Peter W. Barlow

Peter William Barlow (1 February 1809-19 May 1885) was an English civil engineer, born at Woolwich, particularly associated with bridges (he designed the first Lambeth Bridge, a crossing of the River Thames in London), the design of tunnels and the development of tunnelling techniques, namely his patent in 1864 for the cylindrical tunnelling shield used by James Greathead in the construction of his tunnel under the Thames. This was an improvement upon the original tunnelling shield designed and patented by Marc Isambard Brunel in 1818. The shield prevented the newly dug tunnel from collapsing before it could be lined with cast-iron segments.

He was the son of an engineer and mathematician, professor Peter Barlow of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. His brother William Henry Barlow was a noted 19th century railway engineer.

While designing the piers of Lambeth Bridge (a suspension bridge design since replaced by the current structure) in 1862, Peter W. Barlow experimented with driving iron cylinders into the clay upon which much of central and north London sits. It was this experience that prepared him to work with James Henry Greathead on the development of a tunnelling shield to dig the Tower Subway in 1870.

From 1859 to 1867, Barlow lived at No 8 The Paragon, Blackheath, London. [ Rhind, N. (1983) "Blackheath Village & Environs, 1790-1970, Vol. 2" (Bookshop Blackheath, London)]

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