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                            Cleopatra's Needle

                                             


First erected in Egypt, by Pharaoh Thotmes 111 around 1500BC. It was a gift to the British people, in 1819 in recognition of Nelson's Victory over the French fleet, at the Battle of the Nile in 1798. Opposite the Victoria Embankment Gardens, on the river front, Cleopatra's Needle is flanked by magnificent bronze lions. The 68 1/2 ft. monolith sits on a pedestal.   The pedestal encloses various momentous objects including: standard foot and pound, a full set of British Empire coins, Bibles in various languages, a railway guide, an almanac, and copies of contemporary newspapers. 
At a dinner held at the home of Edward A. Goodall, several artists were invited including John Dixon the engineer.  Conversation eventually centered on Cleopatra's Needle in Egypt and John Dixon suggested that it be brought to England by private means since the government had estimated that the cost would be too great.  He said that if he had the money he would do it himself.  Shortly thereafter,  Sir Erasmus Wilson the celebrated surgeon and Freemason,  called on John Dixon and offered the money to bring the obelisk over. 

                  The following is taken from the Illustrated London News    March 10, 1877

           This obelisk of ancient Egypt, which has been left lying so long half buried in the sand at Alexandria, is now about to be made an ornament to the city of London. Its removal has been considered a matter of such great expense that the British Government has not felt justified in undertaking it and, had it not been for the private generosity of Dr. Erasmus Wilson, and the ingenuity of the engineer, it would most likely have remained to form the foundations of the new houses leading to the Alexandria Railway Station....

         The consulting engineer is Mr. B. Baker, well known by his connection with the Metropolitan Railway, and the work will be performed by Mr. Dixon. The removal of this obelisk will be accomplished in the following manner: A wrought-iron cylindrical pontoon, 92 feet long and 15 feet in diameter, tapered at each end to a vertical edge, will be its only support in the water. Its draught is 9 feet, and displacement 270 tons. If completely submerged, its power of floatation is equal to 705 tons, and as the weight of the obelisk is
only 150 tons, with 30 tons ballast, it is evident that there is no chance of its foundering. The pontoon is furnished with a series of bulkheads, or diaphragms, which support the obelisk at about every 10 feet, and suitable elastic packing secures it from shocks. The obelisk is 66 feet long over all, and the base (8 feet 6 inches square) will be placed forward, giving great buoyancy to the forepart, as the apex is close to the stern, which will be furnished with a rudder. On top of the pontoon and near its centre, will be placed a small deck house, with steering-wheel in the forepart and accommodation for three men. There is a long narrow hurricane-deck above the steering-room, and a short mast with two small sails surmounts the whole ... The boat will be towed by steamer to London, the sails being merely used for steadying purposes. It is calculated that the roll will not be excessive....       Although the obelisk had to be cut loose during a storm in the bay of Biscay, it was recovered and finally  reached its destination intact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

            There are three plaques attached  to the pedestal that holds the needle. They read:

THIS OBELISK QUARRIED AT SYENE WAS ERECTED AT ON (HELIOPOLIS) BY THE PHAROAH THOTHMES III ABOUT 1500 B.C. LATERAL INSCRIPTIONS WERE ADDED
NEARLY TWO CENTURIES LATER BY RAMESES THE GREAT REMOVED DURING THE GREEK DYNASTY TO ALEXANDRIA THE ROYAL CITY OF CLEOPATRA IT WAS THERE ERECTED IN THE 18TH YEAR OF AUGUSTUS CĂSAR B.C. 12.

THIS OBELISK PROSTRATE FOR CENTURIES ON THE SANDS OF ALEXANDRIA WAS PRESENTED TO THE BRITISH NATION A.D. 1819 BY MAHOMMED ALI VICEROY OF EGYPT A WORTHY MEMORIAL OF  OUR DISTINGUISHED COUNTRYMEN NELSON AND ABERCROMBY  THROUGH THE PATRIOTIC ZEAL OF ERASMUS WILSON F.R.S. 

THIS OBELISK WAS BROUGHT FROM ALEXANDRIA ENCASED IN AN IRON CYLINDER IT WAS ABANDONED DURING A STORM IN THE BAY OF BISCAY RECOVERED AND ERECTED ON THIS SPOT BY JOHN DIXON C.E. IN THE 42ND YEAR OF THE REIGN OF QUEEN VICTORIA 1878.



 

oboat.jpg (10202 bytes)

Drawing from the Illustrated London News