Brunel's birthday

Posted by Helen Sunday, April 09, 2006

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, which will require a special trip to Paddington railway station, it being the nearest surviving monument to the man’s genius.

As Richard Savill wrote in the Daily Telegraph the other day:

“The vision of Brunel - who by the time of his death in 1859, aged 53, had built 25 railway lines, more than 100 bridges and three ships - helped transform the West Country during the Victorian era.”
It also helped to transform Britain, as Richard Alleyne pointed out on the same day:
“Along with a handful of other industrialists he transformed the country from a traditional, rural, agrarian economy to a modern, urban, industrial one. By the time of his death, it was the industrial superpower of the world.”
A legacy to be proud of and a man, whose loss to Britain cost France dear. I can’t help wondering about a comment made by Andrew Kelly, the director of Brunel 200:
“Although Brunel was born 200 years ago, his influence remains with us in Britain today.

We hope that by showcasing his huge breadth of mind, and how he excelled as an engineer, ship designer, architect, surveyor and artist, we will encourage the Brunels of the future to adopt his 'can do' attitude and determination to achieve.”
I appreciate the need to encourage the Brunels of the future but what makes the man think that someone born 200 years ago is of little relevance. I seem to recall that in a recent BBC poll for the greatest Englishman, Brunel came second to Sir Winston Churchill.

Mr Kelly must realize, surely, that apologizing for the past is not the way to build the future. He could start by meditating on Edmund Burke’s sayings.

They are celebrating in Rotherhithe as well.


Powered by Blogger.




Blog Archive