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Collection

Discover our rich collection of objects from the Brunel archive.

French Revolutionary Banknote

Assignat of 25 sols, printed following the French Revolution of 1789

Decorative fan belonging to Mary Brunel

Decorative fan which formerly belonged to Mary Brunel (1813-81), wife of I. K. Brunel.

“Memoir of Sir M. I. Brunel” by Richard Beamish

Copy of Richard Beamish’s Memoir of the Life of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (1866), with a number of manuscript annotations on the flyleaves documenting the Brunel family’s genealogy.  The volume also contains a manuscript dedication from John Kennedy (later Rev. John Kennedy, headmaster of Aldenham School, Herts., 1877-99) to Philip Edward Lee, dated 1865 on …

SS Great Eastern – Hull Print

Print of the SS Great Eastern's hull, from a photograph by Robert Howlett

SS Great Eastern – Bow Print

Print of the SS Great Eastern's bow, from a photograph by Robert Howlett

SS Great Eastern – Launching Cradles Print

Print of the SS Great Eastern on its launching cradle, from a photograph by Robert Howlett

SS Great Eastern – Screw Shaft and Sternpost Print

Print of the SS Great Eastern's screw shaft and sternpost, from a photograph by Robert Howlett

SS Great Eastern – Inspection of the Checking Drum Print

Print of the inspection of the SS Great Eastern's checking drum, from a photograph by Robert Howlett

SS Great Eastern – Rear Deck Construction Print

Print of the SS Great Eastern's deck, from a photograph by Robert Howlett

SS Great Eastern – Front Deck Construction Print

Print of the SS Great Eastern's deck, from a photograph by Robert Howlett

SS Great Eastern – Checking Drums Print

Print of the SS Great Eastern's checking drum, from a photograph by Robert Howlett

SS Great Eastern – Hydraulic Rams Print

Print of the SS Great Eastern's hydraulic rams, from a photograph by Robert Howlett

SS Great Eastern Medal

White metal medal commemorating the death of I.K. Brunel in 1859, with a depiction of Brunel (obverse) and the SS Great Eastern (reverse)

Thames Tunnel Medal

White metal medal depicting Marc Brunel (obverse) and the Thames Tunnel entrance (reverse)

Commemorative silk kerchief

Red and cream silk kerchief with printed decoration in black and additional colours of yellow, red and grey applied by hand to the central illustration. The illustration of whole tunnel that decorates the border is similar to one by William Westall. The square central illustration of the interior of the Thames Tunnel is an illustration by James D. Harding. This would have been a more expensive souvenir in comparison to the other commemorative handkerchief in the Brunel Museum collection (LDBRU:2007.2) due to its higher quality and the more laborious production process.

ICE certificate awarding Marc Isambard Brunel the Thomas Telford Silver Medal

Institution of Civil Engineers: certificate awarding Marc Isambard Brunel the Thomas Telford Silver Medal "...in testimony of the high sense entertained by this Institution of the Benefits conferred by him on the Profession of the Civil Engineer by the design and construction of the Shield at The Thames Tunnel and in acknowledgement of the valuable Drawings of the Shield presented by him to this Institution", calligraphic manuscript executed in imitation of engraving, signed by President and Secretary, London, 15 January 1839, on one sheet of vellum, folio.

A lithograph section of the whole tunnel with three vignettes

A lithograph section of the whole tunnel with three vignettes of the movable stage and other views below (number 1-4), drawn by 'Wm Westall'.

Sketch of the tunnel shaft with accompanying text

A shaded sketch of the shield featuring two figures with tools alongside accompanying explanatory text, signed by J. Pinchback and Warrington. Also includes scale markings (50 feet x 40 feet) and figure numbers (1-4).

Lithographic overview of the ‘Great Descents’

Lithographic overview of the 'Great Descents' (similar to the previous but in a smaller format and omitting the tunnel cross-section), lithographed by Warrington after Pinchback; marked up by Brunel, with in the margin pencilled calculations as to the length of tunnel required for completion, and in the map itself in ink with the same calculations (marked as 727ft 9in at the position of the shield, plus notes of the position of the old shield, compass points, etc.)

Lithographic overview and cross section of the ‘Great Descents’

Lithographic overview and cross section of the 'Great Descents', after Joseph Pinchback, captioned in ink: "Thames Tunnel/ Plan and Section showing the proposed Pumping Well at Wapping and drain from thence to the Shield forming the 1st article in Mr Brunel's Estimate for the completion of the Tunnel – the section shews the dip of the Strata towards the Middlesex Shore"; (section cut from sheet).

Pen-and-ink study of the timbering for the removal of the old shield

Small drawing; a pen-and-ink study, presumably by Richard Beamish, of the timbering for the removal of the old shield

A wash view of the shield

Small drawing presenting a wash view of [?] the shield

Longitudinal section showing the Rotherhithe shaft with the first section of tunnel constructed

Watercolour of a longitudinal section showing the Rotherhithe shaft with the first section of tunnel constructed, with two miners in profile working at the upper and lower sections of the shield, two gentlemen inspecting the works [possibly Brunel and a visitor], and a miner wheeling away soil in a barrow; cut from a larger sheet.

Longitudinal section of part of Thames tunnel

Watercolour conveying "Longitudinal section of part of Thames tunnel showing the state of the strata and coveringafter the Run of Sand", signed with monogram [?] "R.P.", inscribed to Brunel's son-in-law Benjamin Hawes MP, dated "3 March 1837".

Transverse section of the Thames Tunnel and strata

Watercolour featuring a "Transverse section of the Thames tunnel and strata...", extensively annotated, and signed with monogram [?] "R.P.", inscribed to Brunel's son-in-law Benjamin Hawes MP, dated "3 March 1837".

Cylindrical tunnelling shield with crank

Watercolour featuring a cylindrical tunnelling shield with crank (apparently for propelling cast-iron segments into place), cut from a larger sheet (conjoint with LDBRU:2017.19), with scale of feet, dated "September 1818".

Cylindrical tunnelling shield (two views)

Cylindrical tunnelling shield, two views, one with a miner at work, cut from a larger sheet with ink-ruled border at left-hand and lower edge (conjoint with LDBRU:2017.20)

Engineering drawings for a tunnel in cast iron

Pen-and-ink engineering drawings for a tunnel in cast iron, dated "10 April 1818", and extensively annotated in French and English by Brunel, with notes on brickwork laid in cement and of the cast iron shell indicating thickness at the crown and sides; subscribed "The Cast Iron for a Tunnel of this nature will not exceed 200 Tons for every 100 feet run including the drain".

Longitudinal section showing the inundation of the river

Watercolour of a longitudinal section (attributable to Joseph Pinchback) of the tunnel, showing the inundation of the river into the workings and the mass of bagged clay dropped on a raft into the riverbed to fill the gap, with the Brunels' engineering assistant Richard Beamish examining the state of the shield with the aid of a bull's-eye; lantern, his companion in a boat; feint caption in pencil "No. 8"

Cross Section of the Tunnel showing the extent of displaced ground

Watercolour illustrating a "Cross Section of the Tunnel showing the extent of displaced ground" at Trinity High Water and Low Water, signed by Joseph Pinchback.

Timbering for the Removal of the Old Shield / Side Timbering

Watercolour depicting the "Timbering for the Removal of the Old Shield/ Side Timbering", signed "Rich. Beamish"; cut from a larger sheet

Autograph sketch-plan showing two sections of the proposed cylindrical tunnel

Autograph sketch-plan by Brunel showing two sections of the proposed cylindrical tunnel, one empty, the other with a coach passing through with wounded veteran and prosperous gentleman across the divide, dated "10 April 1818", and captioned "Two Tunnels of 17 f[eet]. D[iameter] each would be preferable to one of 24 feet".

‘Coupe d’une Tounelle pour le service des gens de pied, prise dans toute son étendue’

A watercolour featuring 'a cross-section of the tunnel for pedestrians shown to its full extent', seemingly captioned by Marc Isambard Brunel and signed by his chief mechanical draftsman, Joseph Pinchback ('Drawn by J. Pinchback, 1824) including scale of feet; consists of one long sheet folded into four with some tears and staining

Section of a tripartite shield with twelve miners at work

Watercolour showing a section of a tripartite shield with twelve miners at work in the shield; with partial ink border and seemingly a companion piece of LDBRU:2017.11, originally part of the same sheet.

Section of the tunnel with stagecoach and shield

Watercolour representing a section of the tunnel, showing on the left a stagecoach riding through the tunnel, to the centre and right men at work in the shield; with partial ink border (cut from a larger sheet).

Four views of the Tunnelling Shield

Grisaille watercolour of the design for Marc Brunel's tunnelling shield, comprising four composite views, marked as figures 1-4, showing views of the hydraulic pumps propelling the shield, two with miners at work on the face, annotated in pencil with calculations of tons extracted per feet.

Section of tunnel with overlay (overlay)

Watercolour depicting a section of the tunnel with overlay. The under section shows the shield with its twelve iron frames as seen from the front. The overplay places the brick-work double tunnel entrance over the shield.

Section of tunnel with overlay (under section)

Watercolour depicting a section of the tunnel with overlay. The under section shows the shield with its twelve iron frames as seen from the front. The overplay places the brick-work double tunnel entrance over the shield.

Section of the tunnel, shield and movable stage

Watercolour depicting a section of the tunnel, shield and movable stage, showing one of the arches not yet cut out from the encasing brickwork, attributed to Joseph Pinchback.

Mode of sinking the Shaft

Watercolour depicting the "Mode of Sinking the Shaft" which shows the Rotherhithe shaft surmounted by a steam engine powering buckets-and-pulley soil extraction, with miners digging at the face, attributable to Joseph Pinchback.

Section of one of the iron frames comprising the shield

Watercolour depicting section of one of the iron frames comprising the shield used in the construction of the Thames Tunnel, signed and dated "A.H.C./ June 1836",

Three miners at work in the tunnel

Watercolour depicting three miners at work in the tunnel; shows how miners would dig forward, and the whole shield would be driven forward by hydraulics, in exactly the way that was eventually used, on a larger scale, in the "Great Shield"

State of the polling boards after the flooding of the tunnel

Pen-and-ink sketch of the "State in which the Polling boards were found after the eruption of the river & the water had been pumped out", with dates indicated at the head showing progress between December 14 and December 16, possibly attributed to William Hawes, brother of Benjamin Hawes, friend of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (initialled Wm H.)

Isometrical sketch of one of the Twelve Iron Frames forming the Shield

A small woodcut engraving of isometrical sketch (based on the watercolour isometrical projection) depicting sections of the "Great Shield", credited to 'R. Beamish' and 'W. Warrington'.

Isometrical projection of one of the Twelve Iron Frames forming the Shield

Watercolour depicting an "Isometrical projection of one of the Twelve Iron Frames forming the Shield/ shewing the manner in which the ground in front was altogether supported", headed "One Frame", signed R. Beamish.

Cross-section of the whole tunnel

Watercolour depicting a cross-section of the whole tunnel (attributable to Brunel's chief mechanical draftsman, Joseph Pinchback), extending halfway across the river, including the Rotherhithe shaft plus sump and nearby buildings.

Isambard’s descent in the diving bell

Isambard Kingdom Brunel's autograph drawing showing his descent in a diving bell to inspect damage to the shield of the Thames Tunnel after the flood of May 1827, signed and dated ("I.K. Brunel/ 1827"), showing the bell suspended from a boat crewed by some twenty men, with two figures within the bell, one seated within, the other half out of the bell in order to inspect the damage, secured by rope to his companion (pen-and-ink on wove paper).

Horn beaker

Horn beaker engraved with the Thames Tunnel

Blue-rimmed pottery plate Thames Tunnel

Pottery plate showing the TT and with blue rim and alphabet embossed on plate

Pottery plate Thames Tunnel

Pottery plate showing the Thames Tunnel with decorative rim and with text starting '1200 Feet Long'

Pottery plate Marc Brunel

One pottery plate showing Sir Marc Brunel

Gin flask Thames Tunnel

One salt glazed stoneware Thames Tunnel gin flask

Red pottery coffee can

Red pottery Thames Tunnel coffee can

Black pottery coffee can

Blue pottery Thames Tunnel coffee can

Pottery ornament Thames Tunnel

One pottery ornament 'Present from the Thames Tunnel'

Horn beaker

Horn beaker engraved with the Thames Tunnel

Thames Tunnel Dual-Layer Peepshow

A contemporary dual-layer peepshow before 1843, with vista above and below the Thames

Parian Porcelain Figure of I. K. Brunel

Parian figure of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, modelled in 1860 by J. Durham for the Worcester Porcelain factory.

German lithographic print of the Thames Tunnel

Two-colour German lithographic print of twelve views of the Thames Tunnel with descriptive text, printed in March 1828 by Rudolph Schlicht in Mannheim and entitled 'Drawings of the Road linking Rotherhithe to Wapping in London under the Thames, called The Tunnel'.

Tile from Thames Tunnel

Original tile from Thames Tunnel, framed

Marc Brunel mezzotint

This print depicts Marc Brunel early in his career in Britain, before work had begun on the Tunnel. It was published on 30 March 1815 by Charles Turner (1773-1857), a London engraver and publisher, and reproduces an oil painting done by James Northcote (1746-1831). Prints such as this were central to the 19th-century art market and provided far greater publicity than could be achieved through a single copy of a painting, with this print therefore contributing to raising Brunel’s public profile. The print was done in mezzotint, a technique widely used for reproducing oil paintings, at an important moment in the history of engraving in Britain.

Brunel tunnel watercolour

A fine water colour of the Thames Tunnel by Sir Marc Brunel, dated 1835

Yates shaft watercolour

A fine and important topographical water colour of the Shaft of the Thames Tunnel by George Yates, dated 1835

Thames Tunnel Stereoscopic Peepshow

A contemporary peepshow circa 1852, with a vista of the Tunnel

Tunnel guide English

A rare early illustrated Guide to the Tunnel in English dated 1828

Tunnel guide French

A rare early illustrated Guide to the Tunnel in French dated 1839

Tray Thames Tunnel

One papier-mache tray, view of tunnel

Glass tankard Thames Tunnel

One glass tankard 'Present from the Thames Tunnel'

Papier-mache box Thames Tunnel

Papier-mache box Thames Tunnel

Spooner’s Protean View No. 28: The Thames Tunnel

Spooner produced several examples although little is known about the artist. This work depicts a view of The Thames Tunnel which changes into the Coronation Procession from Buckingham Palace when the lithograph is lit from behind.

Polyorama Panoptique et Diagraphique pour Dessiner d’Après Nature

When placed in a special viewer with the lid closed, The Thames view is seen; when the lid is raised and light enters the box, the front image disappears, revealing the hidden image behind. In the Spooner Protean View presented by the Art Fund the tunnel

I. K. Brunel Full-Length Portrait

Acrylic on canvas full-length portrait of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, painted by Bryan Organ after the Robert Howlett photograph of Brunel; depicts Isambard in front of the Box Tunnel

IKB’s seal of Great Western Railway

Mahogany bearing words Go Ahead

‘Leviathan’ Scrimshaw Shell

Shell engraved with a picture of a steam vessel, captioned: ‘Steam ship Leviathan. Designed by I.K. Brunel Esqr. F.R.S. Built by I.J. Russel Esq. Launch 31 Jany. 1856. Tonnage 24000 tons, Power 2600 horses, Length 690 feet, depth 60 ft.’ The shell has had the outer surface polished to reveal the mother-of-pearl.

Structural chains

Chain length cut from Shaft wall during creation of new doorway

Sectional Model of Thames Tunnel Under Construction

Sectional model of Thames tunnel, 1826, by Severn-Lamb Limited, England

Marc Brunel shoe buckles

Pair of rounded oblong shoe buckles, originally belonging to Sir Marc Brunel, decorated with paste glass gemstones

East London Line commemorative medal

Commemorative medallion issued at closure of East London line in 2007

Papier-mache box Thames Tunnel

Papier-mache box Thames Tunnel

Papier-mache box Thames Tunnel

Papier-mache box Thames Tunnel

Cheroot case Thames Tunnel

Papier-mache cheroot case of Thames Tunnel

Thames Tunnel Peepshow with barge

A contemporary Peepshow, circa 1852, with Queen Victoria's barge

Marc Brunel autograph letter

A short letter written by M.I. Brunel, dated 16 January 1839

Cheque signed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel

A cheque from Isambard Kingdom Brunel dated December 8th 1835

SS Great Eastern Grinding Wheel

Original grinding wheel from The Great Eastern Yard, 1858

Commemorative cotton/linen handkerchief

Cream cotton/linen handkerchief with printed design in red, commemorating: "The Thames Tunnel opened the 25th day of March 1843.” The central illustration of the grand staircase is most similar to an engraving by Thomas H. Ellis, with additional figures added to the scene. The diagram of the Thames Tunnel is similar to one by William Westall. The quality of the handkerchief suggests it was a mass-produced, relatively cheap souvenir for visitors to the Thames Tunnel, that could have been bought within the tunnel itself.

Sectional Model of Second Thames Tunnel Shield

Model of part of Marc Brunel's Thames tunnel second shield installed 1836 Scale 1/2" to 1ft
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