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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/343

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ADDRESS BEFORE BRITISH ASSOCIATION

ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT TO THE ENGINEERING SECTION OF THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE[1]
By SILVANUS P. THOMPSON, Sc.D., F.R.S.,

PAST PRESIDENT OF THE INSTITUTION OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEERS

IT would be impossible for any assembly of engineers to meet in annual gathering at the present time without some reference to the severe loss which the profession has so recently sustained by the death of Sir Benjamin Baker. Born in 1840, he had attained while still a comparatively young man to a position in the front rank of constructive engineers. His contributions to science cover a considerable range, but were chiefly concerned with the strength of materials, into which he made valuable investigations, and with engineering structures generally. His name will doubtless be chiefly associated with the building of great bridges, to the theory of which he contributed an important memoir entitled "A Theoretical Investigation into the Most Advantageous System of Constructing Bridges of Great Span." In this work he set forth the theory of the cantilever bridge. Upon the plan there laid down he built the Forth Bridge, besides many other large bridges in various parts of the world. With that memorable structure, completed in 1890, his name will ever be associated; but he will be remembered henceforth also as the engineer who was responsible for the great dam across the Nile at Assouan, a work which promises to have an influence for all time upon the fortunes of Egypt and upon the prosperity of its population. Sir Benjamin Baker was, moreover, closely associated with the internal railways of London, both in the early days of the Metropolitan Railway and in the later developments of the deep-level tubes. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1890, became president of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1895, and was a member of council of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, besides being an active member of the Royal Institution and of the British Association. He was also a member of the council of the Royal Society at the time of his death. He enjoyed many honorary distinctions, including degrees conferred by the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh. In 1890 there was conferred upon him the title of K.C.M.G., and in 1902 that of K.C.B.


  1. Leicester, 1907. The address concluded with a section on the education of engineers.