In Victorian Britain, one man stood out above all others in his field of expertise, destined to be remembered in history as a truly remarkable engineer.
Born on the 9th April 1806 in Portsea, England, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, would leave a legacy of engineering feats that remain in clear evidence to this day, in commemoration of his achievements.
His choice of profession was to be no coincidence, as his father was Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, also an acclaimed engineer of the Industrial Revolution.
Sir Marc Isambard Brunel is most noted for his design and involvement in the construction of the first tunnel under the Thames River in London. The tunnel proved to be a major achievement and is still incorporated into the London Underground network in the twenty-first century.
Isambard Brunel, joined his father in this project, after completing his studies in engineering. In 1928, at the age of eighteen, a tunnel collapse was to nearly claim his life. A section of the wall broke away, allowing the water to infiltrate the tunnel. Isambard sustained internal injuries, but escaped with his life.
Not deterred by this event, history would see his determination achieve several notable advances in the field of engineering.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel dedicated his life, in his seemingly unstoppable romance with groundbreaking designs and construction.
His passion was to be the cause of his death. At the age of fifty-three, Brunel passed away on the 15th September 1859, after a short period of ill-health. Many observers have argued that the stresses associated with his many on-going projects, and his inability to rest contributed to his ill-health, and untimely demise.
Of his achievements he is often remembered for the construction of the Great Western Railway (GWR) linking London with Bristol and the West Country.
Aside from his enthusiasm with ‘steam’ travel, he designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge over the Avon Gorge. Although he submitted his original plans in 1831, it was not completed until after his death in 1864.
Brunel also became fascinated with ship building. He constructed three ships, namely the SS Great Western, the SS Great Britain, and the SS Great Eastern, all defining his visions of the future of ocean travel.
Of the three ships, the SS Great Britain, which was launched in 1843 has been carefully restored and lies in the Bristol Docks, a poignant reminder to the remarkable man himself.