Turner, Richard

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b. 1798 probably Dublin, Ireland d. 1881
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Irish engineer offerrovitreous structures such as glasshouses and roofs of railway terminus buildings. Lime Street Station, Liverpool, erected 1849–50, was a notable example of the latter.
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Turner's first glasshouse commission was for the Palm House at the Botanic Gardens in Belfast, begun in 1839; this structure was designed by Charles Lanyon, Turner being responsible for the ironwork construction. The Belfast Palm House was followed in 1843 by the Palm House for the Royal Dublin Society, but the structure for which Turner is best known is the famous Palm House in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew Gardens in London. This was originally designed in 1844 by the architect Decimus Burton, but his concept was rejected and Turner was asked to design a new one. Burton tried again, basing his new design upon that of Turner but also incorporating features that made it more similar to the famous Great Conservatory by Paxton at Chatsworth. Finally, Turner was contracted to build the Palm Stove in collaboration with Burton. Completed in 1848, the Kew Palm House is the finest example of the glasshouses of that era. This remarkable structure is simple but impressive: it is 362 ft (110 m) long and is covered by 45,000 ft2 (4,180 m2) of greenish glass. Inside, in the central taller part, a decorative, cast-iron, spiral staircase gives access to an upper gallery, from where tall plants may be clearly viewed; the roof rises to 62 ft (19 m). The curving, glazed panels, set in ribs of wrought iron, rise from a low masonry wall. The ingenious method of construction of these ribs was patented by Turner in 1846. It consists of wrought-iron tie rods inserted into hollow cast-iron tubes; these can be tightened after the erection of the building is complete, so producing a stable, balanced structure not unlike the concept of a timber-trussed roof. The Palm Stove has only recently undergone extensive adaptation to modern needs.
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Further Reading
J.Hix, 1974, The Glass House, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 122–7 (the Palm House at Kew).
U.Kulturmann, 1979, Architecture and Urbanism, Tokyo, pp. 76–81 (the Palm House at Kew).
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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