On This Day

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Profession: Engineer


Biography: Isambard Kingdom Brunel is one of the most famous figures of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. Born to a French engineer settled in Britain, Brunel first worked for his father on the Thames Tunnel.

In 1833 Brunel was appointed chief engineer for the proposed Great Western Railway. Brunel made the far-reaching decision to choose the broad gauge in place of the standard gauge. This decision enabled the trains to run at faster speeds and was eventually adopted throughout the country.

While working for the Great Western Railway, which ran London to Bristol, Brunel was responsible for the design of many impressive bridges, viaducts and railway stations.

Brunel is equally remembered for his three great ships, the 'Great Western', launched 1837, the first steamship to do a transatlantic service. The 'Great Britain' (1843), was the world's first iron-hulled, screw propeller-driven, steam-powered passenger liner and the 'Great Eastern' (1859) laid the transatlantic cable.

Brunel's other engineering achievements include the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol and the redesign of a number of British docks.

Born: April 9, 1806
Birthplace: Portsmouth, Hampshire, Great Britain
Star Sign: Aries

Died: September 15, 1859 (aged 53)
Cause of Death: Stroke

Articles and Photos

Married Life

  • 1836-07-05 English engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel marries Mary Elizabeth Horsley

Historical Events

  • 1843-07-19 The steamship SS Great Britain is launched, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is the first ocean-going craft with an iron hull or screw propeller and the largest vessel afloat in the world
  • 1854-05-29 Paddington Station, London's terminus for the Great Western Railway opens, with a design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel
  • 1864-12-08 The Clifton Suspension Bridge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is finally opened in Bristol, England, 5 years after his death
  • 1866-07-27 Transatlantic telegraph cable successfully in second attempt comes ashore at Heart's Content, Newfoundland laid out by Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Great Eastern steamship (1,686 miles long)

Biographies and Sources

Famous Engineers