1950-, Civil Engineering, The Wave Model

After an enjoyable few months working for the consultant in my first job, doing small designs and some minor site work, I saw a job advertised at about fifty pounds more, an increase of twenty percent, which could not be ignored, money rather than the style of job or its future prospects was paramount. In the case of the Consultancy I was their first assistant engineer as they had only just set up. If I had stayed I might well have grown to be a partner in one of the largest consultancies in Ireland but enough to eat is a greater spur to moving on.
I was appointed and for a year I worked as a Ministry Man on hydraulic models.
THE WAVE MODELThis work was absolutely fascinating in that, hidden away in the basement I was in a world all my own, I came and went as I pleased and no one worried me, but above all I was both learning at a hectic pace and at the same time my innovative faculties were being taxed for the first time. I was designing wave height gauges, I was applying stroboscopic, photographic analysis, and implementing much which I was reading up.
The models were scale models of two harbours in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately they were not siltation models, which they should have been, but as wave models they did provide some information. The harbours had been giving trouble to the fishermen in storm conditions, when they found it difficult to enter the harbours. Recordings of wave heights within the harbours and at sea in the vicinity of the them, had been taken over years, and related to tide level and wind direction. The beaches had been surveyed in the region of the harbours as well. Eric had started the first model and I took over from him. In the second case I started from scratch. The routine was to make the model to scale, flood it in the tank and then generate waves from different directions to ensure that the waves within all the parts of the harbours, as well as at sea, equated with the conditions surveyed in any given storm. It was only then, when we were sure the model was an exact scale model of the real thing and would react to modification as the harbour itself would in due course, that we were able to start modifying the model to reduce the inner wave heights under all circumstances of wind and tide.
We then set about modifying the structures and even adding things like moles, until the best design was achieved, by predicting still water in the inner harbour and a great reduction in wave height within the outer harbour.

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