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Brunel makes Tracks

Meet Isambard Kingdom Brunel at your school! Your students will meet an actor in the role of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and will learn all about his life, discover why he is called the man who changed the world: who changed the shape of our cities and how we live, who even changed time and joined continents together. He describes how he built the world: bridges, tunnels, steamships, locomotives, railways and hospitals, the fastest railway in the world, and the biggest ship in the world three times.

During the 40 minute performance Mr Brunel begins with a story of his life and Victorian times, laced with anecdote about narrow escapes from danger. He describes how he helped his father build the first tunnel under a river anywhere in the world, here in Rotherhithe. He also describes building the railways, and the difficulties he had persuading people that their heads would not fall when travelling at speed in tunnels. The same people could not believe steam ships capable of crossing the Atlantic, but Mr Brunel explains how it is done. All very technical, but apparently its something to do with the size of your bottom…?

A veteran bridge builder, Mr Brunel describes the different properties of beam, arch, suspension and cantilever, and illustrates their relative strengths and weaknesses by getting the children to build them. His previous bridges were built in brick, timber and iron, but a chronic shortage of funds means he is now making temporary structures out of children.

This session, with modifications, has been performed to and with, young people of all ages, from KS1 to sixth form. It is an accessible study not only of engineering, but of Victorian life in all its grandeur and squalor. Did you know, for instance, that in his first project Mr Brunel had men working in raw sewage? But don’t worry, we have told him to clean his act up…


  • London zones 1–4 £350
  • London zones 5–6 £400
  • Outside London £450

How to book

To book, please email three preferred dates and the number of pupils you wish to bring to or telephone 020 7231 3840

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