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Wonders of World Engineering

Part 4



Part 4 of Wonders of World Engineering was published on Tuesday 23rd March 1937, price 7d.


Part 4 includes a colour plate From Cliff Top to the Lighthouse illustrating the article on Sentinels of the Sea. The plate also appeared as the front cover of this issue.





The Cover


From Cliff Top to the Lighthouse: the colour plate accompanying the chapter on Sentinels of the Sea shows workmen travelling on the cableway at Beachy Head Lighthouse. The plate is a reproduction of this week’s cover.


From Cliff Top to the Lighthouse - workmen travelling on the cableway at Beachy Head Lighthouse.


Contents of Part 4


Fighting Famine in India (Part 2)

Sentinels of the Sea

From Cliff Top to the Lighthouse (colour plate)

Romance of Motor Car Making

Artesian Wells

Building the Menai Bridges

Lapland’s Arctic Railway (Part 1)







Nizamsagar Dam

NIZAMSAGAR DAM, built over the River Manjra, is part of a huge irrigation scheme carried out by the Governemnt of Hyderabad. More than 20,000,000 cubic feet of earth and stone were excavated for the foundations of the dam. The enormous flood gates, which weigh 17½ tons, are 40 feet high and are 15 ft 6 in wide.

(Page 101)


Fighting Famine in India (Part 2)


The story of canals, dams and barrages to help stamp out famine in India. The chapter is by Harold Shepstone and is the second article in the series on Triumphs of Irrigation. It is concluded from part 3.

(Pages 101-104)


An Irrigation Weir on the Damodar River

AN IRRIGATION WEIR on the Damodar River in Bengal. The weir, which is 400 feet long, was opened in September 1933, and helps to irrigate some 200,000 acres of land. In 1932 a section of the scheme was put in operation and saved the harvest over an area of 25,500 acres which was threatened by drought. The Government of India has spent millions of pounds in combating the scourge of famine.

(Page 104)






Sentinels of the Sea


Extraordinary ingenuity, courage and determination are shown by the engineers who build, in dangerous and difficult conditions, the lighthouses which guide and safeguard ships at sea. Most lighthouses are built on or close to the land, and it might seem that no special difficulties would present themselves when a lighthouse had to be built so near the amenities of everyday life. However this chapter, by Harold Shepstone, shows that extraordinary ingenuity, courage and determination have been displayed by the engineers who have built some of the world’s most famous lighthouses. This chapter deals also with the technical equipment inside a lighthouse.

(Pages 105-111)


There is an article with photogravure supplement on lighthouses in Shipping Wonders of the World, and you can read Frederick Talbot’s book Lightships and Lighthouses (1913).


Click on the small image to see a short British Pathe newsreel clip “Safety Lights” on lighthouses and lightships (1938).


From Cliff Top to the Lighthouse


FROM CLIFF TOP TO THE LIGHTHOUSE, which was built 500 feet from the base of Beachy Head, Sussex, men and materials were transported by a cableway. The original lighthouse at Beachy Head was on top of the cliff, but because the light was often obscured by fog, the new lighthouse was built at sea level. A cofferdam was built on the site, and pumps kept out the water while the tower was being constructed. The lighthouse is 103 feet high.


(Attached to page 109)


Artesian Wells


In certain parts of the world extensive areas are largely and sometimes entirely dependent on deep-bore wells for their water supply. Such deep-bore wells are called artesian because they were originally supposed to have originated in Artois, France. This chapter is written by

C. Hamilton Ellis.

(Pages 119-124)


You can also read Walter Cox’s book Artesian Wells as a Means of Water Supply (1895).


A 12-in Diameter Boring

AT WORK ON A 12-IN. DIAMETER BORING. This view, taken from below the pulley of a sheer-legs, or derrick, shows men setting the “string of tackle”, at the lower end of which is the cutting bit, with “jars” or sliding links, between the chisel and rope socket.

(Page 119)






Building the Menai Bridges


Although the suspension and tubular bridges over the Menai Straits were built many years ago, they are still classed among great engineering achievements. These remarkable bridges taxed all the skill and ingenuity of their designers, Thomas Telford and Robert Stephenson.

(Pages 125-130)


You can read William Fairbairn’s An Account of the Construction of the Britannia and Conway Tubular Bridges (1849), Samuel Smiles’ account from his Lives of the Stephensons (1894 edition), and an account of the Menai Suspension Bridge in Samuel Smiles’ The Life of Thomas Telford (1864).



Romance of Motor Car Making


Large-scale production of motor-cars is made possible by the specialization and organization of a vast number of engineering processes. The building of Morris cars affords an excellent example of the methods adopted in the industry. Motor cars are a commonplace of our daily life. Many people use them and all of us see them, but not everyone realizes that modern motor car manufacture gives us material for one of the greatest stories of engineering. This chapter by Sidney Howard deals with the manufacture of the modern car and the organization of a typical plant. The factory with which this chapter deals is that of Morris Motors, at Cowley, Oxford. I have chosen the Morris factory not because I have any particular bias towards the Morris cars, but because I can only devote space to one example of a large-scale plant, and because the story of Lord Nuffield’s rise to fame is in itself one of the romances of engineering. As Mr W. R. Morris he began his career by supplying and repairing bicycles at Oxford. Then he carried out the experiments which led to the building of the original Morris car and to the remarkable developments associated with his name.

(Pages 112-118)



 Click on the icon to watch a British Pathe newsreel about the life of William Morris



A Weather Machine


A WEATHER MACHINE which reproduces the effects of two years' British weather in less than a fortnight is used to test the fabrics and paints required in making a Morris car. Samples are fitted into containers on the walls of the cylinder shown, and. are exposed to intense rays from the powerful daylight lamps above. Revolving jets of water spray the samples as if with rain. At the end of the test no fading should be visible to the human eye.


(Page 112)


The Lapland Iron Ore Railway

OVER SNOWCLAD MOUNTAINS the track of the Iron Ore Railway was built in the face of all the privations and dangers of Arctic weather. Owned now by the Swedish State Railways, the first section of the line was opened in 1883 by the North European Railway Company, promoted in Great Britain. Between 1914 and 1923 the line was electrified on the overhead system, the conductor rail system being unsuitable for a line through country subject to heavy snowfalls.

(Page 131)


The Britannia Tubular Bridge

TOWERS AND ABUTMENTS of the Britannia Tubular Bridge were built while the iron tubes were being assembled on the shore. The central tower, known as the Britannia Tower because it rises from the Britannia Rock, is 230 feet high. For this tower 150,000 cubic feet of Anglesey marble and an equal quantity of limestone were used. The land towers reach to a height of 160 feet.

(Page 127)

Nizamsagar DamAn Irrigation Weir on the Damodar RiverStart Point, Devon



Start Point, Devon


A LIGHT WELL KNOWN TO MARINERS is that on Start Point, Devon. The lighthouse is built on the cliff, 140 yards from the extremity of the promontory. The lighthouse is equipped with an automatic radio beacon, which radiates periodically the letters G S M in Morse.


(Page 106)

Beachy Head lighthouseA Weather MachineThe Main Assembly Line in the Morris Works



The Main Assembly Line in the Morris Works

IN THE MAIN ASSEMBLY LINE in the Morris works at Cowley, Oxford, the complete engine unit is added to the chassis frame in one operation. A travelling elevator brings the unit from the store to the engine sub-assembly line, where the accessories are fitted. The engine unit is then lifted by a mechanical hoist and lowered on to the chassis in the main assembly line. A system of overhead travelling cranes brings all components to the main assembly line along which the chassis frame passes, gathering components on its way.

(Pages 112-118)

A 12-in Diameter BoringThe Britannia Tubular BridgeThe Menai Suspension Bridge



The Menai Suspension Bridge


THE SUSPENSION BRIDGE across the Menai Straits from Bangor to Beaumaris has a central span of 550 feet, which in Telford’s day was unprecedented. The approaches to the central span carry the road over two short embankments and seven arches, each with a span of 52 ft 6 in. Four of these arches on the Anglesey side and three on the mainland side of the bridge. The roadway is suspended by iron rods from great chains which, anchored in the rock at either end, pass over the tops of the massive masonry piers.


(Page 128)


Lapland’s Arctic Railway (Part 1)


Beyond the Arctic Circle in Sweden, engineers have built a railway to open up a valuable natural deposit of iron ore, and Nature has been harnessed to supply the power for the railway. The article is concluded in part 5.

(Pages 131-132)


This railway is also described in Railway Wonders of the World.

The Lapland Iron Ore Railway