BRUNEL, Isambard Kingdom, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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BRUNEL, Isambard Kingdom (1806-1859). Civil engineer.
Autograph Letter (third person) to Sir [James] Willoughby Gordon, 2 pages 8vo (old mounting strip to the reverse, not affecting the text), 18 Duke Street, 11 April 1836. Enquiring whether he has seen the line at Wormwood Scrubs and if it would be convenient to visit him in the afternoon.

In 1833, Brunel was appointed chief engineer of the Great Western Railway, and as his practice expanded, he established his design office at Duke St in 1835. After his marriage to Mary Horsley in 1836, the family lived in the rooms above. The design of the Great Western Railway linking Bristol to London took up much of Brunel's time and his proposed route met with some objections, notably from Eton College who were concerned that building the line would encourage the boys to 'seek the doubtful dissipations of London town.' The Great Western Railway Act was finally passed on 31 August 1835. Brunel's vision was that the Great Western route would ultimately link London with New York via Bristol, by train and steamship. The route he surveyed for the Company was designed to be as straight and as level as possible, to enable locomotives to achive maximum speeds. However, progress was slow and the costs escalated, partly because of the amount of land that needed to be purchased to implement his broad gauge railway.

Sir James Willoughby Gordon was a former army officer who was created a baronet in 1818. He had acquired an 80-year lease on a villa in 1809 in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. In his capacity as public secretary to Prince Frederick, Duke of York, he once hosted a dinner for Alexander I of Russia at Gordon House.
[No: 26404]


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