Brunel wearing a top hat
Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806 – 1859) 
Born in Britain Street, Portsmouth.
Robert Howlett (1831 – 1858)



Portsmouth has been home to its fair share of famous and influential people, from the author Charles Dickens to the former Prime Minister, James Callaghan and yet, of all these people, Isambard Kingdom Brunel is perhaps the one whose legacy has had the most profound effect on shaping the society we live in today.

With his exotic name, stove pipe hat, penchant for large cigars and even larger engineering projects Isambard Kingdom Brunel was one of the cornerstones of the Victorian age.  Born in Britain Street, Portsmouth in 1806, Brunel went on to become by far the greatest engineer of his time. 

Through his monumental bridges, hundreds of miles of railway track, impressive tunnels, massive dock works and huge iron steamships, he showed what the technology of his day was truly capable of. 


HMS Warrior in Portsmouth
HMS Warrior
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Wonderstruck Learning


Like his grand projects, the man himself was larger than life.  Two centuries after his birth it seems fitting that his life and work should be celebrated.

This site is designed to give an overview of Brunel’s work and the times he lived in.  It uses HMS Warrior as an example of the technology that Brunel developed and used.  Although he had no direct connection with the Warrior’s construction, a tour of the ship shows how essential the principles that Brunel pioneered were to its design.



Importantly, the site also looks at Brunel’s legacy in modern Portsmouth, still a centre of world class engineering nearly 150 years after his death.

So, in keeping with the motto on Brunel’s signet ring ‘En Avant’ - forward!