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Vision expressed


I was very interested to read the article about Charles Blacker Vignoles (NCE 1 April) which stirred some memories of documents read during my student days long ago.

Vignoles, engineer-in-chief (1832) of the first Irish railway, was also a close friend of IK Brunel and other prominent engineers of the Victorian era. Along with Palmer, Price and George Stephenson he assisted Brunel through the Commons committee stages of the Great Western Railway in 1835.

He also considered that the 'atmospheric' railway of Mr Pinkus and Mr Clegg's 'pneumatic' railway had a potential, which was demonstrated by the full scale trials of J Pim in Dublin.

Vignoles felt, as did Brunel and Cubitt, that this method of transport should be the subject of more extensive trials.

An experimental atmospheric line was set up by Brunel between Exeter and Turf during February, 1847 and later in the same year a full service was established as far as Teignmouth. This service was finally extended to Newton Abbot in 1848.

In 1836 Vignoles introduced a rail type that still bears his name today. This rail was a basic 'I' section with a flat base, which he unsuccessfully tried to get the Midland Counties Railway to adopt.

D Little, 9 Sayer Way, Knebworth, Herts, SG3 6BN

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