Isambard Kingdom Brunel: The Man and His Work

Plaque at Brunels birthplace
Plaque commemorating Brunel’s
birthplace in Britain Street, Portsmouth.
Wonderstruck Learning

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was a uniquely fascinating individual.  Born in Portsmouth in 1806, the son of the French engineer, Marc Brunel, his first achievement of note was his contribution, at the age of just 19, to the planning of the Thames Tunnel between Rotherhithe and Wapping.  From then on there was no stopping him and he went on to become the central figure in Victorian engineering and a true powerhouse of his age.

.Brunel is probably best remembered for his work on the Great Western Railway, constructing bridges, viaducts and tunnels across the whole of the West of England. But he didn’t stop there, and even without his work on the railways Brunel would still be remembered as a huge figure in the development of steam powered shipping.

The Great Western, launched in 1837 was the first steamship to run a transatlantic service. The Great Britain, launched in 1843, was the world’s first iron-hulled, propeller driven steam passenger liner. The Great Eastern, launched in 1859 was by far the biggest ship ever built up to that time.

Brunel was also responsible for redesigning and rebuilding many of Britain’s great docks. These included Bristol, Cardiff and Milford Haven.

 

Attempting to launch the Great Eastern
Attempting to launch the SS Great
Eastern at the Isle of Dogs in 1858
Wikipedia
The Great Western, launched in 1837 was the first steamship to run a transatlantic service. The Great Britain, launched in 1843, was the world’s first iron-hulled, propeller driven steam passenger liner. The Great Eastern, launched in 1859 was by far the biggest ship ever built up to that time.

Brunel was also responsible for redesigning and rebuilding many of Britain’s great docks. These included Bristol, Cardiff and Milford Haven.

 

 

 

 

Royal Albert Bridge
Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge
over the Tamar at Saltash.
Owen Dunn
Bridges were another speciality. His last completed project was the innovative bridge over the Tamar at Saltash. Shortly after its completion in 1859 Isambard Kingdom Brunel died, aged just 53.

You can find out more about the life and work of Isambard Kingdom Brunel by clicking on the links below. These resources are in PDF format.