The Brunel Museum, London, England
The Thames Tunnel
In 1843, the first tunnel passing under a body of water opened beneath the Thames River, between Rotherhithe and Wapping in London. The tunnel, which is known simply as the Thames Tunnel, was built by Marc Isambard Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It opened as a pedestrian tunnel featuring underground shops and entertainment, but within 30 years it had been purchased by a railway company and to this day is used to run trains.
On the Rotherhithe side, there’s a museum dedicated to the life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and to the construction of the Thames Tunnel. Despite being the son of a Frenchman, Brunel is the most celebrated British engineer of all because he built tunnels, bridges, and steam ships that are still around today. He was also the most audacious engineer of the 19th century (and perhaps of any modern century).
His best-known achievements are the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol (which opened in 1864 and was the longest bridge in the world) and the iron-hulled (and propeller-driven) SS Great Britain (see Chapter 68), but he was also the chief engineer of the Great Western ...