Isambard Kingdom Brunel

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Brunel also found time to design the suspension bridge over the Avon gorge at Bristol and create the first iron steam ship. We continue to benefit hugely from Brunel's work and vision, even if his projects tended to over-run in time and cost and occasionally didn't work out as intended. So, what might Brunel think of the debate about HS2? If things go to plan, it will reach Manchester by — just miles in 18 years.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel - Top 5 Facts

Compare this with the high-speed railway between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore miles in 90 minutes recently approved by the Malaysian government for completion by Singapore's infrastructure investment is 30 times per head of population more than that of the UK. It is not as if Singapore does not already have a very good transport infrastructure compared with the UK's; rather, Singapore is investing to become a leading global business hub, which will be at the expense of the West.

Even more impressive is Johannesburg, South Africa, where the road network is better than we have around any UK cities. Public transport is not being neglected, as evidenced by bus lanes from Soweto to the centre of Johannesburg, with bus stops between the carriageways designed like small futuristic railway stations. That appears to be what South Africa is aiming to do. Dubai invests The UK has not adjusted to the modern world.

Pointless arguments are taking place about the cost of HS2 and the economic benefits when none of us can forecast 18 years ahead. Successive UK governments have spent several decades debating whether to build a decent road between Sheffield and Manchester, two of our major cities, only 40 miles apart.

If it was Dubai, we would have a highway with six lanes either side instead of long traffic queues polluting our villages. Brunel would not have been able to operate in today's UK. She remained in prison until the end of the revolution. They found each other again in England and married in with Sophia giving birth to Isambard Kingdom Brunel in From a young age, Isambard had a talent for engineering and mathematics.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel | Westminster Abbey

Encouraged by his father, he learnt how to depict model drawings of buildings and had begun learning Euclidian geometry by the age of eight. By the age of 20, Isambard had begun working with his father on the ground-breaking Thames Tunnel between Rotherhithe and Wapping. This foot tunnel used a groundbreaking tunnel shield design developed by Marc and Isambard.

Using this system, they were able to protect workers from the dangers of tunnel collapse as they buried under 75 feet under the river. The Rotherhithe tunnel is still in use today. Brunel oversaw the design and construction of many bridges and viaducts throughout his career.

One of Brunel's defining achievements was the Clifton Suspension Bridge project.

Battle of Britain

In , he designed a feet bridge to span across the Avon River. The bridge required two soaring masonry towers that reached feet above the river gorge. The suspension bridge used tensioned cables to support the roadway. This tension allowed the bridge to use drastically less material and so became much cheaper to construct.

Early years and work

Despite the lower cost of production, the project had many funding problems. It was completed after Brunel's death in The bridge is still in use today with over 4 million vehicles passing over it every year. In , Brunel was appointed as chief engineer of the Great Western Railway. This ambitious project aimed to link London to Bristol by railway.


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Brunel spent days researching and surveying the geography of the km route. He controversially chose the flattest approach through Reading and Swindon, which at the time were only small villages.


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  • These settlements later became hugely influential in the construction of railway works and helped turn them today into booming cities. Despite the relative flatness of the land between London and Bristol, there were still many obstacles such as rivers, valleys and hills. Brunel applied his engineering expertise to overcome these with a series of viaducts, bridges, stations and tunnels. One of the most notable is the Box Hill Tunnel in, Wiltshire. This 1.

    In , Brunel began work with the architect, Matthew Digby Wyatt on the design and construction of Paddington Station. As the main terminal for the Great Western Railway, Brunel wanted the station to be the "largest of its class" and similar to the design of the recently completed Crystal Palace. The first train departed on the 16 January , and the station is still seen as a resounding success today. Even as the Great Western Railway was under construction, Brunel moved onto a new project in , the design of a series of steamships for transatlantic shipping.

    Applying his theory that a large steamship would require less fuel than a smaller ship, Brunel offered his services to the shipping company for free. This resulted in the construction of the Great Western steamship which set sail in At the time, it was the largest steamship in the world.

    In perspective: Remembering Isambard Kingdom Brunel

    When Britain entered the Crimea war in , Brunel was asked by the British Government to make a pre-fabricated hospital. The primary requirement was that the construction could be easily transported and built to Turkey. This pioneering design became known as Renkioi hospital.

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