SAMUDA, JOSEPH D'AGUILAR


SAMUDA, JOSEPH D'AGUILAR (1813–1885), British shipbuilder and railway pioneer. Born in London to Sephardi parents – his father was a broker and overseas merchant – Samuda became an engineer in partnership with his brother JACOB (1811–1844). From 1832 to 1848 Samuda Brothers, their firm, were leading builders of marine engines and, from the early 1840s, leading iron shipbuilders, especially for the Royal Navy, responsible for many engineering innovations. Samuda was vice president of the Institution of Naval Architects and, from 1865 to 1880, served as a Liberal member of Parliament. He is best remembered, however, as a pioneer with his brother of "atmospheric railways," engineless trains propelled by creating a vacuum in front of the train in a pneumatic tube adjacent to the track. The Samuda brothers patented this invention in 1839. Although some examples of "atmospheric railways" were built by the Samudas and others, especially a route they constructed in south Devon in the early 1840s, the technology simply did not exist at the time for these to work on a regular basis, and steam-driven trains remained unchallenged for many decades.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

ODNB online.

[William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]


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