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John Scott Russell.John Scott Russell.
John Scott Russell.

© National Maritime Museum, London

Repro ID: H1690
Title: John Scott Russell.
Description: John Scott Russell (1808-82) was a famous engineer, naval architect and shipbuilder. Born in Glasgow, he soon abandoned plans to join the ministry for a career in engineering. His first invention - a steam carriage - was initially successful, but his enterprise as a steam-coach operator came to an end in 1834, when four people were killed in one of his carriages. One of his next contracts was with the Union Canal at Hermiston, Edinburgh, where he developed means of reducing the drag on canal boats. It was during this period that he noticed the phenomenon of the solitary wave. A canal boat stopped suddenly, causing a single wave to set off down the canal. Russell followed the wave on horseback for several miles before it dissipated. Although the significance of his observation is now attracting attention in the areas of optoelectronics and telecommunications, Russell applied his observations to the redesign of ships' hulls, providing shipbuilders with their first scientific guide in the pursuit of speed. Scott Russell went on to an eventful career in engineering, founding the Institution of Naval Architects. As a noted designer and builder of iron ships on the River Thames, he gained the contract to build Brunel's 'Great Eastern', by far the largest ship of its time.
Creator: Mayall for 'The Illustrated London News'
Date: 1858
Credit line: National Maritime Museum, London


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