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The Life and Work of James Abernethy, C.E., F.R.S.E
Austria, 1866-8

HAVING completed a periodical inspection of the Canal Cavour, early in January, 1866, he proceeded to Vienna at the request of Count Apponyi, the Austrian Ambassador in London, who had invited him to become a member of the Commission, under the presidency of General Baron Scholl, to be appointed to consider and report upon the regulation of the River Danube at that City, and which, subsequently to his visit, he accepted. The Commission consisted of four expert engineers, in addition to Baron Scholl, viz:— Messrs. James Abernethy, of London, G. Hagen, of Berlin, M. Sexauer, of the Grand Duchy of Baden, and A. Tostain, Director General of the Southern Railway of Vienna. All information referring to the improvement of the Danube was given to the Commissioners by the Minister of the Interior, Count Taaffe, in Vienna, where lengthy d’scussions took place later in the year at various meetings, but the opinions of the engineers, not being sufficiently harmonious to admit of signing a joint report, it was dccided that each, independently, should submit his recommendation as to the best method of effecting the improvement of the Danube. This was accordingly done, the London engineer advising the construction of preliminary works in the form of groynes or jetties at an acute angle with the river bank, so as to direct the main current towards the centre of the channel, and generally to lessen curvature. When the bed of the river had become more regular and deeper, as the effect of having made these groynes, to proceed :n the next place, to form fixed or continuous banks. It was further recommended to change the course of the river opposite to the City with a view to facilitating the discharge of flood waters. Extensive embankments were to be raised to protect the city and country in the vicinity from inundation, the material for them being obtained by the excavation from the proposed new channel. Lastly, to construct regulating works at the head of the Donan Canal, so as to supply a fixed and adequate flow at all times without risk of inundation or interference with the navigation between it and the river, a lock for the passage of vessels from the canal into the river, and an additional short canal between the two last mentioned, the estimate for the entire work being given in the report at 2,000,000. In September of the following year, 1868, the accompanying letter from the President of the Commission announced that the report had been favourably accepted :—

To James Abernethy, Civil Engineer,
2, Delahay Street, Westminster, London.

I have the honour to announce to you that His Majesty the Emperor on the 12th of this month graciously consented that the Danube, near Vienna, ought to be regulated after the line proposed by you and M. Sexauer.

With full respect,

Vienna, 18th September, 1868. Major-General.



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