21.8.1841 Wick/UK - 14.7.1913 Ightham/UK
James Richard Bell joined the Indian public works service in 1868. At first employed in the Madras Presidency, he was transferred to the State Railways department of India, in which service he remained until being retired in 1896. He gained a reputation in the construction of bridges, such as the Empress Bridge over Sutlej River, the Muttra Bridge across the Jumna, and the Ferozepur Bridge and the Sher Shah Bridge over Chenab River. He also devised means for training rivers by means of bunds. He further carried out a number of difficult surveys and constructed railways particularly in North Western India and in the Indus Valley. From a strategic viewpoint, the line from Ruk to Bolan was important, giving military access to Kabul, Afghanistan. Bell was a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers from 1879.
In 1887 Bell advanced new proposals for training the Chenab River at Sher Shah where a new bridge was proposed of twenty-seven spans of 50 m, a total of 1.5 km. Under Bell's system the whole river flow was passed through a narrow deep throat the width of which was proportioned to the river discharge in a manner convincingly devised by the inventor. The guide banks, or bunds, were strongly constructed of deposited stone on either side of about the same length as the width of the throat, their ends being curved so as to swing the flow round them and to reduce the severity of any direct attack on their stability. Bell's system was especially applicable to training in localized positions such as the sites for bridge crossings. The Bell system was further developed by a colleague whose researches advanced greatly the science of training alluvial rivers. After fifty years of experience, however, it became apparent that the great cost of maintaining the Bell Bunds in some places hardly justified the savings in bridge length. More recently, methods of river training were intensively studied from model tests carried out in the early 20th century at the Central Research Station, Poona.
Anonymous (1912). James Richard Bell. Minutes Institution of Civil Engineers 196: 356-357. Anonymous (1913). The late Mr. James Richard Bell. Engineering 96: 163.
Bell, J.R. (1881). The Empress Bridge over the Sutlej. Minutes Proc. Institution of Civil Engineers 65: 242-258.
Bell, J.R. (1903). Discussion to The protection works of the Kaisar-i-Hind Bridge over the River Sutlej near Ferozepur. Minutes Proc. Institution of Civil Engineers 154: 26-27.
Bell, J.R. (1907). Bridging and training alluvial rivers. Bengal Engineering College: Calcutta. Norrie, C.M. (1956). James Richard Bell. Bridging the years: 139-140. Arnold: London.

Hydraulicians in Europe 1800-2000 . 2013.

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