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Brunel: Victorian Hero or Fraud?

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Catalogue Number:  BAM1316
Producer:  Blue Ant Media
Subject:  Biography, Canadian History, Canadian Social Studies, Documentary, Engineering, History, Science, Social Studies, World History
Language:  English
Grade Level:  9 - 12, Post Secondary, Adult
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  2020
Running Time:  93:00


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Isambard Kingdom Brunel was a British civil engineer who is considered  to be one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history. Responsible for building the Great Western Railway main line, introducing regular steamship travel across the Atlantic, building the first tunnel under a major river, and constructing docks, harbors and bridges, Brunel’s designs helped Britain to expand and grow as the powerhouse of the world. This 90-minute special will tell the story of Brunel the engineer – his successes and failures, at home and abroad – as well using personal diaries to detail the fascinating and revealing story of the man. 

Brunel had a colossal amount of energy and the determination to carry out ambitious project. Without his foresight and imagination, it is possible that nineteenth-century Britain might have been very different. But this great engineer was not without flaws. Research depicts a designer who was confrontational, dictatorial, and prone to making over-quick decisions. Frequently his projects would go over budget, and many of his enterprises were disasters - his greatest bridge designs were but rarely of such importance that they became templates for wider adoption. 

Shockingly, the reputation of Brunel has recently been questioned by historians, who suggests many of his achievements may have been exaggerated. 

Have we bought into the mythology of a Victorian hero? Using letters, sketchbooks, diaries and historical accounts we will build a picture of the man behind the buildings.


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