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British Industrial History

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Bahia and San Francisco Railway

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of Brazil

1854 Charles Vignoles made the first surveys of the Bahia and San Francisco Railway in Brazil,

1857 Works started on the line; Mr. Vignoles was the Engineer-in-Chief.

1859 Report. 'Blackburnians in the Brazils,- An esteemed correspondent has favoured us with an account he has received from Mr. John Watson, C.E., of London, contractor for the works of the Bahia and San Francisco Railway, of the proceedings which took place upon the visit of the Emperor and Empress of the Brazils to inspect the works. Our correspondent thinks the account will be read with interest, as Mr. John Watson, C.E., the contractor of the works, is a native of this town, Mr. Wilson, one of his principal assistants, was formerly borough surveyor, and a son of Mr. Charles Tiplady is engaged under Mr. Wilson. Mr. Watson s letter was written on board the Oneida, off Lisbon, on his homeward passage, and he says:- On the 7th of October the Emperor and Empress, with a numerous suite accompanied by five steamers of war, arrived at Bahia, where they were received with much state. The city was brilliantly illuminated in the evening in honour of their Majesty's visit. The Emperor went over all the public works, taking in his tour the chief towns and places of note, and amongst others the celebrated falls of St. Paulo Alphonso, the next largest waterfall after Niagara. On the 31st he rode over the first section of the Bahia and San Francisco Railway, accompanied by Mr. Lane, the engineer in chief to the Imperial Government Captain Vignoles, the company's engineer, Mr. Watson, the contractor, and his staff of assistants. The Emperor, also accompanied by his suite, inspected the government roads, also contracted for by Mr. Watson going over the entire length, about twenty English miles, and was pleased to express himself quite satisfied with all that he had seen. One of the tunnels on the railway was brilliantly lighted, and the English workmen engaged in it gave his Majesty a right hearty welcome in John Bull fashion. The Emperor was evidently pleased, and remarked it was the first tunnel he had ever gone through. On the summit of another tunnel a grand dejeuner was prepared. The solid character of the various works appeared to strike his Majesty very forcibly, and he very often expressed himself gratified with his visit.'

1861 Construction completed

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