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THE MOST IMPORTANT DISCOVERIES AND IMPROVEMENTS
OF THE PAST YEAR
IN MECHANICS AND THE USEFUL ARTS; NATURAL PHILOSOPHY ;
AND MINERALOGY; METEOROLOGY AND ASTRONOMY.
BY JOHN TIMBS,
AUTHOR OF “ CURIOSITIES OF SCIENCE,” “THINGS NOT GENERALLY KNOWN," ETC.
“ When a great invention is achieved and published for the benefit of the human
Holborn Valley Viaduct-Farringdon Street Bridge. (See p. 9.)
THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
ASTOS, LENON 1!1SEN SIDATION
LONDON: PRINTED BY BPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARB
AND PARLIAMENT STREET
MR. E. J. REED, C.B.,
. (With a Portrait.) This able engineer was born at Sheerness in the Isle of Sheppy, Kent, in 1830. After serving four years of his apprenticeship to the shipbuilding trade in Sheerness Royal Dockyard, he was selected at a competitive examination by the Rev. Canon -Moseley, who acted for the Government, to undergo a special training in the School of Mathematics and Naval Construction at Portsmouth, then under the charge of the Rev. Joseph Woolley, LL.D., F.R.A.S. On his appointment, Mr. Roed received the personal thanks of Admiral Price, then Superintendent of the dockyard, for his exemplary conduct, during the period of his study at the dockyard school. At the Portsmouth School of Naval Construction Mr. Reed always held a high position'; and before the abolition of that school, in 1852, received from Dr. Woolley a special recommendation to Sir F. Baring, then First Lord of the Admiralty, as being peculiarly qualified for advancement in Her Majesty's service. The Ministry of Lord J. Russell resigning, however, at that time, nothing came of this recommendation, and when the late Sir James Graham again became First Lord of the Admiralty, the Portsmouth School, like its predecessor at the same place, was abolished. After serving a year in Sheerness Dockyard as a draughtsman, Mr. Reed, finding that the professional education which he and others had received was of no avail in the only offices then open to them in Her Majesty's service, accepted the editorsbip of the Mechanics' Magazine, which had always had more or less connection with shipbuilding literature, and which, under his management, soon became an authority on questions of Naval Architecture; its articles on that subject being frequently quoted in the House of Commons. It is worthy of remark that when the administration of Admiral Sir Baldwin Walker, the late Surveyor of the Navy, was called in question in Parliament a few years since, the substance of the First Lord of the Admiralty's (Sir C. Wood's) defence was an extract from an article from the pen of Mr. Reed in the publication which he edited, and that defence was accepted by Parliament as virtually sufficient, the subject being at once allowed to drop. Shortly afterwards a paper was read by Mr. Reed at the Society of Arts, then under the presidency of his late Royal Highness the Prince Consort, on “The Modifications which the Ships of the Royal Navy have undergone during the present century in Dimensions, Form, Means of Propulsion, and Powers of Attack and Defence; ” nd so great was the effect produced by the mass of informat ion ccumulated in this paper, and by the arguments which the uthor adduced in favour of modern improvements and of active
progress in our naval construction, that its statements were cited repeatedly by the most influential journals as authoritative on these points; and the Government placed in Mr. Reed's hands particulars of the French Navy which they had recently receired, with the view of bringing about a full understanding respecting the relative strengths of the navies of England, France, and other European Powers. When, three years afterwards, Dr. Woolley, Mr. Scott Russell, and other gentlemen interested in naval architecture, met together to establish the Institution of Naval Architects, Mr. Reed was urgently requested to become the professional Secretary ; and after some hesitation he accepted the task. Sir John Pakington, the President of the Institution, and others of its officers, have repeatedly borne publie testimony to the efficiency with which this duty was performed, and have attributed much of the success of the Institution to the services of Mr. Reed.
About this time, Mr. Reed first brought before the Admiralty his proposals to reduce the dimensions, cost, and time required for building our iron-clad ships of war; which proposals were received with readiness and confidence by his Grace the Duke of Somerset, the First Lord of the Admiralty; and by Admiral Robinson, Controller of the Navy. Soon after undertaking the conversion of the Enterprise, Research, Favourite, and other small ships into armour-clads, and after designing the iron-clad frigates Bellerophon, Lord Warden, Lord Clyde, and Pallas, Mr. Roed was offered and accepted the Chief Constructorship of the Navy. The immediate occasion of his appointment was his compliance with the desire of the Admiralty to increase the armour-plating of a class of frigates with wooden halls, which were to be built with the express sanction of the House of Commons, and which are now known as the Lord Warden and Lord Clyde class; the object of the Admiralty being to secure, in conjunction with the increased armour, à speed of thirteen knots. This problem had been pronounced impossible by others, and Mr. Reed, who was then engaged upon the Enterprise, was requested to solve it if possible. This he engaged to do; and when completed, both ships, with the increased armour upon them, steamed at thirteen knots and a half, thus more than fulfilling the required conditions. It may be observed, in short, that Mr. Reed's avowed principles are to build our war-ships, in these days, quickly, powerfully, and with a careful regard to the constructions of other naval powers, so as to maintain that superior force upon the ocean of which we have for ages been justly proud. But these principles are not associated with any tendency to extravagance; on the contrary, Mr. Reed is pre-eminently the advocate of comparatively small, handy, and economical ships, while he is admitted to have made several important simplifications and economisations in the construction of the largest class of ironclads. His largest frigate the Bellerophon, cost, it is said, 100,0001. less than the previou