Brunel, Sir Marc Isambard


Brunel, Sir Marc Isambard

▪ French-British engineer
born April 25, 1769, Hacqueville, France
died Dec. 12, 1849, London, Eng.
 French-émigré engineer and inventor who solved the historic problem of underwater tunneling (tunnels and underground excavations).

      In 1793, after six years in the French navy, Brunel returned to France, which was then in the midst of revolution. Within a few months his royalist sympathies compelled him to leave. He fled to the United States, where he held the post of chief engineer of New York City. He built many buildings, improved the defenses of the channel between Staten Island and Long Island, and constructed an arsenal and a cannon foundry. A design of his won the competition for the new Capitol (Capitol, United States) to be built in Washington, D.C., but another design was used because of economic considerations.

      Brunel perfected a method for making ships' blocks (pulleys) by mechanical means rather than by hand, and he sailed to England in 1799 to lay his plans before the British government. His plans were accepted, and he was placed in charge of installing his machines at Portsmouth dockyard. When completed, the system of 43 machines—run by 10 men—produced more blocks than 100 men could by hand, and the quality of these blocks was higher and more consistent. Production was much higher. The Portsmouth installation was one of the earliest examples of completely mechanized production.

      A prolific inventor, Brunel designed machines for sawing and bending timber, making boots, knitting stockings, and printing. His sawmills at Battersea (now in Wandsworth), London, were nearly destroyed by fire in 1814, which, combined with financial mismanagement by his partners, drove his enterprise into bankruptcy. After the government refused the output of his army-boot factory when the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, Brunel was imprisoned in 1821 for indebtedness. After several months, his friends obtained from the government a grant of £5,000 for his release.

      Brunel also practiced as a civil engineer. His designs included the Île de Bourbon suspension bridge and the first floating landing piers at Liverpool. In 1818 he patented the tunneling shield, a device that made it possible to tunnel safely through waterbearing strata.

      In 1825 operations began for building the Brunel-designed tunnel under the River Thames (Thames Tunnel) between Rotherhithe and Wapping (in London). This scheme, which had no precedent, was completed in 1842, after great physical and financial difficulties and a seven-year hiatus in construction brought about by lack of funds. The tunnel opened to traffic in 1843. Brunel had been knighted in 1841 for his engineering feat.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Brunel, Sir Marc (Isambard) — born April 25, 1769, Hacqueville, France died Dec. 12, 1849, London, Eng. French born British engineer and inventor. He perfected a method for making ships blocks (pulleys) by mechanical means rather than by hand; the system of 43 machines, run… …   Universalium

  • Brunel, Sir Marc (Isambard) — (25 abr. 1769, Hacqueville, Francia–12 dic. 1849, Londres, Inglaterra). Ingeniero e inventor británico de origen francés. Perfeccionó un método para hacer las poleas de los motones de los barcos por medios mecánicos en vez de manuales; el sistema …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Marc Isambard Brunel — Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, by James Northcote Born Marc Isambard Brunel April 25, 1769(1769 04 25) …   Wikipedia

  • Marc Isambard Brunel — Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (* 25. April 1769 in Hacqueville, Normandie (heute im Département Eure); † 12. Dezember 1849 in London) war ein französisch britischer Ingenieur, Architekt und Erfinder. Er erbaute den ers …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Marc Brunel — Marc Isambard Brunel Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (* 25. April 1769 in Hacqueville, Normandie (heute im Département Eure); † 12. Dezember 1849 in London) war ein französisch britischer Ingenieur, Architekt und Erfinder. Er erbaute den ersten Tunnel… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Marc — Marc, Franz * * * (as used in expressions) Beliveau, Jean (Marc A.) Blitzstein, Marc Bloch, Marc (Léopold Benjamin) Brunel, Sir Marc (Isambard) Chagall, Marc Charpentier, Marc Antoine Marc, Franz Mitscher, Marc A(ndrew) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Brunel, Isambard Kingdom — born April 9, 1806, Portsmouth, Hampshire, Eng. died Sept. 15, 1859, London British civil and mechanical engineer. He was the son of Marc Brunel. His introduction of the broad gauge railway, with rails 7 ft (2 m) apart, made possible high speeds… …   Universalium

  • sir — /serr/, n. 1. a respectful or formal term of address used to a man: No, sir. 2. (cap.) the distinctive title of a knight or baronet: Sir Walter Scott. 3. (cap.) a title of respect for some notable personage of ancient times: Sir Pandarus of Troy …   Universalium

  • sir — (Voz inglesa.) ► sustantivo masculino Tratamiento honorífico empleado por los británicos. * * * sir (ingl.; pronunc. [ser]) m. *Tratamiento de respeto usado en Inglaterra delante de un nombre de hombre o para dirigirse a la persona de que se… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • marc — /mahrk/; Fr. /mannrdd/, n. 1. the grapes contained in the wine press and the residue, as skins and pips, remaining after the juice is expressed. 2. (in France) the brandy distilled from this residue. 3. Pharm. the residue that remains following… …   Universalium