- Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet
image_width = 150px
caption = An 1868 engraving of Sir John Fowler by
Thomas Oldham Barlowfrom a portrait by Sir John Everett Millais
name = John Fowler
nationality = English
15 July 1817
Wadsley, South Yorkshire
death_date = Death date and age|1898|11|10|1817|7|15
Institution of Civil Engineers(president)
significant_projects = Forth Bridge,
significant_design = "Fowler's Ghost"
Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet KCMG (
15 July 1817– 10 November 1898) was a railway engineerin Victorian Britain. He helped build the first underground railway in London, the Metropolitan linein the 1860s, a shallow line built by the " cut-and-cover" method. His finest achievement was the Forth railway bridge built in the 1880s.
Fowler was born in
Wadsley, South Yorkshire, England.
Benjamin Baker, he designed the Forth Bridge, a cantilever bridge, and Millwall Dockin east London. He was called in after the Norwood Junction rail accidentwhen a cast iron bridge on the London-Brighton railway line fractured as a train passed over (1891). The girder failed from a large internal hole which had not been detected at installation. Since he had designed and built most of the bridges on the line, he advised that many should be strengthened or replaced, given the heavier locomotives then in use compared with those when the bridges were first built. Cast iron beam bridges had failed frequently and were barred from use as under-bridges by the Board of Tradeafter the Norwood accident.
Benjamin Bakerand William Arrolhe designed and built the world-famous Forth railway bridge using the principle of the cantilever. The construction created a continuous railway connection from Edinburghto Aberdeen, and the design replaced an earlier proposal by William Bouchfor a suspension bridge. After the Tay Bridge disaster, the plans were scrapped.
The bridge is famous for being one of the first to use
steelthroughout. The bridge is regarded as an engineeringmarvel. It is 2.5 km (1.5 miles) in length, and the double track is elevated 46 m (approx. 150 ft) above high tide. It consists of two main spans of convert|1710|ft|m|abbr=on, two side spans of 675 ft, 15 approach spans of convert|168|ft|m|abbr=on, and five of convert|25|ft|m|abbr=on. Each main span comprises two convert|680|ft|m|abbr=on cantileverarms supporting a central convert|350|ft|m|abbr=on span girder bridge. The three great four-tower cantilever structures are 340 ft (104 m) tall, each convert|70|ft|m|abbr=on diameter foot resting on a separate foundation. The southern group of foundations had to be constructed as caissons under compressed air, to a depth of convert|90|ft|m|abbr=on. At its peak, approximately 4,600 workers were employed in its construction. Initially, it was recorded that 57 lives were lost; however, after extensive research by local historians, the figure has been revised upwards to 98.
He is credited with the building of the near identical
Albert Edward Bridgeat Coalbrookdale, Shropshire in 1864 and Victoria Bridge at Upper Arley, Worcestershire in 1861. Both remain in use today carrying out their originally designed function of carrying railway lines across the River Severn. Albert Edward Bridge carries the railway line from Lightmoor Junctionto Ironbridge Power Station. Victoria Bridge carries the preserved Severn Valley Railwaybetween Arley and Bewdley.
Following the death of
Isambard Kingdom Brunelin 1859, Fowler was retained by the Great Western RailwayCompany as a consulting engineer, and a ex-Great Western Railway Sir Watkin class locomotive was named "Fowler" in his honour.
Fowler was also the designer of an experimental
fireless locomotive(nicknamed Fowler's Ghost) which was tried out on the Metropolitan Railwayin the 1860s. It stored energy in heated bricks (on the same principle as a storage heater) but was unsuccessful.
Three different designs were produced but only one locomotive was actually built and this has led to some confusion. The first design was for a 2-2-2 saddle-tank and a drawing of this has been published in some books as a representation of the real machine, although it was never built.
The locomotive actually built, by
Robert Stephenson and Company, was a broad-gauge 2-4-0 tender engine. It was of fairly conventional appearance but very unconventional inside. The boiler had a normal firebox and this was connected to a large combustion chamber containing a quantity of fire brick. The combustion chamber communicated with the smokeboxthrough a set of very short firetubes. Exhaust steam was condensed by a water-jet condenser and there was a pump to maintain a vacuum in the condenser. The idea was that it would operate as an ordinary coal-fired locomotive in the open but, when approaching a tunnel, the dampers would be closed and steam would be generated using stored heat from the firebricks. It was tried out in 1861 but was a dismal failure.
Following this unsuccessful trial a third design was produced, this time for a 4-2-2 saddle tank. It would, again, have had the hot brick heat store but, above the boiler drum, would have been a second steam/water drum to allow for large variations in water level. This machine was never built and, instead, conventional steam locomotives with condensing apparatus were used.
The Metropolitan Railway advertised the 2-4-0 locomotive for sale in 1865 and some parts of it were bought by
Isaac Watt Boulton.
In 1865, he was elected president of the
Institution of Civil Engineers, the youngest ever president.
In 1890, he was created a
baronet, Fowler of Braemore.
He died in
Bournemouth, Dorset, at the age of 81 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London. [http://www.brompton.org/Residents.htm]
He was succeeded to the baronetcy by his son, Sir John Arthur Fowler, 2nd Baronet (d.
25 March 1899). The baronetcy became extinct in 1933.
* "The Chronicles of Boulton's Siding" by Alfred Rosling Bennett, first published by the Locomotive Publishing Company in 1927, new impression by David & Charles 1971, ISBN 0 7153 5318 7
* Peter R. Lewis, "Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay: Reinvestigating the Tay Bridge Disaster of 1879", Tempus, 2004, ISBN 0-7524-3160-9.
*Charles McKean "Battle for the North: The Tay and Forth bridges and the 19th century railway wars" Granta, 2006, ISBN 1-86207-852-1
* John Rapley, "Thomas Bouch : the builder of the Tay Bridge", Stroud : Tempus, 2006, ISBN 0-7524-3695-3
* PR Lewis, "Disaster on the Dee: Robert Stephenson's Nemesis of 1847", Tempus Publishing (2007) ISBN 978 0 7524 4266 2
* [http://18.1911encyclopedia.org/F/FO/FOWLER_SIR_JOHN.htm 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica article]
* [http://www.chrishobbs.com/johnfowlerforthrail.htm Biography]
s-start s-npo|pro s-bef|before=
John Robinson McCleans-ttl|title=President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
years=December 1865 – December 1867 s-aft|after=
Charles Hutton Gregoryend
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