Posted by: secretperson | April 9, 2008

Happy Birthday – Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born 9th April, 1806 in Portsmouth. The son of a French engineer, Brunel is famous for building ships, bridges and railways and was a vital figure in the development of Britain’s modern infrastructure.

He built the Great Western Railway, from London to Bristol, including the world’s longest railway tunnel at the time, the Box Tunnel. If you were there this morning, you may have been able to see the sun shine though, as it is apparently designed to do so on Brunel’s birthday, but as the light you saw may also have been a high speed train, it is not permitted and sensible not to look. Brunel also designed Paddington station on this line.

Brunel constructed a number of ships, including the Great Western and Great Eastern, and the SS Great Britain, the first propellor driven iron steamship. But perhaps his most famous achievements are his bridges such as the Royal Albert Bridge, Maidenhead Railway Bridge and Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

This amazing career was recognised when Brunel was voted second Greatest Britain in a BBC poll, advocated by Jeremy Clarkson, and only beaten by Winston Churchill.

Today, on the anniversary of his birth, we should remember this true giant of a man. Where today can we see such outstanding varied and lasting achievement.

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