“Hello” Isambard Kingdom Brunel Born 9 April 1806
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS (9 April 1806 – 15 September 1859), was an English mechanical and civil engineer who built dockyards, the Great Western Railway, steamships including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship, bridges and tunnels.
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 was at the time (1843) also the largest ship ever built.
Brunel was always aware of the need to minimise grades and curves which sometimes resulted in the need for expensive new bridges and viaducts, and the two-mile-long Box Tunnel. One feature of his engineering on the Great Western Railway was the use of the wide gauge, a “broad gauge” of 7 ft 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm), instead of what was later to be known as ‘standard gauge’ of4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm). Although the wider gauge added to passenger comfort, it was more expensive and caused difficulties when eventually it had to interconnect with other railways using the narrower gauge. As a result of the Railway Regulation (Gauge) Act 1846, the gauge was changed to standard gauge throughout the GWR network.
In 2002, Brunel was placed second in a BBC public poll to determine the “100 Greatest Britons