Isambard Kingdom Brunel
(9 April 1806 – 15 September 1859), was a British civil engineer
who built bridges and dockyards including the construction of the first major British railway, the Great Western Railway
; a series of steamships, including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship; and numerous important bridges and tunnels. His designs revolutionised public transport and modern engineering.
Though Brunel's projects were not always successful, they often contained innovative solutions to long-standing engineering problems. During his short career, 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 set the standard for a very well built railway, using careful surveys to minimise grades and curves. That necessitated expensive construction techniques and new bridges and viaducts, and the two-mile-long Box Tunnel
. One controversial feature was the wide gauge
, a "broad gauge" of , instead of what was later to be known as 'standard gauge
' of . The wider gauge added to passenger comfort but made construction much more expensive and caused difficulties when eventually it had to interconnect with other railways using the narrower gauge. ... Read More