Brunel University

In 2016, Brunel celebrated 50 years as a university. However, our history can be traced back
much further to 1798 through our predecessor colleges like Borough Road College, Maria Grey
College, Shore ditch College and the West London Institute of Higher Education and as well as
through Acton Technical College then Brunel College. Our rise since 1966 has been impressive
and our reputation grows year by year. Now it’s a university of 12,746 students – 3,309 students
engaged in postgraduate and research study – our special approach is to combine academic study
with the practical, entrepreneurial and imaginative approach pioneered by Isambard Kingdom
Brunel.

The decision to be named after Isambard Kingdom Brunel was taken after much
discussion. Rather than name the new College after a location, Dr. Topping, the first Vice
Chancellor of Brunel University (and former Principal of Brunel College) petitioned that the
name should be of a well-known person preferably an engineer or scientist associated in some
way with Middlesex or Acton. Agreement was reached in March 1957 that person would be
Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) is one of the great British engineers of the 19th century.

Isambard was born into an industrious family in 1806. His mother Sophia Kingdom was working
for the Royal Navy and his father Marc Brunel being a prominent French engineer. Isambard
took on formal training as an engineer and went on to build twenty-five railway lines, over a
hundred bridges, including five suspension bridges, eight pier and dock systems, three ships and
a pre-fabricated army field hospital. As he was a keen social engineer He built housing estates,
churches and hospitals.

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