I. K. Brunel & the Stephensons?

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Semaphore Sam
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I. K. Brunel & the Stephensons?

Post by Semaphore Sam »

Anyone on this site ever heard of these 'nonentities'? They must not amount to much....they aren't Yanks.

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Post by Aa3rt »

Sam, I. K. (Isambard Kingdom) Brunel is a legendary civil engineer in British annals. Aside from many engineering projects, he is perhaps most well known for building the Great Western Railway to a 7 foot, 1/4 inch gauge to allow for high speed operation in the late 1800's. A comprehensive article on Mr. Brunel can be found here:


Approximately halfway through the article is a photo of dual gauge (4ft 8 1/2inch & 7 ft 1/4inch) trackage, showing the dramatic difference between the two.

George and Robert (George's son) Stephenson have a society dedicated to them in Great Britain. Here's a link to the Stephenson Locomotive Society:

http://www.stephensonloco.fsbusiness.co ... george.htm
Art Audley, AA3RT
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Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post by Juniatha »

Isambard Kingdom Brunel
was remarkable for building the Great Western Railway with a 7 ft gauge.
That later caused 'the battle of the gauges' - which at times was quite open, not as one might think by the later overwhelming victory of what became standard gauge. What would have happened had Brunel's 7 ft gauge won?

But Brunel was also remarkable for the ships he had built.

Quoting a paragraph from Wikipedia:

Even before the Great Western Railway was opened, Brunel was moving on to his next project: transatlantic shipping. He used his prestige to convince his railway company employers to build the Great Western, at the time by far the largest steamship in the world. She first sailed in 1837.

She was 236 ft (72 m) long, built of wood, and powered by sail and paddlewheels. Her first return trip to New York City took just 29 days, compared to two months for an average sailing ship. In total, 74 crossings to New York were made. The Great Britain followed in 1843; much larger at 322 ft (98 m) long, it was the first iron-hulled, propeller-driven ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

Building on these successes, Brunel turned to a third ship in 1852, even larger than both of its predecessors, and intended for voyages to India and Australia. The Great Eastern (originally dubbed Leviathan) was cutting-edge technology for its time: almost 700 ft (213 m) long, fitted out with the most luxurious appointments and capable of carrying over 4,000 passengers.

It was designed to be able to cruise under its own power non-stop from London to Sydney and back since engineers of the time were under the misaprehension that Australia had no coal reserves, and it remained the largest ship built until the turn of the century. Like many of Brunel's ambitious projects, the ship soon ran over budget and behind schedule in the face of a series of momentous technical problems.

The ship has been portrayed as a white elephant, but it can be argued that in this case Brunel's failure was principally one of economics — his ships were simply years ahead of their time. His vision and engineering innovations made the building of large-scale, screw-driven, all-metal steamships a practical reality, but the prevailing economic and industrial conditions meant that it would be several decades before transoceanic steamship travel emerged as a viable industry.

So much to this pioneer of railroading


Add. August 9th; Shemp Howard wrote:
Approximately halfway through the article is a photo of dual gauge (4ft 8 1/2inch & 7 ft 1/4inch) trackage, showing the dramatic difference between the two.
Oh thanks for the link, I checked that, Shemp; and further down in this article there is a photo of a 2-4-0-engine titled: 'Convertible locomotives'. They mean the conversion from broad to standard gauge - but the shape of the 'wind shed' (cab) immediately made me think of the present day use of the term 'convertible' as in sports cars, that's how that 'cab' looks like ... *g*
Last edited by Juniatha on Wed Aug 09, 2006 5:57 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Post by Cosmo »

Isambard Kingdom Brunel.....the Albert Einstien of railroading, if only for his true genius! For his truly British sense of ellegance and style, (to great to merely attribute to "the times,") where is there eaqual?
I had a chance to view his viaduct across the valley and through the town of Bath, England as well as see a few British Ry traains crossing it. Breathtaking is not quite the word, but it'll have to do!

As for the Stephensons, I gather the original remarks were meant in jest, for without them there would likely NEVER have been ANY steam locomotives! At least, not till someone else with the combination of genius+ambition came along.

"It belongs in a MUSEUM!"
-Indiana Jones

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