John Speller's Web Pages William Froude

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William Froude (pronounced to rhyme with "food") was the son of the Venerable Robert Hurrell Froude, Archdeacon of Totnes, and the brother of Oxford don and theologian Richard Hurrell Froude, and of Oxford don and historian James Anthony Froude. He obtained a first class honours degree in mathematics at Oriel College, Oxford in 1832, where he was a student of his brother Hurrell and of John Henry (later Cardinal) Newman. Although Froude increasing tended toward agnosticism he remained a lifelong friend of Newman and they carried on a long correspondence. He was a competent chemist and while an undergraduate was well known for providing nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to add life to parties with his friends. After leaving college he was articled as a civil engineer to H. R. Palmer, and in 1838 became an assistant to Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The Kingdom family of Brunel's mother and the Froude family had long been close and Brunel was already a good friend.

Froude was Brunel's Resident Engineer on the Bristol & Exeter Railway between Whiteball Tunnel and Exeter, and was responsible for much of the day-to-day design detail of that section of the railway. While working on it he developed new formulae for calculating the curves of railways and for designing skew bridges, and these were widely used by other engineers of the nineteenth century. In two elliptical-brickwork skew-bridges he introduced taper bricks so arranged as to make correct spiral courses. He also designed four wood truss bridges, two over the Culm and two over the Exe. While in Devon working on the B&ER he introduced iron stringers to prevent the collapse of the lovely medieval roof of the Parish Church in Cullompton and advised them on the rebuilding of their chancel.

In 1844 Froude was working with Brunel on the Wilts, Somerset & Weymouth Railway. He also seems to have helped Brunel engineer the South Devon Atmospheric Railway, and on 5 January 1848 was granted a patent for replacing the troublesome leather flaps on the atmospheric tubes with vulcanized rubber.

While working with Brunel on details of the "Great Eastern" steamship he became fascinated with the subject and for the rest of his life worked as a naval architect and it is for his accomplishments in this area that he is largely remembered today. He was also a Director of the Torbay & Dartmouth Railway.
William Froude, M.A., LL.D., F.R.S. (1810-1879)
The original Exeter Station, like those at Slough, Reading and Taunton, had both the Up and Down buildings on the same side of the tracks
Arrival of the first train at Exeter, Wednesday, 1 May 1844, behind "Firefly" Class 2-2-2 "ActŠon" driven by Sir Daniel Gooch.
Cullompton Station, Bristol & Exeter Railway, in mixed gauge days, circa 1890. To enlarge right click and select "view image"
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