Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859)

Posted on April 08, 2016 by Andrew Kershman

Victoria Embankment, Temple Section, WC2

Sculptor Baron Carlo Marochetti / Pedestal & Surround Norman Shaw, Bronze, 1877

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born with engineering in his blood, being the son of the famous French emigré engineer Marc Isambard Brunel. After a thorough scientific education, Isambard began work with his father on the ambitious Wapping to Rotherhithe Tunnel which encountered many problems and was only completed in 1843. Isambard won the competition to design the Clifton Suspension Bridge and soon after was appointed the chief engineer of the Great Western Railway, revolutionising rail travel with viaducts, bridges and wider gauge track which greatly increased the speed of rail travel. At the London end of the Western line he was given the task of designing a new station to rival that of Euston. Brunel’s work can still be seen today in the vast glass edifice of Paddington Station.

Among his other achievements were the design of a prefabricated 1,000 bed hospital for the Crimea and the design and building of three ships between 1837 and 1859, each larger and more revolutionary than the last. The construction of the last ship – The Great Eastern – on the banks of the Thames was fraught with financial and technical risks and the stress involved contributed to Brunel’s fatal stroke on the ship’s deck within days of its launch. Brunel’s engineering achievements are some of the greatest of the Victorian era, the most impressive being the Clifton Suspension Bridge which was completed to Brunel’s design after his death.

This monument is one of over 200 featured in the latest edition of                      London's Monuments.

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