« PreviousContinue »
JOHN SCOTT RUSSELL, C.E., F.R.S., &c., BUILDER OF THE “LEVIATHAN” STEAM-SHIP.
(With a Portrait.) The great event in the mechanical science of the past year has been the rapid completion of the Leviathan steam-ship, by Mr. John Scott Russell, whose por. trait, therefore, very appropriately faces the title-page of the presen tvolume of scientific records of 1857.
The antecedents of Mr. Scott Russell show that in very early life he displayed that genius and love of enterprise which prepared the possessor for great and original undertakings. He was born in the Vale of Clyde, in 1808, and is the eldest son of the Rev. David Russell, of the family of Russell of Braidwood. He received a University education, and graduated with honour, at the age of sixteen. He evinced a very early predilection for practical mechanics, to encourage which his father first permitted him to employ himself in the workshop of an engineer; and afterwards assisted him to prosecute his studies in mechanics, physics, and the higher mathematics. In these he had made such advances, that when Sir John Leslie, the Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, died at the commencement of the winter of 1832, the young engineer, Scott Russell, was elected to supply, temporarily, the vacancy, and delivered a complete course of lectures on Natural Philosophy to the students, who attended in unusual numbers the prelections of one much younger than themselves. From this time his course as a practical engineer became decided. In a few years he succeeded Mr. Caird, of Greenock, as the manager of one of the largest engineering establishments in Scotland, and there he continued for some years. Well do we remember Mr. Scott Russell's able communications to the Scottish Society of Arts, of which several of our Year-Books of Facts bear record; and to us their salient points were the presage of a life of activity and skilful enterprise to be developed in the metropolis of England, whither Mr. Scott Russell removed in the year 1844.
Meanwhile, the practical man had not neglected his science, but had well applied its doctrines to the mechanical arts. He became a ship-builder, and was then led to investigate the laws by which water opposes resistance to the motion of floating bodies; he subsequently established the phenomenon in hydrodynamics known as “the wave of translation," and invented a new form for ships, which possesses the quality of the least resistance, and on which he founded his " wave system of construction, introduced into practice about 1835. Steamvessels built on this system have risen from the former usual rate of ten miles an hour to the high velocities of twelve, sixteen, and seventeen miles an hour. A memoir on these discoveries was read by Mr. Scott Russell before the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1837, and obtained for him the large Gold Medal ; when he was also elected a Fellow of the Society, and immediately placed upon the Council. Ten years later he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He has been also for many years an active member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science; and in 1847, in conjunction with Sir John Robison, Mr. Scott Russell conducted an important series of experiments on Waves, which are recorded in the Society's
Reports. Mr. Scott Russell has been long a very efficient member of the Society of Arts : he was for some time its secretary, and in 1845 was one of a committee appointed by the Society to organize a National Exhibition of Works of Industrial Art; for this purpose Mr. Scott Russell subscribed money, and gave his untiring efforts, but without success. Of these preliminary proceedings he has published a Narrative. Meanwhile, the Prince Albert, as President of the Society of Arts, was cognizant of these proceedings; Mr. Scott Russell and his coadjutors, Mr. Francis Fuller and Mr. Henry Cole, persevered in their good work; but the Government would in no way assist them; and it was not until 1849, when the plan had been so far matured as almost to ensure success, that the Prince President 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 gentlemanly 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 photograph 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.
Mechanical and Üseful Jrts.
LEVIATHAN” STEAM-SHIP. • The origin and mechanical structure of this stupendous ship cannot 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 cona 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.