Biography of the engineer Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849), father of the better-known Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Although born in France, Marc Brunel was forced to emigrate to America after the French Revolution and found success as an engineer, eventually being appointed Chief Engineer to New York City. In 1799 he moved to England, and after some financial difficulties also found success here with his sub-aqueous Thames Tunnel, the first of its kind in the world, between Rotherhithe and Wapping, eventually opened in 1843 for pedestrians and still used as a tunnel for underground trains. Beamish’s memoir traces Brunel’s earlier life in France and America, and covers all of his British undertakings (block making machinery, early steamship, etc. in detail.
Richard Beamish (1798-1873) was born in Ireland, and educated in England at Clifton and the Royal Military Academy. His father bought him a Commission in the Coldstream Guards and he served overseas in Belgium and with the Army of Occupation in France 1815-1816. After returning to England he was placed on the half pay list in 1818. In 1824, having become proficient in mathematics and scale drawing at the Academy, he decided to try Civil Engineering as a career. Intensive study at the family home in Ireland, Beamish determined to gain practical experience and travelled to London where a number of major projects were in hand. After viewing the Docks and London Bridge, an introduction to Marc Brunel at the Thames Tunnel resulted in Beamish being taken on for a one month trial, the results of which were so satisfactory to all concerned that Richard was appointed assistant resident engineer to young Isambard Kingdom Brunel. When work on the tunnel was suspended in 1828 Beamish continued his association with the Brunels, undertaking many draft reports and assisting in various projects. On resumption of the tunnel works in 1834, at the request of the Brunels, Beamish became resident engineer based in Rotherhithe, until ill health forced his resignation in 1836, the year in which he was elected a Member of the Royal Society,