Isambard Kingdom Brunel - Legacy

Legacy

A celebrated engineer in his era, Brunel remains revered today, as evidenced by numerous monuments to him. There are statues in London at Temple (pictured) and Brunel University, Bristol, Saltash, Swindon, Milford Haven, and Paddington station. A statue in Neyland was stolen in August 2010. The topmast of the Great Eastern is used as a flagpole at the entrance to Anfield, Liverpool Football Club's ground. Contemporary locations bear Brunel's name, such as Brunel University in London, a shopping centre in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, and a collection of streets in Exeter: Isambard Terrace, Kingdom Mews, and Brunel Close. A road, car park, and school in his home city of Portsmouth are also named in his honour, along with one of the city's largest public houses. There is an engineering lab building at the University of Plymouth named in his honour.

In a 2002 public television poll conducted by the BBC to select the "100 Greatest Britons", Brunel was placed second, behind Winston Churchill. Brunel's life and works have been depicted in numerous books, films and television programs. Perhaps the most recent is the 2003 book and BBC TV series, Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, which included a dramatisation of the building of the Great Eastern. A 1975 short film about Brunel, "Great", won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Many of Brunel's bridges are still in use, having stood the test of time. Brunel's first engineering project, the Thames Tunnel, is now part of the East London Overground Railway System. The Brunel Engine House at Rotherhithe, which once housed the steam engines that powered the tunnel pumps, now houses the Brunel Museum dedicated to the work and lives of Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Many of Brunel's original papers and designs are now held in the Brunel Institute alongside the ss Great Britain in Bristol, and are freely available for researchers and visitors. www.ssgreatbritain.org.

Brunel is credited with turning the town of Swindon into one of the largest growing towns in Europe during the 1800s. Brunel's choice to locate the Great Western Railway locomotive sheds there caused a need for housing for the workers, which in turn gave Brunel the impetus to build hospitals, churches and housing estates in what is known today as the 'Railway Village'. According to some sources, Brunel's addition of a Mechanics Institute for recreation and hospitals and clinics for his workers gave Aneurin Bevan the basis for the creation of the National Health Service. GWR's successor First Great Western has named its high-speed train no. 43003 "Isambard Kingdom Brunel".

In 2006 the Royal Mint struck two £2 coins to "celebrate the 200th anniversary of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his achievements". The first depicts Brunel with a section of the Royal Albert Bridge and the second shows the roof of Paddington Station. The Post Office issued a set of commemorative stamps.

For the 100-year anniversary of the Royal Albert Bridge, the words "I.K. BRUNEL ENGINEER 1859" were engraved on either end to commemorate his enduring legacy. The words had become obscured by paint, but were restored by Network Rail and revealed again in 2006.

At the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, Brunel was portrayed by Kenneth Branagh in a segment showing the industrial revolution.

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