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British Industrial History

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Claude Louis Marie Henri Navier

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1785 Born 10 February in Dijon, France.

He was the nephew of the respected Professor Emiland Marie Gauthey.

He attended the École Polytechnique and then the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées.

1808 Appointed general engineer of the Ponts et Chaussées. Later, he became divisional inspector.

He then directed the construction of bridges at Choisy, Asnières and Argenteuil.

From 1819 to 1835, he taught the course of applied mechanics at the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées.

Navier visited Britain in 1821 and 1823 to examine suspension bridges. He then wrote a memoir on the subect, followed by a thorough treatise.

1824 Entered the Academy of Sciences.

1826 Vicat designed the Pont des Invalides, a suspension bridge similar to Telford's Menai bridge in its size and its use of wrought iron chains. There were shortcomings in design and construction, aggravated by flooding, and the bridge became unstable. Rather than repairing the damage, it was hastily decided to demolish the bridge. Navier was an advocate of the use of chains for suspension bridges rather than wire cables, and the Invalides problem greatly helped the cause of those who favoured cables, despite the fact that the choice of chain or cable was not key to the problems. Iron wire cables quickly came to be the norm for suspension bridges in France, and by about 1850 more suspension bridges had been built in France than in the rest of the world put together. [1]

1831 Navier became professor of analysis and mechanics at the École Polytechnique, replacing Augustin Louis Cauchy, who had resigned. He was awarded the Legion d'Honneur in 1831.

1836 M. Navier, Member of the Institute of France, Engineer in Chief Roads and Professor in the Polytechnic School, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[2]

Navier is often considered to be the founder of modern structural analysis.

1836 Died on 21 August in Paris.

Much of the above information is condensed from the French Wikipedia entry.

Brief biography here

See 'Navier and the French Suspension Bridge', an excellent concise source of information on Navier and on early suspension bridge development[3]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'A Span of Bridges' by H. J. Hopkins, David & Charles, 1970, pp.210-1, using data from A. A. Jakkula, 1941
  2. 1836 Institution of Civil Engineers
  3. [1] 'Navier and the French Suspension Bridge' by Antoine Picon, Construction History, Vol 4, 1988