Brunel was one of the most versatile and audacious engineers of the 19th century, responsible for the design of tunnels, bridges, railway lines and ships. Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born in Portsmouth. Brunel’s first notable achievement was the part he played with his father in planning the Thames Tunnel from Rotherhithe to Wapping, completed in 1843. In 1831, Brunel’s designs won the competition for the Clifton Suspension Bridge across the River Avon. Construction began the same year but it was not completed until 1864.
The work for which Brunel is probably best remembered is his construction of a network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts for the Great Western Railway. In 1833, he was appointed their chief engineer and work began on 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 Bristol Temple Meads Station.
While working on the line from Swindon to Gloucester and South Wales he devised the combination of tubular, suspension and truss bridge to cross the Wye at Chepstow. This design was further improved in his famous bridge over the Tamar at Saltash near Plymouth. Brunel was also responsible for the redesign and construction of many of Britain’s major docks. As well as bridges, tunnels and railways, Brunel was also responsible for the design of several famous ships.
In a 2002 poll by the BBC, Brunel was voted the second greatest Briton of all time (after Winston Churchill). Brunel’s feats and achievements have had a lasting legacy and revolutionized how we approach engineering, transport and construction.
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Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.