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News: 16 December 2017


Images of England: Brunel 200
Isambard Kingdom Brunel

2006 marks the 200 anniversary of the birth of one of Britain's greatest designers, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Brunel's lasting engineering achievements can be seen on the Images of England website. You can view images of bridges, stations, tunnels and viaducts designed by Brunel by registering for the Advanced Search.

Brunel was born in 1806, the son of a distinguished French engineer, Sir Marc Brunel, who had come to England at the time of the French Revolution. Unlike most engineers of the time, Brunel received a good education and practical training - partly in France - before working alongside his father on the Thames Tunnel.

Brunel is best known for the creation of the Great Western Railway, a series of famous steamships, and numerous important bridges. Although his projects were not always successful, they often contained innovative solutions to long-standing engineering problems. During his short career, Brunel achieved many engineering "firsts", including the building of the first tunnel under a navigable river. It was Brunel's ingenuity that contributed to Britain's unrivalled international standing in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, IoE Number 379208  Mrs Joy Roddy LRPS
'Reproduced by permission of English Heritage. NMR'

Click on the image to go to the Viewfinder website


Brunel referred to the Clifton Suspension Bridge as his 'darling' but financial difficulties and contractual disagreements led to long delays in its construction and the bridge was not completed until 1864, five years after his death. The bridge spans 214 metres between its two 26 metre high towers and stands 76 metres above the high water mark in the gorge through which the river Avon flows. Although built for pedestrian and horse drawn traffic, the bridge was so ingeniously constructed that it is now capable of carrying around 4 million cars a year, and has become a major route to the motorway network.

Great Western Railway
Paddington Station, City of Westminster, Greater London, IoE Number 209557  Mr Anthony Rau
'Reproduced by permission of English Heritage. NMR'

Click on the image to go to the Viewfinder website


Brunel's most famous work is probably his construction of a network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts for the Great Western Railway. In March 1833, he was appointed their chief engineer and his work began with the line that linked London to Bristol. Impressive achievements during its construction included the viaducts at Hanwell and Chippenham, the Maidenhead Bridge, the Box Tunnel and the Bristol Temple Meads Station.

Maidenhead Bridge
Maidenhead Railway Bridge and Approach Arches, Taplow, Buckinghamshire, IoE Number 44310  Dale Venn LRPS
'Reproduced by permission of English Heritage. NMR'

Click on the image to go to the Viewfinder website


To search for buildings association with Brunel you will need to register to access the Advanced Search facility. By inputting the name �Brunel, Isambard Kingdom� in the �Person/organisation� category and then clicking �submit� you will find the details of all the listed buildings which link to him. You could combine this search with another under Advanced Search, for example, if you wanted to find out more about Brunel's work in a particular area.

You can find out more information on Brunel and the 20th anniversary at www.brunel200.com.


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