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28 October 2014
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 IKB by JC Horsley Bristol Museums and Art Gallery
A Wessex train will be named after IKB

Hats off to Brunel

By Liz Lewis
All Bristolians know Isambard Kingdom Brunel is the brilliant engineer behind the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge, the ground-breaking ss Great Britain and Great Western Railway, but there's so much more to know about the little man with big ideas.


To celebrate his 200th anniversary in 2006, an extravaganza of Brunel-centred events including exhibitions, educational projects, publications and arts projects is planned for  Bristol and the South West.

Brunel 200 will also lead a series of national celebrations, making links with activities taking place across the country.

"Brunel captured the public imagination like no other engineer and he remains an inspiration today to the people of Britain and to innovators of all kinds around the world," said Leslie Perrin, Chairman of Brunel 200.

"Brunel 200 will ensure that Brunel's achievements and continuing influence are celebrated throughout 2006 and beyond."

Leslie Perrin, chair of Brunel 200
Leslie Perrin dons a stove pipe hat

In addition to the £2m budget for the Brunel 200 programme, another £15m is being invested in Bristol with a new visitor centre at the Clifton Suspension Bridge, a renewed ss Great Britain, and the digitisation of a significant part of the Brunel archive at the University of Bristol. 

Major funding support for the project comes from The Urban Cultural Programme (Arts Council of England and Millennium Commission) and includes an earmarked grant of £980,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for Brunel 200.

A wider celebration of Brunel’s life and work is also in development under the Brunel 200 South West initiative, led by BCDP and its partner Culture South West. The partnership will oversee celebrations across the region, including the culmination of the Brunel 200 celebrations in Swindon in September 2006.

Wessex Trains played its part in the launch of the Brunel 200 celebrations by painting one of its trains in an unique picture-livery and naming it  'Isambard Kingdom Brunel'. 

The train will run from Penzance to Bristol Temple Meads. On the launch day it was met by guests of Brunel 200 before the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Simon Cook,  formally named the train.

And almost 200 years after his birth,  Isambard's dream of integrated transport, using Bristol as a stop off point between London and New York, has been realised.

Leslie Perrin donned Brunel's trade mark 'stove pipe hat to travel by train from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads, before joining the first flight from Bristol to New York and in so doing became the first person to travel between London and New York via the route of which Brunel dreamed almost 200 years ago.

Flip through our photo gallery of top Brunel sites in Bristol. The link is at the top right of this page.

Bristol is to get a new Brunel art trail linking Temple Meads with the ss Great Britain on the harbour. Click on the link top right to read all about it.

last updated: 07/07/05
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