Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

A 19th century man wearing a jacket, trousers and waistcoat, with his hands in his pockets and a cigar in mouth, wearing a tall stovepipe top hat, standing in front of giant iron chains on a drum.
Brunel by the launching chains of the SS Great Eastern
by Robert Howlett, 1857
Born(1806-04-09)9 April 1806
Died15 September 1859(1859-09-15) (aged 53)
Mary Elizabeth Horsley (m. 1836)
Engineering career
InstitutionsInstitution of Civil Engineers
Significant designRoyal Albert Bridge
Isambard Kingdom Brunel signature.svg

Isambard Kingdom Brunel FRS (l/; 9 April 1806 – 15 September 1859[1]), was an English mechanical and civil engineer who is considered "one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history",[2] "one of the 19th-century engineering giants",[3] and "one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution, [who] changed the face of the English landscape with his groundbreaking designs and ingenious constructions".[4] Brunel built dockyards, the Great Western Railway, a series of steamships including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship, and numerous important bridges and tunnels. His designs revolutionised public transport and modern engineering.

Though Brunel's projects were not always successful, they often contained innovative solutions to long-standing engineering problems. During his career, Brunel achieved many engineering firsts, including assisting in the building of the first tunnel under a navigable river and development of SS Great Britain, the first propeller-driven, ocean-going, iron ship, which, when built in 1843, was the largest ship ever built.[5][6]

Brunel set the standard for a well-built railway, using careful surveys to minimise gradients and curves. This necessitated expensive construction techniques, new bridges, new viaducts, and the two-mile (3.2 km) long Box Tunnel. One controversial feature was the wide gauge, a "broad gauge" of 7 ft 14 in (2,140 mm), instead of what was later to be known as "standard gauge" of 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm). He astonished Britain by proposing to extend the Great Western Railway westward to North America by building steam-powered, iron-hulled ships. He designed and built three ships that revolutionised naval engineering: the SS Great Western (1838), the SS Great Britain (1843), and the SS Great Eastern (1859).

In 2002, Brunel was placed second in a BBC public poll to determine the "100 Greatest Britons". In 2006, the bicentenary of his birth, a major programme of events celebrated his life and work under the name Brunel 200.[7]

Early life

The son of French civil engineer Sir Marc Isambard Brunel and an English mother Sophia Kingdom, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born on 9 April 1806 in Britain Street, Portsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire,[8] where his father was working on block-making machinery.[9][10]

Brunel's first name Isambard was his French-born father's middle name, which was also his father's preferred given name. Isambard is a Norman name of Germanic origin, meaning either "iron-bright" or "iron-axe". The first element comes from isarn meaning iron (or steel). The second element comes from either biart-r (bright, glorious) or from barđa (a broad axe).[11] His middle name Kingdom was his mother's maiden name.[12]

He had two older sisters, Sophia (oldest child[13]) and Emma, and the whole family moved to London in 1808 for his father's work. Brunel had a happy childhood, despite the family's constant money worries, with his father acting as his teacher during his early years. His father taught him drawing and observational techniques from the age of four and Brunel had learned Euclidean geometry by eight. During this time he also learned fluent French and the basic principles of engineering. He was encouraged to draw interesting buildings and identify any faults in their structure.[14][15]

When Brunel was eight he was sent to Dr Morrell's boarding school in Hove, where he learned the classics. His father, a Frenchman by birth, was determined that Brunel should have access to the high-quality education he had enjoyed in his youth in France; accordingly, at the age of 14, the younger Brunel was enrolled first at the University of Caen Normandy, then at Lycée Henri-IV in Paris.[14][16]

When Brunel was 15, his father Marc, who had accumulated debts of over £5,000, was sent to a debtors' prison. After three months went by with no prospect of release, Marc let it be known that he was considering an offer from the Tsar of Russia. In August 1821, facing the prospect of losing a prominent engineer, the government relented and issued Marc £5,000 to clear his debts in exchange for his promise to remain in Britain.[17][18]

When Brunel completed his studies at Henri-IV in 1822, his father had him presented as a candidate at the renowned engineering school École Polytechnique, but as a foreigner he was deemed ineligible for entry. Brunel subsequently studied under the prominent master clockmaker and horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet, who praised Brunel's potential in letters to his father.[14] In late 1822, having completed his apprenticeship, Brunel returned to England.[16]

Other Languages
Simple English: Isambard Kingdom Brunel
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Tiếng Việt: Isambard Kingdom Brunel