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View Full Version : Happy 200th birthday Brunel!


Lazarus and the Gimp
08-04-2006, 15:22:41
On May 9th 1806, in Portsmouth, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born. For the benefit of anyone not familiar with the great man, let's just have a quick reminder of what he got up to in his life.

Aged 21 he was in charge of the longest underwater tunnel construction ever. He risked his own life in a daring rescue of trapped labourers during a tunnel collapse.

Aged 23 he designed the stunning Clifton Suspension Bridge across the Avon Gorge- a design that pissed all over the designs of even the greats such as Thomas Telford.

Aged 25, as a volunteer policeman in the astonishingly bloody Bristol Riots, he managed to arrest some burly rioters despite being only a tiny wee bloke, wielding only a chair-leg.

Aged 26 he designed a revolutionary new engine powered by liquid CO2. He also had the good sense never to build it, after calculating that it would have a distressing tendency to explode. The designers of the Ford Pinto- please take note.

Aged 27 he designed and built a revolutionary new dredger to keep the Bristol docks operating.

Aged 27 he was placed in charge of the construction of the Great Western Railway. Rather than settle for a bog-standard railway, he sets out to build the fastest, flattest, safest and most advanced railway ever. It included the longest single-arched bridge ever built (at Maidenhead) and the longest tunnel ever constructed (Box Tunnel).

Aged 32 he designed and built the biggest ship ever built- SS Great Western. It was the first true ocean-going steamship.

Aged 34 he built an even bigger ship- SS Great Britain. It has been hailed as the first modern ship, being iron-clad and screw-driven (Brunel's own design, obviously).

Aged 35 he had completed the Great Western Railway, and as an unexpected side-effect he introduced the modern bar, by introducing serving counter bars to his transport inns. Hurrah!

Aged 51, after many delays he launched SS Great Eastern. Five times the size of any other ship ever built. Let me repeat that. Five times the size of any other ship ever built. That's "five times". It remained the biggest ship ever built for 50 years. His own design, obviously.

Aged 53, he completed the Royal Albert Bridge over the River Tamar- the most technologically advanced bridge ever built. All his own design, obviously. He even designed the diving bells and compression chambers used in the underwater engineering work.

Aged 55, he died, after working himself to death.

As well as all the works listed above, he built hundreds of constructions that combine brilliant engineering with beautiful aesthetics. Paddington Station, Temple Meads Station, hundreds of bridges and hotels. In just about every other field of human achievement there can be healthy debate over who was the greatest, but not in engineering. Brunel was so far ahead of the pack that he was playing an entirely different game. He was a giant among pygmies, and tonight the Avon Gorge will be lit up with tonnes of high explosives in celebration. I'm sure he'd have approved.

DevilsH@lo
08-04-2006, 15:26:11
<Doff's Cap>

Used to pass under one of his bridges on the M25, one of our best and most productive engineers.

The Norks
08-04-2006, 15:39:18
and you didn't even find any filth!

Kitsuki
08-04-2006, 17:18:06
Living in Swindon I can't escape Brunel's legacy for more than 30 seconds...

Spartak@CPH
08-04-2006, 17:23:03
Hurrah for the old bloke - even older than OW!

Lazarus and the Gimp
08-04-2006, 18:09:06
Originally posted by The Norks
and you didn't even find any filth!

He was fantastically sarcastic, but that's about the extent of it. The bloke worked too hard to get up to anything sordid.

Cruddy
08-04-2006, 22:56:40
It's amazing the money that gets spent keeping IKB's designs operational - a local rail station (glorified barn really) got 100,000 spent on it rather than rebuild it.

I think that was a bit too nostalgic, but SSGB is being renovated by private funds. I can't argue with that.

THoroughly brilliant bloke. Pity he's dead, but he wouldn't be very creative at 200 now would he.

Drekkus
09-04-2006, 15:35:32
Originally posted by The Norks
and you didn't even find any filth! I too was expecting a turn in the story, exposing him as a fraud and sexual deviant.

Cruddy
10-04-2006, 01:48:00
SHOCK HORROR! Laz researches a non sexual deviant!

BigGameHunter
10-04-2006, 06:24:14
Someone's testosterone level is flatenning.

Wow...I'd never even heard of the guy. What a set of nuts on that dude...how the hell do you get people to finance that kind of stuff? And even when people's life spans were so much shorter, a 21 year old in charge of an underwater tunnel excavation??? I can't get most of mine to even come to work on time most days.

Brilliant man...and further circumstantial evidence that aliens live among us.

JM^3
10-04-2006, 06:44:56
people are children for much longer now adays

I am don't really think of myself as an adult yet (although I am trying) and I am 25

JM

Lazarus and the Gimp
10-04-2006, 07:23:23
Originally posted by BigGameHunter
Wow...I'd never even heard of the guy. What a set of nuts on that dude...how the hell do you get people to finance that kind of stuff?

Some of the projects (such as the GWR) were already set up to be financed by the Bristol merchant venturers, largely with the huge compensation packages they received for releasing their slaves.

On top of that, Brunel was Mr Charm extraordinaire. He was a great hustler for funds, and his reputation meant people were willing ti invest (even though he bankrupted many investors).



And even when people's life spans were so much shorter, a 21 year old in charge of an underwater tunnel excavation??? I can't get most of mine to even come to work on time most days.


He took over from his father, when Marc Brunel fell ill from the strain of the job and industrial sickness (caused by working in knee-deep sewage most of the time). Isambard had already received a top education in engineering and was recognised as a rising star.