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CONSTRUCTION OF THE BUILDING.
Had circumstances determined that the present industrial position of England The present should have been represented by the building alone, while other nations should twn of England have been allowed to indicate the scope of their resources by a display of choice building, as well specimens of all the varied branches of productions to which their efforts had of characteriitic» of late years been directed, it is singular to remark how few elements, essential to her commercial success, would have been lost sight of. The courage of her both penouai citizens would have been manifested in the vastness of the scheme, their energy, determination, and strength, in the surprising rapidity with which every operation had been carried on.
The happy condition of the liberty of the subject would have been attested and toci.i. by the circumstance of its having been in the power of the people alone to will the existence of so vast a structure; while the fact that the whole expenses had been provided for without in any way trenching on the national resources, would have evidenced at once the wealth and the spirit of enterprise common to every class of society.
That it should have been possible in any country to have so speedily collected Evidence given by
. „ f, . . . i T l e the building of
such a vast quantity of materials, without previously sounding the note ot prepara- extent of national
tion, would have furnished strong evidence of the abundance of its native resources, production or
and conveyed some faint idea of the extent of the stores of raw material kept
ever ready to supply the exigencies of sudden demand. That that raw material
should have been moulded into forms so various, so complex, and so original, in
so short a time, would argue that such a result could alone have been effected
by the natives of a country in which a knowledge of the principles and practice
of mechanics and machinery had been long deeply studied and widely diffused. Machinery,
The facility with which the machinery employed must have been brought to
bear upon the masses of raw material supplied, would have evidenced a power to
produce, and to elaborate matter into manufacture, of the very highest order; Manufacture!.,
while the grace with which the charm of decoration has been superadded, to so
utilitarian a structure, would have served to show, that mindful as the English
habitually are, of the practical and economical, they are by no means indifferent and objects of
to the beautiful in the Fine Arts. Fin. Am.
Whoever had been enabled to trace through every stage the progress of the organization of Exhibition Building, from the first order given by the contractor, to the issue of 0^,rionn?nC^P. the final directions for its opening, would have had an opportunity of realising the '>'y'deve,or,!,, bv perfection to which the practice of connecting commercial co-operation in supply,
and mutual reliance in money and time bargains, with the methodical organization of labour, has been carried in England at the present time. It is by means of
P«i wintering tne experience acquired in the conduct of the vast engineering works which have of late years occupied the attention, and commanded the labours of some of her most intelligent citizens, that this country has been enabled to reduce to a perfect system this power of subordinating the supply of materials, and of eliciting, in similar works, that precise description of labour from every individual, for which his natural characteristics or education may have specially qualified him.
Combination and The firm through whose exertions the building has been erected, in itself
division of laliour ° ....
nee*TMTM to carry presents an excellent model of the commercial constitution necessary to produce
out Mich works
such great works with rapidity. While of its heads, one is remarkable for high scientific attainments, another possesses singular commercial aptitude, together with a minute knowledge of the working details of his business. Others again, bring to the common stock of intelligence a precise knowledge of legal and monetary transactions, together with experience acquired in many years' connection with speculations of great magnitude. The principal superintendents and foremen set in operation by this intellectual motive power, are each adapted to the particular duties they may be called upon to perform, and act precisely as the various portions of a well-devised machine, being at the same time maintained in as perfect control. Through these agents the labour of the artisan, skilled in his own department, profoundly ignorant in others, is brought into useful operation; and thus thousands are combined to realise the will of one directing mind. But for the perfect system of discipline, which frequent practice in directing the labours of masses of workmen has now made general throughout England, it would have been impossible to have fashioned, in so short a time, so novel and so vast a structure as this Temple of Peace, the gates of which may, we trust, be thrown open to the world at large, for many years to come. Division of the How far the Exhibition Building conveys a true idea of English constructive
subject into— .. .,.. . . « . ,
i. The building power, can only be ascertained by a minute examination ot its anatomy; and we H. in creation, shall therefore proceed to sketch in some detail its actual nature and appearance, and the successive steps by which it has grown into its present condition.
The site for the building is the one originally proposed for it by H.R.H. Prince Albert at the first private meeting, held on the subject of the Exhibition, at Buckingham Palace, on the 30th June, 1849. It consists of a rectangular strip The site in Hyde of ground in Hyde Park, situated between the Queen's Drive and Rotten Row, and contains about 26 acres; being approximately 2,300 feet in length, by 500 feet in breadth. Its principal frontage extends from east to west. Several lofty elms stretch across the centre of its length, and a few smaller trees are scattered over its area. These trees have for the most part been retained, and to the finest of them we are indebted for the existence of the beautiful transept roof; since, had they not presented difficulties to the construction of a roof of lower pitch, it is more than probable that the noble vault which now spans them would have been scarcely ventured on. The ground, although apparently level, actually falls, not less than 1 in 250 from west to east. From the popularity of the spot, the ease with which it can be approached, the opportunities for obtaining beautiful views of the building from every direction, and the facility with which it has been drained, and supplied with gas and water, it is scarcely possible that a site could have been found more admirably adapted for such a purpose, than the one upon which the building now stands.
The principal entrance to the Exhibition is situated in the centre of the south m, B«imi»s .•— side, opposite to the Prince of Wales's Gate, one of the main entrances to Hyde eJi'EnS'f* Park.
visitor finds admittance to the main building, and stands beneath the roof of the great feature of the whole, the transept. Above his head, at a height of 68 feet from the ground, springs a semi-cylindrical vault, 72 feet in diameter, which extends for a length of 408 feet from south to north. On each side of the space The
so covered, runs an aisle 24 feet transept is represented in Plate I.
wide. The "coup d'ceil" afforded by the
Advancing about halfway along the transept, the visitor will find himself as nearly as possible in the centre of the building; and from this point his eye may its central point; range eastward and westward along its vast nave, for a distance of upwards of 900 feet in each direction; the total length of the building being not less than 1848 feet By reference to the ground plan given at page 1, and to fig. 2, a clearer idea may be formed of the manner in which the vast area, that thus opens itself to the view, has been distributed, than could be conveyed by many pages of description. The nave is a grand avenue 64 feet high and 72 feet wide, crossing in extent, the transept at right angles. On each side of it extend aisles 24 feet in width, and above them, at a height of 24 feet from the ground, are carried galleries, surrounding the whole of the nave and the transept; so that a complete circuit of communication is carried throughout the whole structure at that level.
Beyond these first aisles, and parallel with them, at a distance of 48 feet, arc anddivisions on second aisles of similar width, and similarly covered for their whole width with P **" galleries on the same level as those over the first aisles. In order that the
public may pass freely from one line of galleries to the other, bridges, at frequent intervals, span the 48 feet avenues, and at the same time divide them into courts, each of which has been so arranged as to present an " ensemble" to the eye of the spectator looking down upon it from the galleries. The width of 48 feet which we have described as thus subdivided, and the second aisles, are roofed over at a height of 44 feet from the ground. The remaining portion of the building in width consists of one story only, 24 feet high; in which, of course, there are no galleries. Ten double staircases, 8 feet wide, give access to these galleries.
The airy lightness of the whole structure, and its immense dimensions, are the features which will no doubt first excite the wonder, and perhaps the timidity of the visitor; but when he learns how rigidly the strength of every portion has been investigated, with what care the connection of every part has been made, and that the whole of that which appears to him so complicated, is but the repetition of a few simple elements, he will throw aside alarm, and rest upon the con sciousness that those most competent to investigate questions of force to overturn, and strength to resist, have spared no pains to assure themselves of the perfection of the parts, and the consequent stability of the whole.
The lightness of the proportions will at once assure the spectator of the nature of the material which forms the main supports of the building. While the vertical supports consist entirely of cast-iron, the horizontal connections and girders are constructed of both wrought and cast iron. Of wrought-iron it has been estimated that no less than 550 tons have been used, and of cast-iron 3,500 tons. The whole of the roof, above the highest tier of iron frame-work, consists of wood and glass, and the external enclosures and face-work are constructed almost entirely of the same materials. It is estimated that 896,000 superficial feet of glass, weighing 400 tons, have been employed; whilst the quantity of wood used, including the whole of the flooring, has been no less than 600,000 cubic feet.
In designing the building, care has been taken so to arrange that the position of every column shall occur at the points of intersection of lines, 24 feet apart, crossing one another at right angles, while in roofing and flooring the squares, into which the whole plan has been thus allotted, have been subdivided into others of 8 feet. This arrangement accounts for the beautiful regularity of the lines of the columns, &c, when viewed diagonally.
In order to afford some idea of the extent of mechanical difficulties involved in the erection of such a building, and to furnish, as it were, a scale by which to estimate the nature of the work, we shall proceed, before entering upon the subject of its general extent and arrangement, to describe the mode of construction of one of the 24-feet bays or compartments, taken at random from the side aisle adjoining the main avenue.
The exact situation of the four columns enclosing the space referred to having first been determined, holes were dug to such a depth as to lay bare the gravel; which extends, with scarcely a fault, over the whole surface of the site, at an average depth of between 2 and 4 feet. The size of the holes dug out for the foundations, and the quantity of concrete thrown into those holes in order to form a secure foundation for the superstructure, was determined by the estimated weight of that superstructure; and it was so arranged that, allowing for every possible contingency, under no circumstances should a pressure greater than 2£ tons per foot superficial be brought to bear upon the foundation.
Those serving to convey away roof water;
On the surface of fine mortar, with which the concrete was covered, was placed The base Piate«
a casting, which has been technically called a base-plate. This casting is repre-
tions, with corresponding holes. The upper face of the tube, and the under
The columns are 8 inches in diameter, and those on the ground-floor are 18 feet The columns 5fc inches high. The plan or horizontal section of these columns, which was the suggestion of Mr. Barky, is well adapted for its purpose, mechanically as well as artistically; for while it presents a pleasing variation from the ordinary circular form, the different flat bands upon it afford surfaces well suited for the con