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Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Isambard Kingdom Brunel standing against the launching chains of the Great Eastern at Millwall dock, 1857. Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806–1859) was an English engineer, famous for building the Great Western Railway, connecting the west of England with London. For it, he constructed a number of viaducts, tunnels and bridges, many still in use today. Brunel went on to design three great steamships, including the Great Britain (1843), the world's first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship. Brunel's tunnels and bridges were the longest in the world at the time; his ships were the largest and speediest. His designs were engineering marvels of the Victorian Age.



A truss is raised on the Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash, across the River Tamar near Plymouth. Brunel devised the combination of...Read More >>A truss is raised on the Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash, across the River Tamar near Plymouth. Brunel devised the combination of tubular, suspension and truss bridge designs for this crossing in 1855. The railway bridge was opened in 1859.

Brunel as a young man

Early life

Isambard's father, Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (1769–1849), was himself a famous engineer. French by birth, he settled in Britain after the French Revolution and married Englishwoman Sophia Kingdom. Isambard was born on 9th April 1806 in Portsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire. He was sent to school in France and was 16 when he returned to England to work with his father. Marc was building a tunnel under the River Thames from Rotherhithe to Wapping, a project eventually completed in 1843.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Severe flooding in the Thames Tunnel while under construction in 1828 almost killed the young Brunel. He was seriously injured and spent six months recuperating.

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