tamar bridge brunel

Where to find Brunel's works in England

In England, it is impossible to miss the influence of Brunel’s architecture. He was a real genius of Victorian engineering that has left its imprint in numerous regions of England is the Victoria and Albert Museum. Kingdom of Isambard Brunel was born at Portsea, near Portsmouth, in 1806; his father was a French engineer who was in debt at the time of his birth.

The Tunnel beneath the Thames between Rotherhithe and Lambeth which was a project of his father was his first job after finishing his studies and qualifying as an engineer, like his father.

He also designed the Monkwearmouth Docks project in Bristol, as well as parts of Cardiff and Plymouth harbours later on.

After 27 years, he was appointed to the position of chief engineer of Western Railway, just as the railway network was expanding at its peak.

He designed and built technical marvels such as the Hanwell viaducts in west London and Chippenham, the Maidenhead bridge, the Box Tunnel, and the Temple Meads station in Bristol while working on the London – Bristol railway route.

Brunel has left so much in England

The only difficulty was that whereas Brunel utilised a rail with a 2.2 metre gauge, the rest of the network used a rail that was 1,55 metre gauge,  forcing passengers to change trains on a regular basis!

clifton bridge brunelLater on, Brunel began construction on a steamer, the Great Western, which was at the time the biggest ship in the world and took just 15 days to go from London to New York City. His next project was the construction of the Great Britain, a transatlantic ship capable of transporting 250 passengers, a crew of 130 persons, and 1200 tonnes of cargo.

Following up from his earlier successes, Brunel began construction on a massive ship known as the Great Eastern in 1200. It was an ambitious idea to have a ship built on the Thames, and it was capable of transporting almost 4000 passengers! Unfortunately, the project proved to be extraordinarily costly, too ambitious, and rife with human tragedies during the building process, resulting in its cancellation. Brunel’s work is not among his best!

During this time period, Brunel became unwell and nearly died of a broken heart in 1859, only to witness his monumental project go up in flames. It goes without saying that the Great Eastern was a failure, despite the fact that it was built. This was owing to the exorbitant expenses and difficulty in executing the project. After then, it was demolished.

The Clifton Bridge, a prominent suspension bridge in Bristol, is probably one of Brunel’s most famous works. Brunel did not get to witness the completed bridge; in fact, the building of the bridge was delayed and only begun after Brunel’s death as a memorial to him.

There were additional bridges constructed by Brunel, including the well-known Royal Albert Bridge that spans the River Tamar.

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