Penarth Dock, South Wales - 150 years - the heritage and legacy  
Penarth Dock, South Wales - the heritage & legacy . . .

Index to Volume Seven - The People - Dock Family Trees - Engineers, Artisans & Doers . . .

Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859)

Isambard Kingdom  Brunel

The following amended text is taken from the obituary published by the Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries 1860. [174]

'Isambard Kingdom Brunel was the only Son of the late Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, whose mechanical genius and originality of conception he largely inherited. Young Brunel was born at Portsmouth, in the year 1806, at the period when his Father was engaged on the block machinery for the Royal Dockyard.

1820 - At 14 he was sent to France to be educated at the Lycée Henri-Quatre in Paris and the University of Caen in Normandy.

1826 - Brunel rose to prominence when, aged 20, he was appointed chief assistant engineer of his father's greatest achievement, the Thames Tunnel, which runs beneath the river between Rotherhithe and Wapping. The first major sub-river tunnel, it succeeded where other attempts had failed, thanks to Marc Brunel's ingenious tunneling shield — the human-powered forerunner of today's mighty tunneling machines — which protected workers from cave-in by placing them within a protective casing.

1829 - Isambard Brunel, London, Civil Engineer, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

In 1833, before the Thames Tunnel was complete, Brunel was appointed chief engineer of the Great Western Railway, one of the wonders of Victorian Britain, running from London to Bristol and later Exeter.

Brunel established his design offices at 17–18 Duke Street, London, and he lived with his family in the rooms above. Robert Pearson Brereton, who became his chief assistant in 1845, was in charge of the office in Brunel's absence, and also took direct responsibility for major projects such as the Royal Albert Bridge as Brunel's health declined.

On 5 July 1836, at Kensington church, he married Mary Elizabeth (1813–1881), the eldest daughter of William Horsley (1774–1858), organist and composer.

Even before the Great Western Railway was opened, Brunel was moving on to his next project: transatlantic shipping. He used his prestige to convince his railway company employers to build the, at the time, by far the largest steamship in the world - The SS Great Western. She was launched on 19 July 1837 and then sailed to London where she was fitted with two side-lever steam engines from the firm of Maudslay, Sons and Field.

1843 - His next ship design was even larger; the SS Great Britain was the first ocean-going ship to have an iron hull and a screw propeller and, when launched in 1843, was the largest vessel afloat.

1843 - While performing a conjuring trick for the amusement of his children, Brunel accidentally inhaled a half-sovereign coin, which became lodged in his windpipe. A special pair of forceps failed to remove it, as did a machine devised by Brunel himself to shake it loose.

Eventually, at the suggestion of Marc Brunel, he was strapped to a board and turned upside-down, and the coin was jerked free. He convalesced by visiting Teignmouth and enjoyed the area so much that he purchased an estate at Watcombe in Torquay, Devon. Here he designed Brunel Manor and its gardens to be his retirement home. Unfortunately he never saw the house or gardens finished, as he died before it was completed.

1845 - How Mr. Brunel has used the Narrow Gauge. - Mr. Brunel was engineer of the Taff Vale Railway, from Merthyr to Cardiff ; it was made a Narrow Gauge Railway at his recommendation - why, he could not remember, before the Oxford and Worcester Committee, in 1845, (see Evidence No. 10,048 to 10,053.) But he thus explained to the Gauge Commissioners some of his reasons : -

3980. Will you state the circumstances which induced you to depart from your more general system in that particular instance ? - 'One of the reasons, I remember, was one which would not influence me now ; but at that time I certainly assumed that the effect of curves was such, that the radius of the curve might be measured in units of Gauge, in which I have since found myself to have been mistaken. Then I expected to have to lay out that line with a succession of curves of small radius, which is the case as the line is laid out ; and I assumed that the Narrow Gauge was better than the Wide Gauge as regards curves. I do not remember whether connexion with any other railways there, or likely to be there, influenced me.' [742] [716]

below - I. K. Brunel - Engineer of the Great Western Railway (1833 - 1856) [481]
I. K. Brunel - Engineer of the Great Western Railway (1833 - 1856)
© 2014 - 2020 - - all rights reserved - web design by Dai the Rat