The Many Legacies of Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Here at Brunelís Old Station, we are extremely proud to have the honour of working in one of the UKís most historic venues, built by legendary British civil engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Brunelís Old Stationís Passenger Shed, once a working railway terminus, is now home to spectacular, large scale events and Bristol conferences, and Brunelís very own boardroom has become a regular hot-spot for high profile meetings, talks and presentations, attracting a wide variety of businesses from across the UK.

This leads us to think about the other great engineering pursuits of Brunel, which extend beyond railway lines and include breath taking bridges, tunnels and ships.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Brunel Suspension Bridge

The famous Clifton Suspension Bridge spans Avon Gorge, linking Clifton to Leigh Woods. Spanning over 700 ft and nominally 200 ft above the River Avon, it had the longest span of any bridge in the world at the time of construction.

Sadly Brunel did not live to see the bridge finished, although his colleagues and admirers felt it would be a fitting memorial to raise new funds and complete the design. The bridge was completed in 1864, five years after Brunel's death. The Clifton Suspension Bridge still stands, and over four million vehicles traverse it every year.

SS Great Britain


The SS Great Britain launched in Bristol in 1843 as a groundbreaking naval ship. Its design combined new technologies in a way which transformed marine travel. Brunel came up with the idea of combining of a screw propeller, an iron hull, and an enormous 1000-horsepower steam engine. The SS Great Britain was an immediate hit! On her first transatlantic tip from UK to America, she broke the speed record as the fastest ship to sail the Atlantic. SS Great Britain continued to sail until 1886 and travelled around the world 32 times. She was abandoned in the Falkland Islands in 1937 but in 1970 a salvage effort brought her back to Bristol and the dock where she was originally built.

The Thames Tunnel

Brunel Thames Tunnel

Brunel worked as an assistant, alongside his father, who was chief engineer on a project to create an underwater tunnel beneath London's River Thames. Isambardís father, Marc, designed an ingenious tunnelling shield which protected workers from cave-ins. However, the creation of the tunnel did not run smoothly, with Isambard Kingdom Brunel narrowly missing death in 1828 following severe flooding. He was seriously injured, and spent six months recuperating. The event stopped work on the tunnel for several years. Luckily, Brunel recovered, much to our delight- as where would we be today without our fabulous landmark venue in Bristol, the largest in-door event space in the city centre!

However modern the events we host, the history and character of Brunel remains etched in the foundations of the Old Station and remind us every day of what a skilled and innovative engineer he really was.

If you are interested in being part of our history, and hosting a Bristol conference, event, exhibition or meeting at Brunelís Old Station, please contact or call our booking line on 08446 622 970.

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