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British Industrial History

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James Law Lushington Morant

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Major James Law Lushington Morant (c1840-1886)

Born in Belgaum, India

1886 Obituary [1]

MAJOR AND BREVET LIEUT.-COLONEL JAMES LAW LUSHINGTON MORANT, R.E., obtained his commission as Lieutenant on the 10th of June, 1859, was promoted Captain on the 14th of January, 1871, and Major on the 22nd of August, 1877, receiving his brevet rank as usual seven years later.

The son of a Madras Army Chaplain, he naturally selected that Presidency as his sphere of work. Here he was posted to do duty with the Sappers and Miners in January, 1862. But his first employment on civil duties was in Bombay, where great activity prevailed in the Public Works Department, under the energetic rule of Sir Bartle Frere, who insisted on the appropriation for local purposes of a portion of the Foreign on the inner side. The width at the top was 33 feet at a height of 8 feet above the water. Four rows of concrete blocks were laid at this level, the blocks (of 350 cubic feet each) being formed ‘in situ’, laid as headers, the spaces between them being filled in with concrete and rubble.

The Author then describes the method of carrying out the works. The stone was quarried from a neighbouring hill, and conveyed on a line of railway laid down for the purpose on a gradient of 1 in 21. The loaded wagons, after being braked down this incline, were drawn to their destination by engines weighing 15 tons, and drawn back to the quarries by the same engines. Three systems of quarrying were adopted : the first, that of blasting large masses by means of mines charged with from 3,000 to 10,000 lbs. of powder, with the result that from 2 to 2.65 cubic metres of stone were got per kilogram of powder used. The second method was that of drilling 24 or 3-inch holes at a distance of 30 to 40 feet from the face of the rock, to a depth of 50 feet. Chambers were then formed at the lower ends of these holes, by exploding in them successive charges of powder, beginning with a charge of 1 lb., followed by 6, 25, 88, and 330 lbs. When a sufficient cavity had been formed, a charge of about 3,000 lbs. was introduced, and great masses of rock were thus blown down. The cost of labour was small, and from 3 to 4 cubic metres of stone were obtained per kilogram of powder. Powder was used in preference to dynamite, as it was found more suitable to the nature of the rock. In the third method no explosives were used ; the rock was cut and got out by means of picks, wedges, and levers, blocks of over 8 tons being readily obtained with very little waste. The stone was all delivered on to the breakwater by rail, and a, statement is given of the comparative advantages of this system and of that of carrying it out in boats. Throughout the progress of the works, delay and heavy expenditure has been caused by litigation between the authorities and the contractors, and the latter appear always to have got the best of it. W. H. T.

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