Other sites in London:
SS Great Eastern Launch Site
Just across the river from the Brunel Museum is the construction and launch site of Brunel’s last project, The Great Eastern. The Great Eastern was an iron sailing steamship and the biggest ship in the world for half a century. It carried enough coal to steam from England to Australia and back again without re-fuelling and was six times bigger than anything else afloat. At seven hundred feet it was longer than his railway terminus at Paddington, and was launched sideways in 1858 because the Thames is not wide enough.
The great ship was broken up, but Thames Clippers will take you to the original launch ramps, now landscaped into gardens by the river pier. The information board, timbers and a very large chain are not visible from the river, so disembark at Masthouse Terrace on your way to Greenwich, or before turning back for the City.
Elsewhere in the UK:
Clifton Suspension Bridge
At just age 23, the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol was Brunel’s first solo project, and his second after the Thames Tunnel. The young engineer’s ambitious design was set to be the highest and longest bridge in the world – but the build did not go to plan. It took 33 years to complete the crossing, which opened five years after Brunel’s death. The bridge is free to cross on foot and £1 by motor vehicle. The free Visitor Centre is open daily from 10am-5pm. Free tours take place on weekends and bank holidays whilst the adventurous can book paid experiences inside the structure during the summer.
Royal Albert Bridge
Finished in 1859, the Royal Albert Bridge structure is Grade 1 Listed and internationally recognised as totally unique, and the only one in the world. IK Brunel designed the bridge using innovative and ground-breaking technology. The lenticular trusses designed by Brunel were an ingenious engineering solution and were the last structure he created.
The construction of the Royal Albert Bridge opened Cornwall up to the rest of the world, enabling the railways created during the Industrial Revolution to connect the country. The Royal Albert Bridge is still a key connector with 74 trains a day.
Established to celebrate the engineering legacy of the Tamar Estuary’s historic bridges, the Bridging the Tamar Visitor and Learning Centre opened in 2019. The exhibition Centre interprets the heritage of both the 20th century Tamar Bridge and Brunel’s iconic 19th century Royal Albert Bridge. The free to enter Centre, situated on the Devon Cornwall border, is open seven days a week and runs a programme of public events, guided tours and school workshops. A grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) made the project possible, with the remainder being funded by the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee.
The Brunel family burial plot in Kensal Green Cemetery, London W10 4RA
Several generations of the descendents of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel are buried in a plot in Kensal Green Cemetery, London. The monument, a block of Carrara marble with lead lettering, was restored in an initiative by the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, with the co-operation of the landowners, the General Cemetery Company, and financial support from English Heritage, the Royal Society and the Brunel Museum. Lord Gladwyn, the Brunels’ direct descendant, unveiled the restored monument, and Robert Hulse, of the Brunel Museum, led the tributes.