Delve deeper with London Walks into the life and work of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the most prominent figures of the nineteenth century and the Industrial Revolution in Britain.
Born in Hampshire, Brunel went on to build some of London's most famous dockyards, bridges and tunnels, as well as the Great Western Railway and a series of steamships.
This fascinating walk takes you on a voyage under three bridges, over Brunel's Tunnel and to the launch ramps of his monster ship Great Eastern on the Isle of Dogs.
We travel through the Thames Tunnel by train and descend into an underground chamber where Brunel nearly drowned, explains Robert Hulse, London Walks Guide and Museum Director at The Brunel Museum.
Hungerford Bridge is the first bridge encountered on this tour. Well, what remains of it. The Bridge, which took pedestrians to Hungerford Market (now Charing Cross Station), was taken down in 1864 and replaced with a railway bridge.
The railway uses brick piers built by Brunel, Robert adds.
Blackfriars Railway Bridge was constructed in 1886 and can be seen next on this expedition. Intriguingly, as Robert explains, Blackfriars is the first railway station in the world to span over a river. This Bridge was actually completed after Brunel's death, but his son, also an engineer, finished it off with his partner Sir John Wolfe Barry.
There were three generations of engineers in the Brunel family. Isambard was the most famous, but some argue that his father, Sir Marc Brunel, was the greater genius. And his son, Henry Marc Brunel, was also a renowned engineer, he continues.
The third and final Brunel bridge is Tower Bridge, which was constructed in 1894.
This bridge is one of the most famous in the world, but the Victorians hated it. They thought it dishonest. The bridge is made of steel but clad with masonry to fit in aesthetically with the Tower of London. Tower Bridge is the drawbridge for London, but the Victorians thought if you build a steel bridge, it should look like a steel bridge. If you want it to look like a masonry bridge, build it out of masonry.
Next up is one of the most important sites in London: the launch site of Brunel's last project and his greatest ship, The Great Eastern.
The ship was nicknamed Leviathan, or sea monster. It was also called 'the ship that doesn't like the water'. It was so big that they couldn't get the ship into the river. It got stuck and had to be pushed down the ramps by hydraulic rams, chuckles Robert.
On top of all this, you also get to pass by some of London's key destinations:
This tour is called Brunel's London but is much more than that. This is a tick list of iconic London sights, from the houses of Parliament to the Tower of London, and from Shakespeare's Globe to the Mayflower Steps.
Brunel's London takes place at 10:40am every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, beginning just outside the river exit of Embankment Tube. Adult tickets are £10 and the walk lasts for two hours. There is no need to book, just turn up.
*Please check the London Walks website for more information and excluded dates.
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