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The Builder Heritage Journal   | 26 April 1902

Weekly Architecture Journal News - 26 April 1902

Weekly Architecture Journal News - 26 April 1902

The Late M. Dalou

By the death of M. Dalou the world loses one of the greatest and most original sculptors of the day. The peculiar power of Dalou lay perhaps in this, that with a great feeling for decorative line and effect he combined an unusual energy and intensity in the expression of human passion and emotion. Finely modelled as his work always was, there is no cold classicism about it; it is full of the spirit of modern life; as a French correspondent who knew both him and his work well, remarks of him, "il unissait à la fougue de son maitre Carpeaux les qualités décoratives des sculpteurs du XVIIie siěcle."

Occasionally, perhaps, he allowed his desire for forcible expression to carry him into compositions of too violent action to be quite suitable for sculpture, as in his monument in the Luxembourg gardens, "Time Bringing Fame to Delacroix," where the figure of Time rushes up to the terminal bust of the painter, carrying in his arms a nude female representing Fame. There is just a suspicion of the ludicrous in this group, or at least in this way of presenting the idea; but what energy and vivacity there is in its execution; how forcibly it contrasts with the average platitudes of monumental erections. His great work, the "Triumph of the Republic," is in itself worth going to Paris to see; few of the ordinary run of Paris sightseers are acquainted with it, as it stands on a site at the extreme eastern quarter of the city (at the end of the Faubourg St. Antoine); but those who will go out of their way to visit it will find themselves well repaid.

The Liverpool Cathedral Competition

We are officially informed that the Liverpool Cathedral Committee have requested Mr. G. F. Bodley and Mr. Norman Shaw to act as their architectural advisers in the preliminary selection of architects for the final competition for Liverpool Cathedral, and in the ultimate selection of a design for the cathedral. The Committee "feel sure that this intimation will give great satisfaction to the profession, and confidence to the public at large." We rather doubt it. If the idea was to select two assessors representing the Gothic and the Classic school respectively, no doubt Mr. Bodley is an ideal representative of school of modern Gothic church architecture; but Mr. Norman Shaw has had little or nothing to do with church architecture, and we can hardly imagine that competitors in an important church competition would have thought of him as a judge by whose verdict they were willing to stand or fall.

The View from Richmond Hill

It is most satisfactory that the question of the view from Richmond Hill, to which we have more than once referred, should have been settled in a manner desirable in the public interests and in that of Lord Dysart, the owner of the land over which the view extends. Not only is the view effectually preserved, but a large amount of open space is now permanently secured for the public.

Of the Petersham meadows 32 acres are to be vested in the Corporation of Richmond, which, of course, will be retained as an open space for the public enjoyment; 125 acres more, over which there are common rights, is to be vested in the Corporation of Ham; and, out of a total of 314 acres in the Dysart estate, 235 are to become public property. These and other particulars were settled by a select committee of the House of Commons last week, a Bill having been introduced for this purpose by Lord Dysart, with the concurrence of the parties interested and of the Commons Preservation Society.

This result shows what may be done by amicable negotiations between a reasonable private owner and business-like public authorities, and we hope that this Richmond view question will in its result be followed by other instances.

The Supply of Electric Light

An important decision regarding the supply of electric light is reported in the current number of the "Law Reports" in the case of "Husey v. London Electric Supply Corporation." The result of that case is that an electric supply company may make any terms it likes. Under Section 19 of the Electric Lighting Act, 1882, no person within the area supplied with electric current by an electric lighting company is entitled to a supply of current by the company unless and until he has entered into a contract with the company for the purpose.

In the case in question the electric supply company refused to make a fresh contract until a new proprietor of the premises which were previously lighted paid the amounts due by the former proprietor. As a matter of fact, the former proprietor was a hotel company, and the new proprietor a receiver for debenture-holders; but this makes no difference in the principle of the law. The Court, in giving judgment, said that if the company had a legal right to cut off the electric current, the Court has no jurisdiction to interfere by considering what their motive for so doing may be.

It is therefore very easy to see that a good many innocent people may have to pay the debts of other people which have been incurred in respect of electric light, if they wish premises to be continued with the supply in the same manner. We cannot see any reason why the electric supply companies should have more power than an ordinary tradesman, or why the supplier of light should be in a better position than a butcher or a baker.

The James Forrest Lecture

The On the 23rd inst. the tenth "James Forrest" lecture was delivered at the Institution of Civil Engineers by Sir William Roberts-Austen. The title of the lecture was "On Metallurgy in its Relations to Engineering." Commencing with a short historical narrative of the slow progress in the use of metal for constructive purposes by engineers up to the end of the eighteenth century, Sir William said it was reserved for the nineteenth century to witness the triumph of metallurgy as an aid in engineering construction. The history of iron as a constructive material during the nineteenth century may, said the lecturer, be divided into three periods, viz., (1) the earliest portion of the century, when cast and wrought iron came into extensive use; (2) a later period when steel largely replaced cast and wrought iron; and (3) the closing years of the century which witnessed the admixture of other metals, often in very small proportion, to increase the strength of the iron.

Sir William demonstrated that mixtures of salts or of metals when passing from the liquid to the solid state undergo solidification in two stages. The mixture of metals first falls to a temperature at which it appears to become solid, but it nevertheless contains a certain proportion of the mixture in a liquid condition until at a lower temperature the second stage is reached, and the whole mass becomes solid. The portion of the mixture which remains liquid until the lower solidifying or freezing point is reached, is termed an "entectic" mixture; and the lecturer laid great stress upon the importance of the influence exerted by entectic mixtures in iron upon the physical properties and commercial value of the resultant metal.

In conclusion, some interesting microscopical photographs, exhibiting the remarkable changes produced in the molecular structure of solidified metal by changes in the rate of cooling it from the molten condition, were shown upon the lantern screen. The lecture was one of the most admirable of the many noteworthy discourses which have been delivered in Great George-street.

West Australian Timber

In the Colonial Exhibition at the Royal Exchange, London, some interesting specimens of the hard woods of Western Australia may be seen. Some elaborate furniture constructed of Jarrah wood shows the rich colour of this timber and demonstrates that it can take a beautiful polish. The parquetry and inlaid work are admirable. As Jarrah is cheaper than teak, and has been proved to be good fire-resisting timber, it will probably become extensively employed in London for the construction of the doors at least two inches in thickness required in many situations by the London County Council. Among other exhibits is a collection of wood blocks which have been taken up from roads after being in use for several years. These are not of much value as evidence of the durability of the blocks without more precise details of the conditions to which they were subjected. The value of Jarrah and Karri blocks for wood paving is, however, now too well known to require further demonstration.

Another exhibit which attracted much attention is a Jarrah plank, which after being used as a pile, and submerged for over twenty years, has taken a fine polish, and appears as good as a new piece of well-seasoned timber. It is stated that Western Australia contains eight million acres of Jarrah forest, while two million acres are covered with Karri, another useful hard wood. With proper conservation and an intelligent system of replanting, the timber industry of Western Australia should form an important and permanent source of income to the inhabitants of that State.

Marconi's Experiments

Lord Rayleigh, in a course of lectures which he recently gave at the Royal Institution, pointed out the apparently insuperable difficulties which stood in the way of sending wireless signals across the Atlantic owing to the curvature of the earth. In the Electrical World of New York Dr. A. E. Kennelly points out that perhaps this signalling round the world may not be so difficult after all. It is known that very highly rarified air is a conductor for electrical currents, and hence at fifty miles above the earth's surface we have what is practically a sheet of conducting material. The Hertzian waves sent out by Marconi's transmitter travel in straight lines like light waves, and, just as light waves are reflected from a polished surface, so they are reflected from the rarefied strata of air, and hence they spread over the earth's surface in a layer approximately fifty miles thick. This explanation of Dr. Kennelly's seems to us quite satisfactory, and if it is found that the attenuation of the signal varies inversely as the distance instead of inversely as the square of the distance, then we may consider that the existence of an upper reflecting surface for these waves is experimentally verified.

Testing Tramway Motors

The paper by Mr. M. B. Field on "The Testing of Tramway Motors" which was recently read to the Glasgow local section of the Institution of Electrical Engineers is well worthy of study by tramway engineers. The ordinary rough-and-ready methods of testing motors by seeing how they work when placed on a car lead often to most erroneous results. Little variations in the manipulation of the handle of the controller by the motorman make great differences in the energy consumption and on the average speed of the car, and so it is almost impossible to make satisfactory comparative tests by this method.

It is necessary to supplement these experiments in the testing-room, and the testing frame and method of calculation devised by Mr. Field seem well suited for this purpose. If all tramway generating stations tested their motors in one of these frames it would soon lead to uniformity of rating by different manufacturers. At present one manufacturer will rate a motor as 40 h.p., because it can give out this power for a few minutes whilst another would only rate it as 20 h.p. because this is the maximum horsepower that it can safely give out for an hour without damaging the insulation by overheating it.

It is important also in specifying the efficiency of a tramway motor to state the temperature of the coils at which have this efficiency. The resistance of the coils is often 30% more at the end of the hour's run than it was at the beginning and this diminishes the efficiency by 3%. Mr. Field's method of testing motors is a simplified form of Hopkinson's test; one of the motors takes energy from the line and drives the other motor as a generator whose output can be varied. He mentions that when testing motors by running them at a high speed and then short-circuiting them, they not only come rapidly to rest, but make a few revolutions in the reverse direction.

This phenomenon, however, is one well known to electricians, and has been described before. In the appendix are printed many carefully compiled tables, and curves are drawn which show at a glance the efficiencies, speeds, tractive efforts, losses, etc., of a tramway motor. These will be valuable, as they show that considerable economies can be effected by a proper management of the handle of the controller.

Roads in California

The "good roads agitation," which was commenced in the United States ten years or so back, hardly took root in California until the year 1895, when a bureau of highways was created for the period of two years. During the early part of the past century, the prosperity succeeding the Revolution demanded extended means of communication. Ordinary roads were supplemented by toll-roads, frequently built of planks, but generally of earth and gravel. The exaction of tolls became burdensome, and so restricted development that the acquisition of such highways grew to be a public necessity.

Then followed a period in which the desirability of ready transportation was so fully recognised that the United States Congress, and almost all the state and county governments, occupied themselves in the study and practical applicator of the art of roadmaking. Soon after 1535, when roadbuilding, encouraged by governing bodies and entrusted to skilled engineers, became a science, the development of the railway system diverted attention to the new mode of transportation. Thenceforth for generations the making of roads was forgotten to such an extent that people were born and reared who had never seen an ordinary road.

As an American writer has recently said, "They have learned to speak of streaks of dust or mud, as the case may be, as roads—have actually learned to regard them as such, and solemnly dedicate the same to public use, as if they really were well-located, graded, drained, and thoroughly metalled highways."

Under these conditions California was settled, and her road system was but a makeshift at the best. In 1895 the State had reached the limit of development possible with bad roads, and the times were fully ripe for the bureau of highways. After two years of consideration and enquiry, the commissioners of that body recommended (1) the classification of roads into state highways, county thoroughfares and district roads; (2) an Act empowering the state to acquire highways of the first class; (3) an Act regulating the width of tires; (4) an Act creating a Department of Highways; and (5) reduction of taxation.

Of these proposed Acts only one became a law (to take effect from 1900), but it was rendered inoperative at an extra session in 1899-1900 in consequence of opposition from makers of wagons. Of the other proposed Acts, the first was disapproved by the executive, the second was vetoed by the Governor, the fourth was amended for partisan purposes so as to give patronage in state elections, and the fifth was the actual cause of increased instead of reduced taxation.

This seems to be a disheartening record, but it is not all. An Act known as the Clark-road Law was passed as an urgent necessity, but was subsequently declared illegal by the supreme court; another measure for the improvement of roads in the Yosemite Valley district was found to have a defective title, and so failed to receive the signature of the Governor; and yet another road Act, passed by the Legislature in 1897, was declared by the courts to be invalid. A Department of Highways was next created to continue the work provided for by law, but through lack of funds was debarred from executing any important work. From the above recital it seems that law-making has been even less understood in California than road-building.

Seven Dials Mission House, West-street, St. Giles

The new mission buildings opened last week have been erected after the plans and designs of Mr. C. W. Reeves. They occupy the site of the old vestry-house, which had been "condemned" by the authorities, adjoining the Episcopal chapel which formed a scene of John Wesley's labours during the period 1743-1790, as is testified by entries in his diary. The freehold property, covering an area of 4,120 square feet, was bought for 4,500l. in December, 1887, for the purposes of the local mission, removed thither from Short's Gardens. The chapel (originally known as La Pyramide de la Tremblade) and the vestry-house were erected at the end of the seventeenth century for a congregation of Huguenots who had migrated to Newport Market from Weld House, which until 1605 stood on the east side of Great Wild-street. By her will (1726) Mrs. Elizabeth Valmer left a sum of 500l. to be invested in real property and directed that the rents so derived should be distributed yearly amongst twelve poor widows of St. Clement Danes parish. The trustees applied the bequest to the purchase of the chapel and the vestry-house. In 1800 the chapel was added to the establishment, and during some years from 1830 services were conducted there in the Irish language. Wesley's portable pulpit for open-air use, and a water-coloured drawing of the old house, have been preserved as relics. The first floor of the vestry-house contained an apartment of which the three windows opened into the chapel at its north-western end; the apartment, known as the "Nicodemus room," was frequented by those persons who attended the Methodist services whilst desirous that their presence there should not become known.

Turner's House at Twickenham

We learn that this house will be offered for sale at auction before the end of the current month. When in the market five years ago it was purchased, in September, 1897, for, we find, 1,200l, the rental being 65l per annum. Known as Sandycombe Lodge—though Turner himself named it Solus Lodge—and standing near St, Margaret's railway Station, it was built, it is believed, for Turner, and after his own designs, for occupation by him and his father when he quitted his riverside house at West-end, Upper Mall, Chiswick.

The memoir by Mr. R. N. Wornum, in his "Turner Gallery" (1861) states that Turner bought the ground at Twickenham in 1807, and sold the house and garden in 1827; in the meanwhile, he had built, in 1812, the house and picture gallery in Queen Anne-street West, which was pulled down twenty-two years ago, the site, No. 23, being taken for the offices of the Lord Howard de Walden (formerly the Portland) estate, St. Marylebone. Sandycombe Lodge, of which we published an illustration in our number of September 13, 1897, comprises four bedrooms, two dayrooms, and a library, and, with the exception of a bathroom since added, remains as it was in the painter's day; but the view towards the river, whereon he passed much of his time studying and sketching, is now shut in with modern villas.

Mr Briton Riviere's Studies

At the gallery of the Society of Fine Arts are to be seen several sketches and studies of animals by Mr. Briton Riviere, representing the larger part of a collection covering more than thirty years. Many of them are studies for animals in special and well-known pictures; others are studies of various animals that came from time to time under the artist's observation, including also two sheets of red-pencil sketches of animals from memory, which are among the most interesting things in the collection, and show how familiar the artist has become with the movement and character of animals.

Among the larger studies the finest are those of lions, which appear in several attitudes and circumstances, always treated with the greatest force and vigour. Among the finest are the "Lions going to Drink" (16), dark forms walking stealthily through the twilight; the lioness studied for "Daniel's Answer to the King" (18); the lion in "The King's Libation" (51); a very powerful foreshortened drawing of a leopard for the picture of "Aphrodite" (129); and the beautiful, finished study of a lioness, No. 155. Dogs are the next favourites after lions and of them there are many studies. These studies of animals made from the life are in some respects even more interesting than finished pictures, and we were very much surprised to find that the private view of them attracted such a small number of visitors. We have seen the gallery of the Society crowded, even to inconvenience, at exhibitions of far less interest than this one.

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