Brunel, Sir Marc Isambard

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b. 26 April 1769 Hacqueville, Normandy, France
d. 12 December 1849 London, England
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French (naturalized American) engineer of the first Thames Tunnel.
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His mother died when he was 7 years old, a year later he went to college in Gisors and later to the Seminary of Sainte-Nicaise at Rouen. From 1786 to 1792 he followed a career in the French navy as a junior officer. In Rouen he met Sophie Kingdom, daughter of a British Navy contractor, whom he was later to marry. In July 1793 Marc sailed for America from Le Havre. He was to remain there for six years, and became an American citizen, occupying himself as a land surveyor and as an architect. He became Chief Engineer to the City of New York. At General Hamilton's dinner table he learned that the British Navy used over 100,000 ship's blocks every year; this started him thinking how the manufacture of blocks could be mechanized. He roughed out a set of machines to do the job, resigned his post as Chief Engineer and sailed for England in February 1799.
In London he was shortly introduced to Henry Maudslay, to whom he showed the drawings of his proposed machines and with whom he placed an order for their manufacture. The first machines were completed by mid-1803. Altogether Maudslay produced twenty-one machines for preparing the shells, sixteen for preparing the sheaves and eight other machines.
In February 1809 he saw troops at Portsmouth returning from Corunna, the victors, with their lacerated feet bound in rags. He resolved to mechanize the production of boots for the Army and, within a few months, had twenty-four disabled soldiers working the machinery he had invented and installed near his Battersea sawmill. The plant could produce 400 pairs of boots and shoes a day, selling at between 9s. 6d. and 20s. a pair. One day in 1817 at Chatham dockyard he observed a piece of scrap keel timber, showing the ravages wrought by the shipworm, Teredo navalis, which, with its proboscis protected by two jagged concave triangular shells, consumes, digests and finally excretes the ship's timbers as it gnaws its way through them. The excreted material provided material for lining the walls of the tunnel the worm had drilled. Brunel decided to imitate the action of the shipworm on a large scale: the Thames Tunnel was to occupy Marc Brunel for most of the remainder of his life. Boring started in March 1825 and was completed by March 1843. The project lay dormant for long periods, but eventually the 1,200 ft (366 m)-long tunnel was completed. Marc Isambard Brunel died at the age of 80 and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
FRS 1814. Vice-President, Royal Society 1832.
Further Reading
P.Clements, 1970, Marc Isambard Brunel, London: Longmans Green.
IMcN

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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  • 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 …   Universalium

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  • 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

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  • 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

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