Brunel , Isambard Kingdom


Brunel , Isambard Kingdom
(1806–1859) British engineer
Brunel's father, Marc Brunel (1769–1849), a French emigré and distinguished engineer, arrived in England in 1799. He sent his son to Paris in 1820 to learn mathematics and engineering. Brunel returned to England in 1822 to work for his father and in 1825 they began the construction of the Rotherhithe-Wapping tunnel underneath the Thames. Here Brunel quickly learned of the unpredictability of great engineering projects; the tunnel flooded in 1828 and Brunel nearly drowned.
While convalescing, he heard that the city of Bristol was considering building a bridge across the River Avon. A competition was to be held with Thomas Telford as the judge. Brunel submitted plans for a suspension bridge at Clifton. Telford rejected Brunel's design and proposed instead that he himself should build something more appropriate. The selection committee, however, preferred Brunel's plans. Although work began in 1831 it was not until 1864, well after Brunel's death, that the bridge was opened. The span is still standing and remains, perhaps, Brunel's most durable monument.
While in the Bristol region other commissions came his way. In 1833 he was invited to build the Great Western Railway (GWR) to run between London and Bristol. He decided to adopt a 7-foot gauge rather than the 4 foot 8½-inch gauge introduced by George Stephenson at the beginning of the railway age. The broad gauge enabled trains to run faster and more comfortably. It did not, however, allow the GWR to link up easily with the rest of the growing network. The line was opened in 1841 and extended to Exeter by 1844. It was insisted, however, in the interest of establishing a unitary railway system, that after 1846 no more broad-gauge track could be laid down. The last of the track was removed in 1896.
Not all Brunel's projects were as successful – in particular, the ‘atmospheric railway’ that he built between Exeter and Newton Abbot in the 1840s. The idea was to eliminate the locomotive. A continuous pipe was laid between the rails and attached to the carriages by a suspended piston. Air was evacuated from the pipe by pumping engines located along the route. In practice, it proved too difficult to maintain the leather seal through which the connecting rod emerged; it was either eaten by rats, or made brittle by the sea air, or it froze in winter. The line was opened in November 1847 and closed the following year, having incurred enormous losses.
Brunel also turned his attention to steamships. The first Atlantic steam crossing had been accomplished by the AmericanSavannah in 1819 using steam in combination with sail. Conventional wisdom held that to cross the Atlantic on steam alone would require so much coal as to leave no room for freight. Brunel calculated otherwise and dispelled this myth with hisGreat Western (1837; 2340 tons), a timber ship driven by paddles. It crossed the Atlantic in 15 days with 200 tons of coal unused in its bunkers.
Brunel went on to build the equally revolutionary Great Britain(1843; 3676 tons) with an iron hull and screw propellor, which continued in service for 30 years. His final work was the Great Eastern (1858; 32,000 tons) with its double iron hull, screws, and paddles; it was later used to lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable.
The struggle to complete the Great Eastern against considerable financial and engineering difficulties seems to have ruined Brunel's health and probably caused the stroke he suffered soon after his great ship had been finally launched. He died soon after.

Scientists. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Brunel, Isambard Kingdom — born April 9, 1806, Portsmouth, Hampshire, Eng. died Sept. 15, 1859, London British civil and mechanical engineer. He was the son of Marc Brunel. His introduction of the broad gauge railway, with rails 7 ft (2 m) apart, made possible high speeds… …   Universalium

  • Brunel, Isambard Kingdom —  (1806–1859) British engineer; son of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (1769–1849), also an engineer …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Brunel, Isambard Kingdom — (9 abr. 1806, Portsmouth, Hampshire, Inglaterra–15 sep.1859, Londres). Ingeniero civil y mecánico británico. Era hijo de Marc Brunel. Su introducción del ferrocarril de trocha ancha, con rieles separados 2 m (7 pies) entre sí, posibilitó alcanzar …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • BRUNEL, ISAMBARD KINGDOM —    son of the preceding, assisted his father in his engineering operations, in particular the Thames tunnel; was engineer of the Great Western Railway; designed the Great Western steamship, the first to cross the Atlantic; was the first to apply… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel — en 1857 Naissance 9 avril  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel — Brunel antes de la botadura del SS Great Eastern (1857). Naci …   Wikipedia Español

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel — Brunel mit Zylinder und Zigarre vor der riesigen aufgewickelten Ankerkette des Dampfschiffes Great Eastern, Fotografie von Robert Howlett Isambard Kingdom Brunel (* 9. April 1806 in Portsmouth; † 15. September 1859 in London) war ein britischer… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel — [Isambard Kingdom Brunel] (1806–69) an English engineer, famous for his ambitious designs for ships, bridges and railways. He designed the ↑Clifton Suspension Bridge and the largest ships that had ever been built at the time, including the Great… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel — Infobox Engineer image size = caption = Brunel before the launching of the Great Eastern name = Isambard Kingdom Brunel nationality = birth date =birth date|1806|4|9|df=y birth place = Portsmouth, United Kingdom death date =Death date and… …   Wikipedia

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel — ➡ Brunel * * * …   Universalium


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