Bailey, Sir Donald Coleman

SUBJECT AREA: Civil engineering
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b. 15 September 1901 Rotherham, Yorkshire, England
d. 5 May 1985 Bournemouth, Dorset, England
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English engineer, designer of the Bailey bridge.
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Bailey was educated at the Leys School, Cambridge, before going to Sheffield University where he studied for a degree in engineering. He joined the Civil Service in 1928 and was posted to the staff of the Experimental Bridging Establishment of the Ministry of Supply at Christchurch, Hampshire. There he continued his boyhood hobby of making model bridges of wood and string. He evolved a design for a prefabricated metal bridge assembled from welded panels linked by pinned joints; this became known as the Bailey bridge. Its design was accepted by the War Office in 1941 and from then on it was used throughout the subsequent conflict of the Second World War. It was a great improvement on its predecessor, the Inglis bridge, designed by a Cambridge University professor of engineering, Charles Inglis, with tubular members that were 10 or 12 ft (3.66 m) long; this bridge was notoriously difficult to construct, particularly in adverse weather conditions, whereas the Bailey bridge's panels and joints were far more manageable and easy to assemble. The simple and standardized component parts of the Bailey bridge made it highly adaptable: it could be strengthened by increasing the number of truss girders, and wide rivers could be crossed by a series of Bailey bridges connected by pontoons. Field Marshal Montgomery is recorded as saying that without the Bailey bridge we should not have won the war'.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Knighted 1946.
Further Reading
Obituary, 1985, The Guardian 6 May.
IMcN

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

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