Isambard Kingdom Brunel

By- Sam Hicks

Early Life

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born April,9,1806 in Portsmouth, England on Britan Street. He was the son of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel(father) and Sophia Kingdom(mother). His father was a French civil engineer. He had two older sisters, Sophia(oldest sister) and Emma(second oldest sister). At the age of four his father taught him drawing and observational techniques, and by eight he had learned Euclidean geometry. When Brunel was eight he was sent to Dr. Morrell's boarding school. When Brunel was fifteen, his father, who had accumulated debts over $5,000, was sent to prison.

Thames Tunnel

Brunel had worked as an assistant engineer for several years on a project to create a tunnel under London's River Thames. Marc Brunel, who was the chief engineer, designed an ingenious tunneling shield to protect workers from cave-ins, but there were two flooding incidents halted work for long periods, killing several workers and injuring younger Brunel. The event stopped the work on the tunnel for several years.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Brunel is best remembered for building the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. The work on the bridge started in 1831, was suspended due to the Queen Square riots. Brunel did not live to see the bridge be completed, but his colleagues and admirers decided to hold a fundraiser to get the money to finish the bridge. The bridge was then open in 1845.

Great Western Railway

In 1833 before the Thames Tunnel was complete, Brunel was appointed chief engineer of the Great Western Railway. It ran from London to Bristol and later Exeter.

Personal life

On July,5,1836, Brunel married Mary Elizabeth Horsley who came from an accomplished musical and artistic family. They had three children named Isambard Brunel Jr., Henry Marc Brunel, and Florence Mary Brunel.


Brunel died in 1859 at the age of 53. He was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.