March Talk: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

This week’s lecture was given by Mr. Stephen K Jones, Welsh Representative on the Panel for Historical Engineering Works.

The lecture began with a brief history of the Institute of Engineering who are celebrating their  Bicentenary this year. There followed a resume of the lives of Marc Isambard Brunel, his famous son Isambard Kingdom Brunel and grandson Henry Marc Brunel.

The talk covered the role of I.K.Brunel in the development of South Wales railways and Docks, beginning with the Taff Vale Railway in 1841. This was followed by the Neath to Aberdare and Merthyr Line in 1846, the LLyfni Valley and Ely Valley lines and the South Wales Mineral Line from Glyncorrwg to Briton Ferry. Brunel had considered two timber bridge crossings of the River Severn but these were opposed by the Admiralty and navigation interests.

However, the Landore Viaduct with a span of 110 feet was erected. Mention was made of Brunel’s ships-The SS Great Britain, SS Great Western and the SS Great Eastern. Neyland which has the only statue of Brunel was developed as a port for the Great Eastern. The  Brunels were also involved in the development of Penarth, Barry, Newport and Briton Ferry Docks. The latter is the only complete dock project of theirs which is still in existence. I.K.Brunel also produced a report on Swansea Docks.


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