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Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806–1859) is arguably Britain’s greatest engineer. During a career that spanned more that thirty years he used his remarkable inventiveness and considerable talent in a multitude of engineering fields. Brunel built dockyards, 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 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, when built in 1843, was the largest ship ever built.
Brunel set the standard for a well-built railway, using careful surveys to minimise gradients and curves. This necessitated expensive construction techniques, new bridges, new viaducts, and the two-mile-long Box Tunnel.
Brunel astonished Britain by proposing to extend the Great Western Railway westward to North America by building steam-powered, iron-hulled ships. He designed and built three ships that revolutionised naval engineering: the SS Great Western (1838), the SS Great Britain (1843), and the SS Great Eastern (1859).
Fourth crowned portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II facing right, wearing the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara.
Depiction of a section of the roof of Paddington Station with the dates 2006 above and the name BRUNEL to the right and the denomination TWO POUNDS below.
'So many irons in the fire and none of them hot,' Brunel wrote in his diary.
SO MANY IRONS IN THE FIRE
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