Great Exhibition, Prize Medal
Class 7, No. 106, Edwin Clark, 448 West Strand-Producer. Model of the Britannia Bridge, and of the apparatus used in floating and raising the tubes. Scale 1-8th of an inch to the foot. Engineer Robert Stephenson; model executed for Charles Mare Esq. by Mr. Jabez James. exhibited central avenue.
Jabez James was a most interesting character as shown by his biographical details
He served an apprenticeship of seven years (1826-33) to his father, who was a smith and bell-hanger by trade; and as his own support as well as that of the family had in a great measure to depend on his earnings, he had few opportunities of obtaining an education such as he often felt the want of in after-life.
He soon distinguished himself as a clever and intelligent workman, and readily obtained good employment for four years as a journeyman to Mr. R. Miller, to whose business, that of a locksmith and bell-hanger, he succeeded in 1837. As he had great skill in all operations of a delicate and accurate kind, he was soon largely engaged in artistic metal-work and in model-making.
His model of the Britannia Tubular Bridge, which was shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851, was described in the Jurors Reports as 'the perfection of the art of modelling,' and obtained for Mr. James a Prize Medal. On the same occasion his elaborate and beautiful model of the wrought iron bar-chain Suspension-bridge at Kieff, then in course of construction from the designs of the late Mr. C. B. Vignoles, Past-President Inst. C.E., for H. I. M. the Emperor of Russia, attracted great attention among engineers, every detail being executed exactly to scale. These two models were destroyed by the fire at the Crystal Palace; but of the Kieff bridge a duplicate had been made, and is believed to be in the Winter Palace at St. Petersburg.
He was also involved in the paddle-wheel engines of the "Great Eastern" steam-ship. He constructed portions of the metal-work for the Clock Tower and Palace at Westminster, and for several other public buildings; and was also engaged in raising and hanging the bells in the Clock Tower, and in repairing the structure of several cathedrals.
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