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Isambard Kingdom Brunel for Kids

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

When you think about things like subways, steamships  and bridges, it can be a little bit hard to believe that they were designed by one person.  However, you will find that that is exactly what Isambard Kingdom Brunel did!  In his day, he was known as the man who build Britain, and when he built it, he meant it to last.  The things that he designed are still with us today, and if you are in the right place, you can still see them.

Brunel was born in 1806, more than 200 year ago, and he was educated in Paris from the age of fourteen on.  He was greatly influenced by his father, Marc Isambard, who was also an engineer and when Brunel himself was twenty, his father promoted him to chief assistant engineer of the Thames Tunnel, which would run under the river between Wapping and Rotherhite.  Building the tunnel was dangerous and Brunel nearly died in some flooding during its construction, but he survived and the tunnel is still used today.

In 1833, Brunel was made chief engineer of the Great Western Railway, and he created a broad gauge track that was seven feet wide.  Not only could the wheels be accommodated in this fashion, but it also became possible to carry passengers.  Some of the achievements that Brunel created on the line that ran between Bristol and London included creating viaducts at Chippenham and Hanwelll, the Box Tunne, the Bristol Temple Meds Station and the Maidenhead Bridge, which is the widest, flattest brick arch bridge in the entire world.  Brunel was also know for creating a combination of tubular, suspension and truss bridge that crosses the Wye river at Chepstow, and he improved the design for the bridge over the Tamar river near Plymouth.

The great steam ships that Brunel designed were the some of the soundest ships of their day.  He designed the ship, the Great Western, which was launched in 1837, and it was the first steamship to offer transatlantic service.  The Great Eastern was the largest ship ever built at the time and the Great Britain was the world's first steam powered, iron-hulled passenger liner.

Unfortunately, though Brunel submitted for designs for the construction of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, he did not live to see it built.  Brunel died of a stroke in 1859, but with his death came the impetus for the bridge to be hilt.  It is still a bridge that is used by thousand of cars every day.  In many ways, it can be seen that the works of Isambard Brunel are still very much with us, and still very much a part of the landscape that we live in!

This is an original news article © The Kids Window

One in a series of articles about History written for children.

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