Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Introducing Queen Sarah

Hopefully you've already read my post about why I name my queen bees.  Today's post is about Queen Sarah, who emerged from her cell sometime before 27th June, and is the queen of the nucleus (the half-sized hive).

Sarah is named after Sarah Guppy, who was was an inventor and engineer.  She was born in Birmingham (as Sarah Beach) in 1770, but moved to Bristol when she married Samuel Guppy in 1795.  She patented a number of domestic inventions, including the fire hood (predecessor to the extractor fan), and a device for a tea urn that would cook eggs in the steam while also keeping toast warm.  I assume that Sarah was a big fan of breakfast...

Possibly her most significant patent was for ‘erecting and constructing bridges and rail-roads without arches or sterlings, whereby the danger of being washed away by floods is avoided’.  It was an improved method of piling for bridges, allowing chains to be passed across the towers to support a road.  Her method was used by both Thomas Telford, for the Menai Suspension Bridge, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, for the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Sarah was a friend of Brunel and became involved in the construction of the Great Western Railway, recommending the planting of willows and poplars on railway embankments to stabilise them.  She had 6 children, and her son Thomas Richard Guppy worked with Brunel on the SS Great Western as well as the Great Western Railway.

Sarah was a notable figure in the Bristol social scene and, as well as her achievements as an inventor, was very involved in social reform and philanthropy.  She founded a charity school for girls, and was also concerned with the welfare of female servants, widows and retired seamen.

Yo can find out more about Sarah Guppy here and here.

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