Isambard Kingdom Brunel

What I learned this morning about Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

One bridge Brunel is most accredited to of made was the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge however that isn’t quite right. After many costly over runs and only having the two support towers been made and the iron cables being delivered to site to be slung over and between the two towers.

The whole thing ground to a halt and Brunel died shortly after having had a stroke.


There was however a suspension bridge that Brunel completed in his lifetime, the only one. In London stood the Hungerford suspension bridge.

The bridge lasted all of 14 years before being demolished to make way for a railway bridge into Charing Cross Station.

John Hawkshaw and William Barlow who were charged with making the Hungerford Bridge into a railway bridge were both great admirers of Brunel and chose to be fitting memorial to Brunel to use the chains and saddles to be removed from the Hungerford Bridge to finish off ‘Brunel’s baby’, the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Having found this out it doesn’t make it less Brunel’s bridge but more Brunel’s bridge finished and memorialised by two great admirers of his, John Hawkshaw and William Barlow.


This is what I love about British TV, it’s always looking further into what things are and how they came to be rather than just saying, ‘here is a bridge, here is another bridge, done’.

If you can get it. Look for Channel 5, Britain’s Greatest Bridges.

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