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Monday, 21 October, 2002, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Clarkson backs Brunel as top Briton
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel: 'Influence can still be seen'
BBC presenter Jeremy Clarkson has nominated Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel as his great Briton.

In a BBC2 programme to be broadcast at 2100BST on Tuesday, the Top Gear presenter stakes his claim for the Bristol-based engineer.

The programme is part of an ongoing series to find the greatest Briton of the last 2,000 years.

Presenters offer their suggestions, before the public are asked to vote for their preference.

Great Western

The top 10 choices are: Brunel, Churchill, Cromwell, Darwin, Princess Diana, Elizabeth I, John Lennon, Admiral Lord Nelson, Sir Isaac Newton and Shakespeare.

Brunel, (1806-59) the son of a French engineer, was born in Portsmouth and educated at Hove and the Collège Henri Quatre, Paris, before returning to England in 1823.

He planned the Clifton Suspension Bridge - posthumously completed in 1864 using chains from his own Hungerford Suspension Bridge.

In 1838 Brunel designed the Great Western steamship, which remained the world's largest vessel until 1899.

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson chooses Brunel as his Great Briton

In addition, he was responsible for the redesign and construction of many of Britain's major docks, including those at Bristol, Monkwearmouth, Cardiff and Milford Haven.

But he is probably best remembered for the network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts he built for the wide-gauge Great Western Railway.

Mike Rowland of the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre said: "You only have to look around you to see the lasting impact he still has on us today.

"If you travel by rail from Bristol to London you see his work all around you and then there's the huge effect he had on the infrastructure of the city docks.

"His broad gauge was actually more efficient and safe but it was discarded - wrongly in my view.

"Also, not many people know that during the Crimean War he helped Florence Nightingale by helping to design and support a pre-fabricated hospital for the injured."


Click here to go to Bristol
See also:

13 Aug 02 | England
31 Jan 02 | England
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