James Henry Greathead
|James Henry Greathead|
James Henry Greathead
6 August 1844|
Grahamstown, South Africa
|Died||21 October 1896
|Significant projects||Tower Subway
Waterloo & City Line
|Significant awards||Elected to the Council of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1884|
Early life 
Greathead was born in Grahamstown, South Africa; of English descent, Greathead's grandfather had emigrated to South Africa in 1820. He was educated at St Andrew's College, Grahamstown, and the Diocesan College private school in Cape Town. After migrating to England in 1859, he completed his education from 1859 to 1863 at the Westbourne Collegiate School, Westbourne Grove. He returned briefly to South Africa before finally moving to London in 1864 to serve a three-year pupillage under the civil engineer Peter W. Barlow, from whom he became acquainted with the shield system of tunnelling. He spent some time (around 1867) as assistant engineer on the Midland Railway between Bedford and London (working with Barlow's brother, William Henry Barlow).
Soon after, in 1869, he rejoined Barlow and they began work on designs for the Tower Subway, only the second tunnel to be driven under the river Thames in central London. Barlow was the engineer for the tunnel and Greathead was in charge of the actual drive. The tunnelling shield for driving the Tower Subway, while designed by Greathead, was inspired by Barlow's ideas for a circular tunnelling shield which he had patented in 1864 and 1868. The shield was named the Barlow-Greathead shield and consisted of an iron cylinder 7 ft 3 in (2.21 m) in diameter fitted with screw jacks which enabled it to be jacked forward. In use, the shield was inched forward as the working face was excavated, while behind it a permanent tunnel lining of cast iron segments was fitted into place, itself an important innovation. Greathead patented many of his improvements including the use of compressed air and forward propulsion by hydraulic jacks, both of which are now standard features of tunnel construction.
He was also a consultant in relation to the construction of the Blackwall Tunnel.
In 1873 Greathead became resident engineer on the Hammersmith extension railway and the Richmond extension of the Metropolitan District Railway, a post which he held for four years. After this he assisted in the preparation of the Regents Canal Railway (1880), the Metropolitan Outer Circle Railway (1881), a new London-Eastbourne line (1883) and in various light railways in Ireland (1884). Also in 1884, Greathead was engaged as engineer on the London (City) & Southwark Subway, later the City & South London Railway (and now part of the Northern Line) which was, when it opened in 1890, the world's first underground electric railway. In 1888, he became joint engineer with Sir Douglas Fox on the Liverpool Overhead Railway and also worked with W.R. Galbraith on the Waterloo & City Railway. His final work was on the Central London Railway with Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker.
- An English Heritage blue plaque marks his home in Barnes, south-west London, 3 St Mary's Grove, where he lived between 1885 and 1889.
- In January 1994 a statue was erected outside the Bank Underground station next to the Royal Exchange in the City of London. It was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of London and is positioned on a plinth which hides a ventilation shaft for the Underground. While Bank Station was being refurbished a section of the Barlow-Greathead shield was discovered in a passageway between the Underground and the Waterloo and City Railway. The section has been painted red and a brass plate erected as a further memorial to his achievements.
- Green, Oliver (2003). The Moving Metropolis: A History of London's Transport Since 1800. Laurence King Publishing. p. 96. ISBN 1-85669-326-0.
- Wallace, Sir Donald Mackenzie, Arthur T. Hadley, & Hugh Chisholm (Chief editors) (1902). "Greathead, James Henry". The New Volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Volume V, forming volume XXIX of the complete work (10th ed.). New York: The Encyclopaedia Britannica Company. p. 90. Retrieved 21 January 2010. Full text at Internet Archive (archive.org)
- West, Graham (2005). Innovation and the Rise of the Tunnelling Industry. Cambridge University Press. pp. 116–118. ISBN 0-521-33512-4.
- "Civil engineers, Architects, etc". Steamindex. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
Further reading 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: James Henry Greathead|
- Cartwright, Rob (September 1997). "James Henry Greathead (1844‑1896) – Tunnelling Pioneer". FOWNC Newsletter No 30. Retrieved 2008-04-30. (Newsletter of the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery, where Greathead is buried)
- Greathead, James Henry (1896). "The City and South London Railway". with some Remarks Upon Subaqueous Tunnelling by Shield and Compressed Air. With an abstract of the discussion upon the paper. London: The Institution of Civil Engineers. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
- "James Henry Greathead". Greathead One name study. Retrieved 2008-04-30. (Family records)
- "James Henry Greathead". Greathead One name study. Retrieved 2008-04-30. (Genealogy)