full steaming on the longest voyage. He, at the outset, and long before it had assumed a mercantile form, communicated his views to me, and I have participated in the contrivance of the best means to carry them into practical effect. I think, further, that the idea of using two sets of engines and two propellers is original, and was his invention. It was his idea also to introduce a cellular construction like that at the top and bottom of the Britannia-bridge into the construction of the great ship: It will be seen that these are the main characteristics which distinguish this from other ships, and these are Mr. Brunel's. Her lines and her structure in other respects are identical with those of my other ships, which are constructed like this on a principle of my own, which I have systematically carried out during the last twenty years, and which is commonly called the 'wave' principle. In other respects, also, her materials are put together in the manner usual in my other ships.

I think, too, there are others whose names and services in this matter the public should not forget whenever the great ship is mentioned. The mercantile difficulty appeared at the outset--and this has proved itself since-to be quite as great as the mechanical difficulty of the undertaking. So unusual an enterprise could not have been carried out without ability, enterprise, and prudence, to the credit of which the board of directors, represented by their chairman, Mr. H. T. Hope, and their secretary, Mr. John Yates, are entitled in a high degree. And there was one of them who bore the burden and heat of the day, and at the outset of this undertaking

was one of its most able and zealous supporters, the late Mr. Charles Geach. I think I am justified in saying that without him it would never, as a mercantile speculation, have been undertaken by many of those

* A notice of the ship, communicated by Mr. Scott Russell to the British Association, in 1834, will be found in the Year-Book of Facts, 1855, pp. 60–62; and a previous notice at pp. 37 and 38 of the same Year-Book,

who have undertaken it ; that on his aid and exertions many of us probably, and certainly myself, relied mainly for the successful issue of the undertaking, and that his untimely death materially increased the difficulties of that undertaking, both to the directors and to the constructor of the ship. Let not, therefore, his share of any merit that may belong to the undertaking be forgotten.

“In conclusion, permit me to add that my share of the merit and responsibility ends with the construction of the hull and of the paddle-wheel engines, which have now (April) been nearly completed by my assistants, Mr. Dickson and Mr. Hepworth. The launching of the ship, the rigging and masting of the ship, her cabins and her outfit, are not mine, but are executed entirely under Mr. Brunel, Captain Harrison, and the other officers of the Company."

The Leviathan is of nearly five times the tonnage of the largest ship hitherto built in the world; and is capable of stowing at one time sufficient fuel to carry her round the world, and thus avoid the necessity of stopping at the intermediate stations usually resorted to by steam-propelled vessels making long voyages, where the high price of coals, and the delay attending their shipment, have hitherto been found to be the great drawbacks on making colonial steam-ships remunerative to their owners. The building of the vessel was commenced on May 1, 1854, * at Millwall, from lines laid down by Mr. Scott Russell, and was so far completed as to be prepared for launching by November, 1857.

The following are the relative dimensions of the Leviathan and large steam-ships :

Length Breadth. Great Western, 1838 (first Atlantic steamer)


36 Great Britain, 1844 (first ocean screw-steamer)


Himalaya, 1853 (largest screw-steamer)

Persia, 1856 (largest paddle-steamer)
Duke of Wellington, 1855 (largest war-steamer) 240

Leviathan, 1858 The hull of the Leviathan is built entirely of iron, and is 692 feet in length over all ; 680 feet between the perpendiculars; 83 feet beam, and 58 feet depth of hold. She is divided transversely into ten separate compartments of 60 feet each, rendered perfectly watertight by bulkheads, having no opening whatever lower than the second deck, whilst two longitudinal walls of iron, 36 feet apart, traverse 350 feet of the length of the ship. She has no external keel : the true keelson, an iron plate 2 feet wide, and 1 inch thick,

* In the Builder of this year a comparison made between the big ship and the houses in Tavistock-square first gave the general public any notion of its enormous size and capacity. It consists of more than 10,000 plates put together with 3,000,000 of rivets. The decks and iron walls form it into about 80 enormous boxes. According to a published statement, its four paddle-engines are to give a nominal force of 5000 horse-power, and the screw-propeller of 6500 -11,500 horse-power in the whole! The engines, when in full work, will swallow up 250 tons of coal each day; yet the cellar is large enough to hold a supply for a voyage to Australia and back! Why, the iron shaft to connect the propeller with the engine is three times as long as a good ten-roomed house is highnamely, 160 feet

and each wheel is 56 feet in diameter. Just imagine this enormous work, the conception of Brunel and the production of Scott Russell, completely fitted up with every necessary of life, and dashing across the ocean with 4400 human beings on board, at a continuous speed and with an ease never before attained (and this it is confidently anticipated will be the case), and you will have before you the most extraordinary result of engineering science and constructive skill that the world has yet seen.


44 45 60 83


runs the entire length from stem to stern, and from it the frame of the ship is raised. The bottom and sides, ascending from this, are made of plates three-quarters of an inch thick, and 2 feet 10 inches space intervenes between the outer and the inner skin of the ship, which is carried throughout her to the height of her deepest water-line, and is made of plates of similar thickness to those used in the outer hull. Between this double skin, at intervals of 6 feet, run horizontal webs of iron plates, which materially increase the powers of resistance of the inner and outer walls of the ship, and giving, in, the event of the outer skin being pierced, additional safety to the vessel. Again, should the ship require ballast at any time, 2500 tons of water can be admitted into the spaces before mentioned. Besides the principal bulkheads, there are in each compartment second intermediate bulkheads, forming coal bunkers, which can, on an emergency, be closed. There are no openings under the deep water-line, through the principal bulkheads, except two continuous tunnels, through one of which the steam-pipes pass, so constructed as to remain closed, the opening of them being the exception. The floor of the ship is perfectly flat, the top of the keelson being rivetted to the skin of the inner vessel ; the upper deck is similar in construction to the lower part, cellular, and fornied of half-inch iron plates, which run the entire length of the ship; this deck runs flush and clear from stem to stern, for a breadth of about 20 feet on either side, affording magnificent promenades for the passengers, the circuit of this part of the ship being upwards of a quarter of a mile. This deck is planned to be of such strength, that, if supported on its extremities, it would sustain the entire weight of the ship. Upwards of ten thousand tons of iron plates have been used in the construction of the hull, and 3,000,000 rivets in securing them together.

As before mentioned, the Leviathan will be propelled by both paddles and screw. The paddle-engines have been manufactured by Messrs. Scott Russell and Co., and are of the nominal power of 1000 horses : they consist of 4 oscillating cylinders of 74 inches diameter of bore, 14 feet stroke, and each weighing 28 tons. Their motive power is supplied by 4 boilers, each having 10 furnaces ; both engines and boilers are made on the disconnecting principle, and can be used jointly or separately. The paddle-wheels are 58 feet in diameter, with 13 feet floats, which is considerably wider than the circus at Astley's. The screw-engines are by Messrs. James Watt and Co., of Birmingham, and consist of 4 direct acting cylin. ders, of 84 inches diameter of bore, with a stroke of 4 feet, each cylinder weighing 30 tons, with a total nominal power of 1600 horses ; 6 boilers, fed by 12 furnaces each, supply the steam ; the weight of these engines alone is 500 tons. The screw-propeller is 24 feet in diameter, and 37 feet pitch : it weighs 60 tons, has 4 blades, and is connected with the engines by a shaft 160 feet long, and weighing upwards of 60 tons ; it was forged at the works of Messrs. Mare, at Blackwall, by Mr. Hardy. She is also fitted with everal auxiliary engines, for hoisting sails, working the screw when disconnected from the larger engines, anchoring, weighing, &c. &c.

« PreviousContinue »