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British Industrial History

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Joseph Chaley

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Joseph Chaley (1795 – 15 April 1861) was a French civil engineer and designer of suspension bridges. He was a military medical officer before turning to civil engineering.

He built the Grand Pont Suspendu at Fribourg in 1834, a bold undertaking whose span of 273m was the longest in the world until Charles Ellet Jr.'s 308m span Wheeling Suspension Bridge was opened in 1850. It remained the longest suspension bridge in Europe for 67 years. Chaley had previously worked with Jules Seguin on the Tarascon-Beaucaire Bridge (1828) and also the Chazey-sur-Ain Bridge (1829).

The Fribourg bridge had four main wire cables, each consisting of 1056 wires of 3.08mm diameter. It was replaced in 1923 by a reinforced concrete arch bridge, but a length of cable has been preserved and sectioned.

Chaley's other suspension bridges include the 227m Pont du Gottéron (1840) and a 64m span at Collomby (Switzerland) (1840). He collaborated with Bordillon on the Basse-Chaîne Bridge at Angers, completed in 1839. This bridge collapsed in 1850 killing 226 soldiers, a major setback to wire cable suspension bridge construction in France and beyond.

His 1837 121m suspension bridge at Corbières in Fribourg survives today.

Permission to start work on the Grand Pont Suspendu at Fribourg was granted in June 1830, but work was soon stopped for political reasons. This was fortunate, as the resulting delay allowed Chaley to make design changes in line with improvements proposed by Louis Joseph Vicat.

The above information is largely condensed from the Wikipedia entry and from Tom F. Peters' 'Transitions in Engineering'.[1].

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'Transitions in Engineering' - Guillaume Henri Dufour and the Early 19th Century Cable Supension Bridges' by Tom F. Peters, Birkhauser, 1987