Clark, Edwin

SUBJECT AREA: Civil engineering
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b. 7 January 1814 Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England
d. 22 October 1894 Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England
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English civil engineer.
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After a basic education in mathematics, latin, French and geometry, Clark was articled to a solicitor, but he left after two years because he did not like the work. He had no permanent training otherwise, and for four years he led an idle life, becoming self-taught in the subjects that interested him. He eventually became a teacher at his old school before entering Cambridge, although he returned home after two years without taking a degree. He then toured the European continent extensively, supporting himself as best he could. He returned to England in 1839 and obtained further teaching posts. With the railway boom in progress he decided to become a surveyor and did some work on a proposed line between Oxford and Brighton.
After being promised an interview with Robert Stephenson, he managed to see him in March 1846. Stephenson took a liking to Clark and asked him to investigate the strains on the Britannia Bridge tubes under various given conditions. This work so gained Stephenson's full approval that, after being entrusted with experiments and designs, Clark was appointed Resident Engineer for the Britannia Bridge across the Menai Straits. He not only completed the bridge, which was opened on 19 October 1850, but also wrote the history of its construction. After the completion of the bridge—and again without any professional experience—he was appointed Engineer-in-Chief to the Electric and International Telegraph Company. He was consulted by Captain Mark Huish of the London \& North Western Railway on a telegraphic system for the railway, and in 1853 he introduced the Block Telegraph System.
Clark was engaged on the Crystal Palace and was responsible for many railway bridges in Britain and abroad. He was Engineer and part constructor of the harbour at Callao, Peru, and also of harbour works at Colón, Panama. On canal works he was contractor for the marine canal, the Morskoy Canal, in 1875 between Kronstadt and St Petersburg. His great work on canals, however, was the concept with Edward Leader Williams of the hydraulically operated barge lift at Anderton, Cheshire, linking the Weaver Navigation to the Trent \& Mersey Canal, whose water levels have a vertical separation of 50 ft (15 m). This was opened on 26 July 1875. The structure so impressed the French engineers who were faced with a bottleneck of five locks on the Neuffossée Canal south of Saint-Omer that they commissioned Clark to design a lift there. This was completed in 1878 and survives as a historic monument. The design was also adopted for four lifts on the Canal du Centre at La Louvière in Belgium, but these were not completed until after Clark's death.
JHB

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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