Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) was a Mechanical and Civil Engineer of great note and built the Great Western Railway, a number of steamships, dockyards, bridges, viaducts and tunnels.  Brunel was, to say the least, innovative, and had a marked impact on transport and modern engineering.

l_brunelatdeskIsambard Kingdom Brunel at his desk



Click on each of the following links to read about
Mr. Brunel’s remarkable achievements


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I would like to thank Mr. Paul Bland for allowing his photographs to appear here.

I would also like to thank Ms Annie Barnes for her help and consideration and for allowing some of her photographs to appear here.

Finally, I would like to thank Mr. Dominic Rowe of the SS Great Britain Trust for his help and consideration and for allowing some of the Trust’s photographs (credited to Mr. David Noton) to appear here.

12 thoughts on “Isambard Kingdom Brunel

  1. Clair Sedore

    Charles, your material always astounds me, and I had never heard of Isambard Kingdom Brunel before. I now feel fairly informed about this man’s genius. Thank you for such great research material. Since I met you online I have learned so much, not only about theatre, which is my main interest, but about material I did not know I had an interest in, prior you.

    Thanks so much

    1. Charles Post author

      Clair: Thank you very much for your comment. It is most flattering! I am glad that you enjoyed reading the piece and learning about one of the great minds of the Victorian Age (or of any age for that matter). Charles

  2. Peter lane

    Well done Charles, how long did that take? I regularly use, the box and Severn tunnels and often see the wonderful Clifton suspension bridge.
    A piece of his railway bridge over the river lough or is displayed near the new one. I will send you a pic.
    We visited the restored as Great Britain a few years ago

  3. Ray Bridgewater

    Dear Charles, never would I have guessed that as classmatmes together in Sir John Cass Foundation school in Aldgate, London, that you would be producing such interesting and fascinating history on your website. As a chartered engineer I am familiar with Brunel for his engineering feats, but must admit I had no detailed knowledge of his super achievements. Thank you for producing this very valuable piece of history. It is beholden on teachers of engineering to educate future engineers on this great mans skills.
    Thank you and best wishes, Ray

  4. rob humphreys

    Nice interesting piece Charles. While familiar with a couple of bridges I never knew he did so much in his lifetime.

  5. Dave Hill

    Charles, very good! I was familiar with his story. Always made me laugh, the pic of Brunel in front of the chains was reproduced in Brunel students union bar with the Rousseau quote “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains”!

  6. Steve

    Thanks Charles.

    I’m currently enjoying this book:

    which is chock-full of interesting snippets about London and, of course, I.K. Brunel gets a couple of mentions – Hungerford Bridge (chains removed and used on Clifton Suspension Bridge as mentioned in your article) and the sideways launching of the Leviathan (later the Great Eastern) from near Millwall. His father, Marc Brunel, also mentioned in your article, is said to have got the idea of the excavation shield which enabled the Thames Tunnel to be built, from watching a worm nibbling its way through some wood and passing the material along its body and ejecting it at the back. It may be apocryphal, but it’s a good story anyway. He was in a debtor’s prison at the time.

    Good to see images of the S.S. Great Britain. One of the main donors for its restoration was ‘Union Jack’ Hayward, as you point out. He also, virtually single-handedly, rescued my football club, Wolverhampton Wanderers from near-oblivion. He used to watch Wolves as a youngster. The main stand at Molineux is now named after him.



  7. Kenneth Henderson

    Just got around to reading this wonderful article and what a long one it is. It seems that the people of the time considered their railways seriously in that the saw the value of building such wonderful railway termini, an expense they would not do today.

    I have just started a new book(to me) that I borrowed from my council library last week: THE ITALIAN BOY BY Sarah Wise, published 2004. Subtitled: Murder & Grave Robbery in 1830s London. It is full of many sketches from the period. So far it is a very well-written and involved story hovering around Guy’s Hospital, Old Bailey, City Road, the then new Covent Garden and mention of the 100 or so kids who used to bed down at the market every night. At over 300 pages I am going to really enjoy this slice of old London.

  8. Irene Pugh

    Thank you Charles for highlighting the genius and absolute brilliance of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. However, I for one, believe Brunel’s name should have been ahead of Winston S Churchill’s.

  9. Sharron

    A fascinating piece! As an Australian I had no idea about the contributions this extraordinary engineer had made – or, indeed, that the the SS Great Britain had plied the seas between the UK and Australia for such a long time.

  10. Ray Powers

    Charles good day to you. My farther worked on the GWR for 25 years and I loved Padd. I have always been interested in Brunel and you filled in a lot of missing bits for me. A very enjoyable read. I did get you email regarding Langley, did you get my reply?


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