Alexander Meadows Rendel

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Alexander Meadows Rendel, Sir (1829-1918) was a civil engineer and a Consulting Engineer to the East Indian Railway Company

In 1857-1858 he visited India, and was consulting engineer to the India Office, the East India Railway(EIR) and other Indian railways, and, in 1870, was a member of the Commission to determine narrow gauge railways for Indian Railways. He designed the Lansdowne Bridge Rohri at Sukkur over the Indus River, which when it was completed in 1889 was the largest cantilever bridge in the world. The climax of his bridge-building career was considered to be the Howrah or Jubilee Bridge allowing trains to cross the Hooghly River near Calcutta; this was opened by the Viceroy on 21 February 1887 [1][2]

Railway Achievements In India

  • Naini Bridge. The location of the bridge between Naini and Allahabad had been decided as early as 1855. Rendel was engaged as the designer.The actual work began in 1859 and the bridge was opened for public on August 15, 1865. It comprises 14 spans of 200 feet and two of 60 feet[3].
  • Alexandra Bridge 1871-72: The designs for the bridges were settled for the Punjab Northern State Railway(PNSR) the first attempt of railway construction under the newly formed Public Works Department - Railway Branch. Alexander Meadows Rendel was the designer based on metre gauge(MG)in accordance with instructions furnished to him, and constructed by Messrs. Westwood, Baillie, and Co. The reversal of policy finally resulted in a return to the broad gauge(BG) of 5 feet 6 inches and required redesign.
  • Empress Bridge also designed by Rendel for the Indus Valley State Railway(IVSR) based on metre gauge(MG) and subsequent redesign to broad gauge(BG)
  • Lansdowne Bridge. Between 1872 and 1882 bridge surveys were conducted and different people suggested 5 different bridge proposals. None of them was considered completely feasible at that time. The engineer Rendel was then called in and he proposed a design consisting of two anchored cantilevers, each 310 feet long, carrying a suspended span of 200 ft in the middle. Interestingly, this design was considered feasible and later came to be known as the Lansdowne Bridge. Construction started in 1887 and when it was completed in 1889 was the largest cantilever bridge in the world. The bridge provided the railway link between Lahore, in the heart of the granary of British India, and the port of Karachi on the Arabian Sea [4].
  • Jubilee Bridge. The climax of his bridge-building career was considered to be the Jubilee Bridge at Howrah allowing trains to cross the Hooghly River to Calcutta. The Bridge was designed by Alexander Meadows Rendel, Consulant Engineer for EIR and Bradford Leslie, EIR Chief Engineer. The construction started in 1882 and was completed in 1887. The Chief Engineer in charge of construction works was Lt Col Arthur John Barry. The Jubilee Bridge was opened on 16 February 1887 in the fiftieth or jubilee year of the reign of Queen Victoria [5].
  • Upper Sone Bridge, Dehri. He was the EIR Consulting Engineer [6] and was responsible for the construction of the Upper Sone Bridge which comenced in 1896 and was completed in 1900 [7]. Frederick Palmer was the EIR District Engineer on surveys and construction who was responsible for the construction of the line and the Sone Bridge of ninety-six 100-ft. spans-the longest bridge in India [8].
  • Hardinge Bridge. The Consult'ing Engineer in London was Sir Alexander Meadows Rendel with Frederick Ewart Robertson an active partner in that firm who was resposible for the designs for the steelwork of perhaps the most difficult bridge yet undertaken, at Sara over the Lower Ganges. The construction of the bridge started in 1910 and completed c.1912. The line, which opened to traffic in 1915, became the Hardinge Bridge [9].

References