There used to be a fantastic book in the local library called 'Victorian Engineering' and it had many full plate photographs of machines, buildings, bridges, canal locks etc and what always struck me as a young fella was the use of curves, arches and 'unneeded' decoration in all.
Everything seemed to be a work of art tat not only looked right but looked beautiful as well.
I know - I hate how everything in the modern world has been "value-engineered" such that there's no room for beauty.
The 1880 hand-cranked apple-peeler that we still use is a thing of beauty; many castings, even freakin' hearts in the main gear wheel for spokes. Our modern equivalent looks like it wouldn't last ten years. We've got a cider press as well; heavy iron castings; looks like it will last a thousand years.
The curves served a purpose. With cast iron being brittle the curves gave just enough give to prevent things from breaking. This was from the moment it was cast because even the cooling process set up stresses. With steel the material is elastic enough you can make everything straight and let the steel take the strain. It might warp but it is unlikely to just snap.
I found two books on eBay, Victorian Engineering by LTC Rolt and Victorian Engineering and Science by Anthony Wilson so I ordered both (used) for $15 and change. I hope one of these is the book you mentioned. I just also found (and ordered) another called "Wonders of Victorian Engineering: An Illustrated E... by Andrews" and another I may 0rder as well.
I also highly recommend reading books on such subjects of The Great Eastern (ship) and the Brooklyn Bridge, two of the most fascinating Victorian era engineering feats I've read up on.
Another fascinating subject is the accurate re-creation of a 150 hp Case steam traction engine by a young man who obtained copies of the original prints from Case and spent a million and a half dollars and thousands of man hours building a replica so accurate that it has some of the same problems as the originals (of which none of the nine originals survive). It is scheduled to be at the Tri-State Antique Engine & Threshers Assn. in Bird City, Kansas from July 29-31 this year. It's a show I've been associated with for decades and I'm really looking forward to seeing that engine run. There are you-tube videos of it. Its HUGE! I understand it to cost over $18,000 to get it there and home! I'm involved mostly in the letterpress print shop and somewhat in the blacksmith shop. I have one of my Linotypes in the print shop which is running (usually) to demonstrate that technology.
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