BRUNEL, Isambard Kingdom, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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BRUNEL, Isambard Kingdom (1806-1859). Civil engineer.
Fine series of 7 Autograph Letters Signed & 1 Letter Signed to Daniel Gooch, locomotive superintendent of the Great Western Railway, 20 pages 8vo, 1854-1858. Apparently the only known letters from Brunel to Gooch to have appeared on the market in the last thirty years. In a cloth folding case gilt lettered to the spine: 'Letters Isambard Kingdom Brunel'.
The letters, each addressed at the end or at the foot of the first page 'D. Gooch Esq' (with the addition of 'Paddington' in the case of the undated letter), are largely concerned with engineering matters relating to the Great Western Railway, and as such are a remarkable and unusual series to Brunel's closest colleague and collaborator in one of his greatest undertakings.
'I have to be tonight after the down mail - in the 96th mile on the Brimscombe incline and it is undesirable to stop the down mail - I therefore want to have an engineer at Swindon to start immediately after arrival of the down mail at Swindon drop me at the ? I want and go on to Brimscombe and return with or after the up mail - as to their part of the arrangement however I leave you to determine what is best. I only want an engineer to be ready to start with me from Swindon on the arrival of the down mail - and to drop me at the 96th mile - that is almost immediately after the two mail trains have past - we shall pull up the line - my engineer must either return immediately after the up mail - or stop on the gloster [sic]side of the place till Sunday evening.' [11 March 1854 - Brimscombe is close to Stroud and near the northern entrance of the Sapperton tunnel (opened in 1845).]
'I ... had an opportunity of examining the adhesion wheel of the Amazon - and am of opinion that the experiment has been so far successfull [sic] that we ought decidedly to apply it more extensively - there ought to be one on each side - and the section of the tyre must be more rounded like a rail. I think we ought immediately to have two or three of our engines fitted up completely & efficiently with it and put it into use. My hope and expectation is that we may now attempt a larger boiler and cylinders - and that we may get some more powerful express engines - till we get accustomed to the coupling rods. ...' [30 December 1854]
'I receive now as formerly from your office a copy of the fortnightly abstract of locomotive working expenses but they reach me three or four months after date which must diminish their value as in the majority of cases that we request such registers it is with reference to more recent circumstances. ... How many copies are there made - and when is the first made out? I will then judge whether it is worth the expense of making one all for me. ...' [2 July 1855]
'I find that the water arrangements on [the] Oxford to Leamington which by ?Stanley was wanted in such a hurry are not yet completed and that some alteration has been made or is making by ?Stothern from the plans I have given - to prevent confusion I write to say that I have taken it in hand myself.' [12 October 1855]
'The steam pressure of the little donkey engines ... does not seem to me nearly enough in proportion to the pumps. - and on trial they will not work above 40 atmosphere(.) What do you consider them practically these pumps ought to be able to throw(?) each sh[oul]d be ample for the boiler.' [17 October 1857]
On 20 May 1858 Brunel writes to Gooch asking to see him 'before I leave England' [he travelled with his wife, Mary, to Vichy and Switzerland in the hope of recovering his health after the traumas of the launching of the Great Eastern]:
'... I leave in the afternoon for Folkestone. Can you direct the bearer where to find Gibson?'
'Will you have the goodness to have a trial made of the oil ... I want it fully tryed.' ['July third', no year]

[No: 23647]

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