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Charles Blacker Vignoles, the Irish picturesque, and the unbuilt military railway to Berehaven, 1836-38
chapterposted on 2016-01-04, 15:52 authored by Richard J. Butler
Charles Blacker Vignoles (1793-1875) rose early – well before dawn – on the morning of Friday, 16 December 1836, from his lodgings in Bantry, Co. Cork. Before lunch he had surveyed no fewer than three mountain passes. His mission was a grand and romantic one: to find the best route for a major railway that would connect London with New York, via Holyhead, Dublin, and a good harbour on the western seaboard of Ireland. He had claimed before a House of Commons inquiry in 1835 that Ireland, his native country, could ‘become the great highway of nations from the Old to the New World – the thoroughfare between the two hemispheres’.2 His proposed railway to Berehaven, had it been built, would have called for engineering structures of an unparalleled scale and ambition – for its time the highest railway bridge in the world, and the longest and tallest bridge across open sea. Furthermore, Vignoles conceived of his proposed great feats of engineering as works of art that would take their place in the rural picturesque landscape of the mountainous regions of west Cork. Using a wealth of primary sources this essay will tell, for the first time, the full story of Ireland’s most extraordinary unbuilt railway.
CitationNarkiewicz, F;NicGhabhann, N;O’Donovan, D, Charles Blacker Vignoles, the Irish picturesque, and the unbuilt military railway to Berehaven, 1836-38, 'Mapping new territories in art and architectural history: essays in honour of Roger Stalley', 2018, Brepols N.V.
Author affiliation/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of History
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