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Grave of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel
Kensal Green Cemetary, London, UK
Grave of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel
associated engineer
Sir Marc Isambard Brunel
date  1849
era  Victorian  |  category  Grave of Engineer  |  reference  TQ233824
photo  by threefoursixninefour (own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikipedia
French-born engineer Sir Marc Isambard Brunel and his only son, renowned British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, are both buried in west Londonís Kensal Green Cemetery. The grave they share with other family members is marked by an elegant block of white marble, designed by Sir Marc. His crowning achievement in engineering was the construction of the Thames Tunnel.
Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849) was born into a farming family at Hacqueville in Normandy, France, on 25th April 1769. As the younger son, tradition ó and his parents ó decreed he should train for the priesthood. When it became clear his abilities inclined to practical rather than spiritual subjects, he became a sea cadet and joined the French Navy.
In 1792, his tour of duty came to an end and, as a Royalist sympathiser during the French Revolution (1789-99), he was lucky to escape France alive. He arrived in New York, USA, in September 1793 and took American citizenship in August 1796, afterwards becoming New York cityís chief engineer.
In 1799, he sailed to Britain, armed with ideas for the mass production of pulley blocks for naval rigging. He devised various engineering machines (Pulley-block Factory machinery) to replace manual labour, turning repetitive tasks into industrial manufacturing lines, economically producing items of consistent quality. He later experimented with steam navigation, and the design of docks and bridges including a suspension bridge to withstand hurricanes at the island of Bourbon (now Reunion) in the Indian Ocean.
However, his greatest achievement was constructing a road tunnel beneath the River Thames from Rotherhithe to Wapping. Two previous tunnels had been commenced and abandoned owing to water ingress. In January 1818, Brunel patented his design for a cast iron tunnelling shield and work began in February 1825. His only son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, also worked on the project, which was completed in March 1843, after many difficulties and deaths. In recognition of his success, Brunel senior was awarded the order of the Legion d'Honneur in 1829 and a knighthood in 1841.
Brunel senior suffered partial paralysis from strokes in November 1842 and in 1845. On 12th December 1849, his third stroke proved fatal. He died at his home, 1 Park Prospect, St Jamesís Park in London, and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery. The plot is Square 41, Row 1, Grave 8590.
Sir Marc designed the graveís memorial. It is a rectangular block of white Carrara marble with a shallow pyramidal top and raised lead lettering. His epitaph reads:
He has raised his own monument by his public works at Portsmouth, Chatham and the Thames Tunnel.
The General Cemetery of All Souls in Kensal Green was constructed following an Act of Parliament passed in July 1832, in response to the capitalís growing need for burial grounds. The first funeral here took place in January 1833, and burials and cremations are still carried out daily.
Planned as Londonís first garden cemetery, it has been managed by the same organisation ó the General Cemetery Company, founded in 1830 by barrister George Frederick Carden (1798-1874) ó throughout its existence.
On 15th September 1859, only 10 years after his father, Isambard Kingdom Brunel died following a stroke 10 days before. He was buried in the grave plot with his parents. Other family members were later interred with them. The memorial inscription records the following:
Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849)
Dame Sophia Brunel (1775-1855), wide of Sir Marc
Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-59)
Mary Elizabeth Brunel (1813-81), wife of Isambard
Isambard Brunel junior (1837-1902), barrister and son of Isambard
Henry Marc Brunel (1842-1903), civil engineer and son of Isambard
Georgina Geils Donald (1834-1911), wife of Isambard junior
Lilian Sarah James (1875-1929), niece of Isambard junior
In September 1989, the Brunel family tomb was Grade II listed.
By 2009, the monument was in a poor state of repair and an appeal was launched to fund its restoration. Rectifying the effects of subsidence is likely to cost around £15,000 and the appeal is still (2016) underway.
Research: ECPK
bibliography
"Memoir of the Life of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel" by Richard Beamish, 1862, reprinted by Cambridge University Press, 2013
"Obituary. Sir Marc Isambart [sic] Brunel, 1769-1849", Minutes of the Proceedings of the ICE, Vol.10, pp.78-81, London, 1851
www.gracesguide.co.uk
www.historicengland.org.uk
www.kensalgreen.co.uk
reference sources   DNBIKB
Location

Grave of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel