Brunel’s Thames Tunnel drawings offered at Bonhams

Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s original drawings for the Thames Tunnel are offered at Bonhams.

The Thames Tunnel in east London (built between 1825-1843) was the first in the world to be constructed under a body of water.

Brunel Thames Tunnel

The Brunels came up with a new way of building tunnels 

The Brunels' breakthrough was to use a tunnelling shield, which protected workers from cave-ins. 

Amazingly the technology is still in use today – as is the tunnel itself. Up to 30 trains an hour use it.

The father and son team where at the cutting edge of civil engineering during the 1800s.

Isambard would go on to become world famous for a string of projects, including the Great Western Railway and the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The collection offered in the November 15 Fine Books sale in London includes Marc’s original sketches for the shield as well as watercolours by Isambard and other members of the planning team.

It’s expected to make around £50,000-100,000 ($65,901-131,802).

Matthew Haley, Bonhams’ head of books and manuscripts, said: "This is an extraordinarily important archive of one of the great engineering feats of the pre-Victorian era – not just in Britain but in the world.

“The Thames Tunnel can be seen as Marc Isambard Brunel's last great project, and the launch pad for the meteoric career of his son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel."

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