Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/567

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THE NILE DAMS AND RESERVOIR.

'Pharaoh's bed' have been either carried on steel girders or underpinned down to rock, or, failing that, to the present saturation level. It need hardly be said that, having regard to the shattered condition of the columns and entablatures, the friability of the stone, and the running sand foundation, the process of underpinning was an exceptionally difficult and anxious task. There were few men to whom I would have entrusted the task, but amongst those was Mat Talbot—one of the well-known Talbots who have done such splendid service as non-commissioned officers in the army of workmen employed by contractors during the past forty years; and well has he justified his reputation at home where his last job was the most difficult part of the Central London Railway and the commendation of Dr. Ball, who had charge of the works at Philæ.

It would be invidious to single out for special acknowledgment the services of members of a staff, where all have enthusiastically done their best for the accomplishment of the great work projected and patiently persisted in against all opposition, by Lord Cromer and his trusty lieutenant, Sir William Garstin, Under Secretary of State for Public Works. The successive Director-Generals of the Reservoirs were Mr. Willcocks, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Webb; the chief engineers at Aswân, Mr. Fitzmaurice and Mr. May, and at Asyût, Mr. Stephens. The almost unprecedented labor and anxiety of arranging all the practical contractors' details of supply of labor, materials, and execution of the work fell upon the shoulders of Mr. Blue, except as regards Asyût, where Mr. McClure relieved him of a part of his responsibility.

As regards the initial stages of the project, I may say that when the Egyptian Government informed me that they wanted the works carried out for a lump sum, and no payment to be made to the contractor until the works were completed, I felt it would be idle to invite tenders until some arrangement had been made as to finance. As in other cases of doubt and difficulty, therefore, I went to my friend, Sir Ernest Cassel, and the difficulties vanished. The way was then clear for getting offers for the work. Sir John Aird and Co. were the successful competitors, and they have completed a largely increased quantity of work in less than the contract time, to the entire satisfaction of the Egyptian Government and of every one with whom they have been associated. The same recognition is due to Messrs. Ransomes and Rapier, and their able engineer and manager, Mr. Wilfred Stokes, who was unexpectedly called upon to complete all the complicated machinery of the sluices and gates in one year under the contract time, and did it.