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JAMES HENRY GREATHEAD (1844–1896)

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Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 399 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JAMES HENRY GREATHEAD (1844–1896), British engineer, was born at Grahamstown, Cape Colony, on the 6th of August 1844. He migrated to England in 1859, and in 1864 was a pupil of P. W. Barlow, from whom he became acquainted with the shield system of tunnelling with which his name is especially associated. Barlow, indeed, had a strong belief in the shield, and was the author of a scheme for facilitating the traffic of London by the construction of underground railways running in cast-iron tubes constructed by its aid. To show what the method could do, it was resolved to make a subway under the Thames near the Tower, but the troubles encountered by Sir M. I. Brunel in the Thames Tunnel, where also a shield was employed, made engineers hesitate to undertake the subway, even though it was of very much smaller dimensions (6 ft. 7 in. 1 Great Falls was a pioneer among the cities of the state in the development of a park system. When the city was first settled its site was a " barren tract of sand, thinly covered with buffalo-grass and patches of sage brush." The first settler, Paris Gibson, of Minneapolis, began the planting of trees, which, though not indigenous, grew well. The city's sidewalks are bordered by strips of lawn, in which there is a row of trees, and the city maintains a large nursery where trees are grown for this purpose. A general state law (1901) placing the parking of cities on a sound financial basis is due very largely to the impulse furnished by Great Falls. See an article, " Great Falls, the Pioneer Park City of Montana," by C. H. Forbes-Lindsay, in the Craftsman for November 1908. internal diameter) than the tunnel. At this juncture Greathead came forward and offered to take up the contract; and he successfully carried it through in 1869 without finding any necessity to resort to the use of compressed air, which Barlow in 1867 had suggested might be employed in water-bearing strata. After this he began to practise on his own account, and mainly divided his time between railway construction and taking out patents for improvements in his shield, and for other inventions such as the " Ejector " fire-hydrant. Early in the 'eighties he began to work in conjunction with a company whose aim was to introduce into London from America the Hallidie system of cable traction, and in 1884 an act of Parliament was obtained authorizing what is now the City & South London Railway-a tube-railway to be worked by cables. This was begun in 1886, and the tunnels were driven by means of the Greathead shield, compressed air being used at those points where water-bearing gravel was encountered. During the progress of the works electrical traction became so far developed as to be superior to cables; the idea of using the latter was therefore abandoned, and when the railway was opened in 1890 it was as an electrical one. Greathead was engaged in two-other important under-ground lines in London-the Waterloo & City and the Central London. He lived to see the tunnels of the former completed under the Thames, but the latter was scarcely begun at the time of his death, which happened at Streatham, in the south of London, on the 21st of October 1896.
End of Article: JAMES HENRY GREATHEAD (1844–1896)
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