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Alfred Henry Neville

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Alfred Henry Neville (c1800-1861) was a British engineer and entrepreneur who did much work on the Continent.

Also known in Italy as Alfredo Enrico Neville, and in Austria as Alfred Heinrich Neville.

Son of Charles Neville.[1]

1832 Married Maxwell Munro (daughter of Gilbert Munro, born c.1778 in Kiltearn, Ross-shire). They were married in France on 12 July. Maxwell's address was given as Neath, and Alfred's as (possibly) Wanstead, Essex. Alfred died in Turin, and his estate passed to his son, Henry Gilbert Munro Neville (of Venice). The Probate notice gave Alfred's address as Milan.[2]

He built several triangular webbed-truss bridges in France and Belgium during the late 1830s and early 1840s. Neville, Nash & Cie, with addresses in Paris and Turin, obtained a French patent for the bridges in 1838, and William Nash obtained a British patent for the same design in 1839.[3]

Neville was responsible for the construction of many iron bridges on the Continent. In 1854 he designed an iron triangular truss footbridge over the Grand Canal in Venice. The bridge was apparently fabricated in England, and survived nearly 80 years.[4]. More illustrations here [5]

His triangular truss design preceded the Warren truss girder bridges, developed about a decade later by James Warren, and widely adopted. Both were based on a series of triangular frames connected at the base and interconnected at the apex by the top chord. The Warren truss was much simpler, Neville's bridges having additional structural members. A drawing of a Neville truss my be seen here[6]. The drawing shows part of a girder assembled from wrought and cast iron components, for a footbridge over the St. Auberville Canal at St. Denis.

1847 'Mr. Neville's Iron Bridge for Railways.
—We have already given an account of the erection of an iron bridge on the system of Mr. Neville, civil engineer, at the Brussels station of the Northern line, and the various experiments made, under the direction of a government commission, to test its solidity. Although the experiments resulted in every respect satisfactorily, the government commissioners, to assure themselves beyond all doubt of the flexibility and strength of the structure, demanded that it should be submitted, for the space of fifteen days, to a continuous and considerable weight. Wagons filled with iron, stone, and . other heavy material, weighing altogether about 20,000 kilogrammes, were therefore placed on the bridge, and should have been removed in the specified time, but in consequence of the indisposition of the president of the commission, they remained there three weeks. This last experiment has not been less successful than those previously made. The bridge did not yield in the slightest degree, although it had to bear this enormous weight eight days longer than the commission had judged necessary. It is stated that the success of this system of railway bridges now beyond doubt, and will be generally adopted in Belgium. The expense of construction falls far short of those now in use.'[7]

1861 June 25th. Died in Italy. Late of Milan. Probate to his son Henry Gilbert Munro Neville of Venice.

Much information about Neville and his work may be found in the 'History of Technology', Volume 11, 1986[8]

The Neville Foundry in Venice

The Privilegiata e Premiata Fonderia Veneta di Enrico Gilberto Neville & C. was described as the leading ironworks in Venice. Having obtained the contract for building the second bridge over the Grand Canal at the Accademia, in 1858 Alfred Neville was persuaded to take over the foundry established by a Swede, Teodor Hasselquist. Under Neville the business expanded to include boilermaking and machining facilities. Alfred's son Gilbert would later take charge of the business. The foundry's production included railings, balustrades, gas lamps, and numerous iron bridges. Seventeen iron bridges were built in Venice between 1850 and 1870, including the Accademia bridge at Campo della Carità (1854) and San Lucia bridge at the station (1858). The company ceased trading after 50 years, and all buildings have been demolished.[9]

A great deal of information about the foundry and its facilities may be found here[10] (in Italian). This includes the fact that Gilbert was born in Essex in 1834.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] 'Structural Iron 1750–1850' edited by R.J.M. Sutherland
  2. [2] Legacies of British Slave-ownership: Gilbert Munro: UCL Department of History 2017. accessed 3rd August 2017
  3. [3] The Evolution of the Warren, or Triangular, Truss, by David Guise, SIA Journal, Vol 32, No. 2
  4. [4] Olia i Klod blog: Ponte dell’Academia
  5. [5] Premier Pont de l’Acadèmie à Vénise: Ponte Neville
  6. [6] 'The History of the Theory of Structures: From Arch Analysis to Computational Mechanics' by Karl-Eugen Kurrer, Ernst & Sohn, 2008, Fig. 2-34.
  7. London Daily News - Tuesday 12 January 1847
  8. [7] History of Technology, Volume 11, 1986, edited by Norman Smith
  9. [8] Arredo & Città: The birth of the iron and steel industry in northern Italy: Artistic Ironwork in Venice: the Neville & C. foundry, 2013
  10. [9] Sergio Barizza: 'La fonderia Neville a San Rocco. Un’industria del ferro a Venezia nella seconda metà dell’Ottocento'. Storia di Venezia website, 2002