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Brunel and ‘Built to Last’.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born in Portsmouth at the turn of the 18th century, into a country on the cusp of a full scale industrial revolution that would dramatically and irreversibly shape the course of modern British history.

In an era where the engineering profession was exploding, with great new railways, bridges and canals springing up across Britain to provide the infrastructure to a burgeoning manufacturing industry, Brunel could easily have become another worthy but obscure engineer, working diligently on any of the thousands of enormous engineering projects across the country. Instead, he became a towering figure in history of the industrial revolution, recently voted the second greatest Briton of all time.

Brunel’s lasting legacy to the industrial landscape of Britain is bound up with values and ideals that epitomise his engineering and design work. Some of the engineering feats that make up the Great Western Railway, like the Box Tunnel and the Ivybridge viaduct, are quite simply outstanding feats of precision engineering, designed and built with such care that they are still in use today. At the core of these feats of engineering is an awareness that each element must be built to last, that their utility and durability must span centuries, rather than decades. Brunel’s astounding engineering foresight, found in almost every aspect of the Great Western Railway’s construction, is a key part of what makes it such an enduring engineering landmark. (more…)

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