Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, French-born English engineer and inventor, 1840.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Commemorative medal, celebrating the opening of the Thames Tunnel, 1843. Brunel (1769-1849) and his son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859), constructed the first Thames tunnel designed for foot passengers. Construction began in 1825 and was a long and hazardous operation. The river broke through on several occasions, flooding the workings and causing loss of life. Work was suspended for long periods, giving rise to the pejorative nickname 'the great bore'. Eventually the work was completed in 1843 and its opening was marked with considerable ceremonial including a banquet held in the tunnel itself, under the river Thames.