Isambard Kingdom Brunel was a nineteenth Century engineer famous for ships, railways and railway architecture
When and Where was he Born?
9th April 1806. Portsmouth, Hampshire, England.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel was the only Son of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, Engineer who had escaped France during the Revolution.
Several English Private Schools and the College of Caen in Normandy and the College Henri Quatre, Paris.
Chronology/Biography of Isambard Kingdom Brunel:
1822: Entered his father’s office. First independent work was on the designs for the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, though this structure was never completed in his lifetime.
1826: Isambard Kingdom Brunel became engineer in charge of the Thames Tunnel in Rotherhithe.
1827: (18th May) The river broke into the tunnel and Brunel made descents in a diving bell to decide how to proceed.
1828: (12th January) A second flooding of the tunnel left him injured trying to save the lives of several of the workmen. Further work was halted for seven years due to financial difficulties.
1830: Wins second Clifton Suspension Bridge competition. Present at the Rainhill Trials where George Stephenson’s locomotive “Rocket” wins. This inspires him to build railways and in a bid to gain speed he designs a broad gauge track (7 feet) in the “battle of the gauges” with Stephenson’s standard gauge of 4 feet 8 inches. He is elected a member of the Royal Society.
1831: Construction work begins for crossing the Avon gorge at Clifton.
1833: Isambard Kingdom Brunel appointed engineer of the Great Western Railway Company and laid out the route in the controversial 7-Foot Gauge. Brunel designed Paddington Station, London, and Bristol Temple Meads. He also engineered many tunnels including the Box Tunnel outside Bath and a series of bridges.
1837: Launching of the SS “Great Western” steamship which was intended for the Atlantic crossing.
1841: Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s railway line between London and Bristol was opened.
1843: Opening of the Thames tunnel and the launching of the SS “Great Britain.”
1844: Introduced a system of pneumatic propulsion on the South Devon Railway which by his own admission was a failure.
1845: Built the Hungerford Suspension Bridge. (The chain links were later used at Clifton).
1848: Work started on the bridge at Saltash, near Plymouth.
1852: Opening of the railway bridge at Chepstow.
1854: Designed a large floating barge to take heavy guns needed in the Crimean War.
1855: Isambard Kingdom Brunel worked on designs to build prefabricated hospitals for the war in the Crimea.
1858: Launching of the SS “Great Eastern” ship.
1859: Completion of the Royal Albert Bridge crossing the River Tamar which linked the railway lines between Devon and Cornwall.
1836: To Mary Horsley.
When and Where did he Die?
15th September 1859. Westminster, London, England.
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
Kensal Green Cemetery, Kensal Green, London, England.
Places of Interest:
SS Great Britain Ship Museum, Bristol.
Temple Meads Railway Station, Bristol.
Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol.
Bath Railway Station.
Royal Albert Railway Bridge, Saltash, near Plymouth.
Didcot Railway Centre.
STEAM, the Museum of the Great Western Railway, Swindon
Railway Bridge, Chepstow.