Ref NoDM1306/11/1/1/folio 290-304
TitleLetter from Isambard Kingdom Brunel to the Directors of the Eastern Steam Navigation Company
DescriptionWritten from 18 Duke Street, London. The letter apologises that holiday and other factors have delayed Brunel's report on the state of the progress on the ship and continues with a detailed report on the state of progress with the Eastern Steam Navigation Company's great steam ship. The report justifies the amount of detailed work and thought that was needed for the building of the hull and the amount of time taken before construction started to ensure that all the decisions as to the size and form of the ship were made and the detailed plans were prepared for the contractors to work from. The report describes the decision-making process behind the method of launching that Brunel has chosen and comments on the various available methods of launching, including launching from a dry dock, as in the case of the S.S. Great Britain. Brunel explains that finding a site suitable for launching such a large, heavy ship would have been difficult and then constructing the dock would have been hazardous and expensive. Brunel also explains that building on a launching slope would have meant part of the ship's keel was raised over 50 feet in the air with the forecastle 100 feet up as well as various other technical and logistical difficulties so he determined on another, sideways, launching method which he believes has no logistical or practical difficulties and describes the steps taken to set up for a sideways launch. The report also details some of the peculiarities of the ship's construction including the transverse division of the ship into ten water-tight compartments and the inclusion of additional partial bulkheads which provide a coal bunker as well as an additional compartment and the various design decisions Brunel has made to ensure water-tightness and compartmentalisation of the ship in case of a hull-breach. The report also describes the steps taken to strengthen and fire-proof the hull. The report also explains how the interior arrangement of the hull plates as well as the bulkheads, the ribs and the cabins serves to reduce the total weight of the ship which both reduces the expenditure during construction and increases the carrying capacity for cargo and coal, thus increasing future profit. The report details the state of construction including the quantities of iron already fixed on the hull, those ordered and lying in the shipyard being put together and the quantity on order and the construction work that has gone on to make the shipyard suitable, including erecting staging, laying railways across the shipyard and roofing over the construction work. The work done on the paddle wheel and paddle wheel engines is also reported on, including Brunel's research and experimentation on boilers as well as his research on the most suitable dimensions of paddle wheel. The report also mentions Brunel's current areas of study, including the effect of a wooden door on a boiler, investigations into the masts and rigging of the ship and his consultations with Professor Airy and others over the most suitable scientific and observational instruments to carry on the ship. There is a pencil margin note on Folio 292.
Date7 November 1854
FormatManuscript volume
Extent15 pages
















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