London: Published and sold at the Tunnel Works, Rotherhithe, and by Messers. Harvey and Darton, 55, Gracechurch Street. Printed by the Philanthropic Society, St. George's Fields. 1827. First ed. Oblong 16 mo., 5 3/8 x 3 3/4 inches, (26) pp., 12 plates, steel engravings and lithographs, of which two are folding and one has an overlay. Original marbled paper wrappers, with printed label, backed in linen. Slight occasional foxing., with a short tear to the backing at the base of the spine. Very good. Item #50016
THE FIRST UNDERWATER TUNNEL IN THE WORLD
"Several projects to build a tunnel under the Thames had previously been attempted in order to improve north-south communications. In 1798, Ralph Dodd suggested the construction of a tunnel between Gravesend and Tilbury. Although a shaft was effectively sunk at Gravesend in 1800-1802, construction was stopped for two main reasons: the presence of quicksand, which allowed the river to break in, and the exorbitant cost. In 1804, the Thames Archway Project was started for a tunnel between Rotherhithe and Limehouse. The engineer was Robert Vazie. After a shaft was sunk at Rotherhithe, Vazie began work on a drift-way. In November 1807, Richard Trevithik replaced Vazie as engineer. The drift-way eventually revealed that much of the strata was sand and gravel, giving way to quicksand occasionally. In 1808, a constant flood finally forced Trevithik to stop the excavation. The drift-way was only within 70 ft. of the north bank. In 1809, the Thames Archway Company opened a public competition for schemes that could effectively address the technical and financial challenges in the building of this tunnel. Charles Wyatt won with a proposal to make a tunnel by digging a trench in the bed of the Thames, sinking brick cylinders into the trench and joining them underwater. The Company hired John Isaac Hawkins to test the viability of the plan. In 1810-1811, the cylinders were built, lowered and joined with a mixture of mud and gravel. However, this new scheme again failed to solve the two familiar difficulties: the vulnerability of the riverbed and the high cost. As we will see in this essay, Brunel's engineering ingenuity eventually overcame both of these formidable challenges." Pablo Alvarez, Curator of Rare Books, University of Rochester.