Lartigue, Charles François Marie-Thérèse

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b. 1834 Toulouse, France d. 1907
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French engineer and businessman, inventor of the Lartigue monorail.
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Lartigue worked as a civil engineer in Algeria and while there invented a simple monorail for industrial or agricultural use. It comprised a single rail carried on trestles; vehicles comprised a single wheel with two tubs suspended either side, like panniers. These were pushed or pulled by hand or, occasionally, hauled by mule. Such lines were used in Algerian esparto-grass plantations.
In 1882 he patented a monorail system based on this arrangement, with important improvements: traction was to be mechanical; vehicles were to have two or four wheels and to be able to be coupled together; and the trestles were to have, on each side, a light guide rail upon which horizontal rollers beneath the vehicles would bear. Early in 1883 the Lartigue Railway Construction Company was formed in London and two experimental prototype monorails were subsequently demonstrated in public. One, at the Paris Agricultural Exhibition, had an electric locomotive that was built in two parts, one either side of the rail to maintain balance, hauling small wagons. The other prototype, in London, had a small, steam locomotive with two vertical boilers and was designed by Anatole Mallet. By now Lartigue had become associated with F.B. Behr. Behr was Managing Director of the construction company and of the Listowel \& Ballybunion Railway Company, which obtained an Act of Parliament in 1886 to built a Lartigue monorail railway in the South West of Ireland between those two places. Its further development and successful operation are described in the article on Behr in this volume.
A much less successful attempt to establish a Lartigue monorail railway took place in France, in the départment of Loire. In 1888 the council of the département agreed to a proposal put forward by Lartigue for a 10 1/2 mile (17 km) long monorail between the towns of Feurs and Panissières: the agreement was reached on the casting vote of the Chairman, a contact of Lartigue. A concession was granted to successive companies with which Lartigue was closely involved, but construction of the line was attended by muddle, delay and perhaps fraud, although it was completed sufficiently for trial trains to operate. The locomotive had two horizontal boilers, one either side of the track. But the inspectors of the department found deficiencies in the completeness and probable safety of the railway; when they did eventually agree to opening on a limited scale, the company claimed to have insufficient funds to do so unless monies owed by the department were paid. In the end the concession was forfeited and the line dismantled. More successful was an electrically operated Lartigue mineral line built at mines in the eastern Pyrenees.
It appears to have reused equipment from the electric demonstration line, with modifications, and included gradients as steep as 1 in 12. There was no generating station: descending trains generated the electricity to power ascending ones. This line is said to have operated for at least two years.
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Bibliography
1882, French patent no. 149,301 (monorail system). 1882, British patent no. 2,764 (monorail system).
Further Reading
D.G.Tucker, 1984, "F.B.Behr's development of the Lartigue monorail", Transactions of the Newcomen Society 55 (describes Lartigue and his work).
P.H.Chauffort and J.-L.Largier, 1981, "Le monorail de Feurs à Panissières", Chemin defer régionaux et urbains (magazine of the Fédération des Amis des Chemins de Fer
Secondaires) 164 (in French; describes Lartigue and his work).
PJGR

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

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