Isambard Kingdom Brunel

How did Isambard Kingdom Brunel die?

Isambard Kingdom Brunel died in London on 15 September 1859, aged fifty-three. His death came a few months before one of his most famous works, the Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash, was opened. | Image: The Brunel family grave, Kensal Green Cemetery, London

The English engineer suffered a stroke while onboard the SS Great Eastern on the 5th September 1859. He was on the ship to test some parts of the engine prior to a voyage to New York. After the stroke, he went to his London home at 18 Duke Street. Ten days later, on September 15, the engineering giant died, aged fifty-three.

He was laid to rest at the Kensal Green Cemetery (in the Brunel family vault) in London. As part of the memorials that poured in a plaque was placed at the Royal Albert Bridge.

More Isambard Kingdom Brunel Facts

  • His name ‘Isambard’, which is derived from a Germanic word, translates into ‘iron-axe’.
  • Not only did his works have huge impact on England’s landscape, his innovative designs and magnificent works transformed Swindon into one of the fastest growing towns in Europe in the 19th century. As Great Western Railway projects like locomotive sheds were constructed, so did other infrastructures like hospitals, churches and housing estates move into the South Western England town of Swindon.
  • To celebrate his monumental accomplishments and legacy, the UK government Royal Mint came out with two £2 coins in 2006. This coincided with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Additionally commemorative stamps were made that year to honor the English engineer. The stamps showed some of his works, including the Royal Albert Bridge, the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Box Tunnel.
  • On June 10, 1830, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, a prestigious scientific academy which has since 1660 promoted excellence in science for humanity’s benefit.
  • Brunel was also a recipient of the Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur, and a Doctorate of Civil Law from Oxford.
  • His biographers described him as short in height (slightly over 5 feet). The engineer usually donned neat clothes with tall top hats, perhaps to make himself look a bit taller. It’s also been said that he burnt the midnight candle all throughout his life, working for at least 18 hours a day.
  • He is a very revered figure not just in Britain but across the world because his inventions, in many respects, established the standards for future generations of engineers to follow.
  • In a 2002 TV poll by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Isambard Kingdom Brunel was voted as the second greatest Briton of all time. He came in behind Sir Winston Churchill, arguably the greatest Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

    Isambard Kingdom Brunel – quotes

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