Bristol

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was star pupil, says 1821 school report

Isambard Kingdom Brunel's report from his tutor in Paris said he showed a lot of diligence Image copyright Ss Great Britain
Image caption Isambard Kingdom Brunel's tutor in Paris said he showed a lot of diligence

Isambard Kingdom Brunel's school report from 1821 shows his teachers already had "brilliant expectations" for the future famous engineer.

The report from the Institute of Mr Massin in Paris said the teenager showed "a lot of diligence" and was a favourite with teachers.

Brunel's father sent him to France to study when he was 14.

The report is among items donated by a private collector to a new £7.1m Brunel centre being built in Bristol.

French engineer Sir Marc Isambard Brunel sent his son to France to study in 1820.

Dated "2nd semester of the classic year 1821" from the Institute of Mr Massin - Brunel's tutor - it shows he excelled in maths, drawing and German, and his behaviour was "beyond reproach".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed ships, railways, bridges and tunnels - among other things
Image copyright Adam Gasson
Image caption Brunel's half-smoked cheroot cigar and cigar case have been donated to the new museum and visitor centre

"Teachers are completely satisfied with this young man's behaviour and he provides brilliant expectations for the future," the report reads.

"Unfortunately it doesn't say 'could do better'," said Rhian Tritton, director of Museum, Conservation and Education for the ss Great Britain Trust, who said she had been secretly hoping it might.

Image copyright Adam Gasson
Image caption The silverware set is complete apart from the centrepiece - a square metre of silver gilt - which was melted down to pay for Brunel's memorial window in Westminster Abbey

"It says that he is working extremely hard and that is one of the keys of Brunel's successes. He worked and worked and worked. He didn't give up if he didn't get it right first time."

The report is one of several artefacts that will go on show to the general public for the first time in the new museum, "Being Brunel", which is being built on Bristol's harbourside alongside the ss Great Britain - the engineer's iron-hulled steamship.

It will house more than 14,000 exhibits from the University of Bristol and about 1,500 personal artefacts donated by a private collector, Clive Richards.

Image copyright Ss Great Britain
Image caption This daguerreotype, taken between 1843 and 1849, shows Brunel's father, Sir Marc Isambard Brunel

Others revealed on Tuesday, as demolition work begins to clear the way for the new museum, include one of his famous cigars, half-smoked, found inside a leather-and-aluminium cigar case with "I.K.B Athenaeum Club Pall Mall" stamped on the front.

Brunel, a 40-a-day smoker, did a lot of networking at the Athenaeum Club, close to his London offices.

Ms Tritton said: "The image that everyone recognises about Brunel is that famous image of him standing in front of the [ss} Great Eastern's chains, with a cigar in his mouth... The cigar is really central to his image."

Image copyright Easy Tiger Creative
Image caption The new £7.1m attraction is set to open alongside the ss Great Britain in Bristol in 2017

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