Ref NoDM1306/11/1/2/folio 1-15
TitleLetter from Isambard Kingdom Brunel to the Directors of the Eastern Steam Navigation Company
DescriptionWritten from 18 Duke Street, Westminster, London. The letter reports on the progress that has been made with the ship over the previous six months. The letter explains that main and longitudinal bulkheads have been fitted along with the forty feet and partial bulkheads and the inner skin of the ship's hull has been plated. Brunel complains that the upper deck has not proceeded as quickly as expected and the roofing-in has not happened but that work is proceeding on the engines with all the principal parts of the engines having been cast. The report details the extra considerations that needed to be made due to the unusual dimensions, form and mode of construction of the ship and the need to ensure the greatest amount of strength with the minimum amount of material. The report describes Brunel's general approach to the design and the construction process and the systems that he has put in place for authorising the work. The report discusses Brunel's plans for the launching, with a glancing reference to the mode of launching the Great Britain and a detailed discussion of the decision making process. Brunel describes the plans he has made for the launching and reiterates that none of his plans are novel and also discusses some of the peculiarities of the construction of the vessel, including the design features that make the ship watertight and safe in the event of damage to the hull and the experiments Brunel is making to reduce the danger from fire. The report also mentions the various experiments that Brunel has conducted in order to determine details of the construction, including the size of the boiler, the placement and size of the screw and paddle wheels and even the type of door panels and also mentions the people that Brunel has consulted with, including Professor Airy (regarding the observational instruments) and Sir W Snow Harris (regarding lightning conductors) and his intention to consult additional people regarding the question of local magnetic attraction from the iron in the hull affecting the ship's compasses.

There are some pencil annotations on the margins on Folios 1, 3 and 7.

This letter may have been included in DM162/10/12/folio 258.
Date5 February 1855
FormatManuscript volume
Extent15 pages
















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