Famous People – Isambard Kingdom Brunel – Contrasting Photographs

Bray-Greystones cliff Afef Abrougui via Compfight

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born in 1806. He engineered the railway line between Bray and Greystones which had a significant impact on Greystones. His father was French left France in a hurry to escape the French revolution. His mother had been accused of being a spy and went to England where they first met. Later they spent some time in debtors’ prison. They had money problems when their sawmill burned down. In later life Brunel found it hard to delegate. He worked too hard. He often slept on a chair. The students are familiar with an iconic photo of a robust Isambard from 1857 smoking a cigar. You can see that photo HERE

Students contrast this photo with one where he is holding a walking stick and suffering from ill health taken ten days before he died. They are not surprised to hear he died at 53 shortly after the photo was taken. Students are always vehement in blaming smoking for his demise! You can see that photo HERE

The Coming of the Railway

IMG_4810.jpg Stephen_G via Compfight

Greystones was put on the map

with the coming of the railway.

The railway was built between 1854 and 1856

and joined Bray to Greystones.

Building the railway was a difficult job

because the railway line had to pass through solid rock.


Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) was the engineer.

Tunnels were blasted through the rock using explosives.

The train station was built on the line

dividing the properties of two landowners:

the La Touche Family of Bellevue House to the East of Greystones

and the Hawkins-Whitshed family of Killincarrig House to the North.


It was only when the railway was officially opened in 1855

that many more people came to live in Greystones.

Many of them worked in Dublin and went there by train.

This is still true today.

The Dart first came to Greystones in 2000 AD

and Greystones continues to grow.


Click on this LINK to see some great pictures of the Greystones railway on the Greystones Guide and HERE for more details on the coming of the railway to Greystones on Peter McNiff’s blog featuring Noel Kennedy’s ‘History of Greystones’.

Famous People: Isambard Kingdom Brunel


Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: LEOL30 via Compfight

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born in 1806.

He was an engineer who designed steamships, bridges and tunnels.

He engineered the railway line between Bray and Greystones.

This was a challenging job

as tunneling through rock was needed.

The arrival of the railway in Greystones

has made our town what it is today.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Nagesh Kamath via Compfight

You can read more about Isambard Kingdom Brunel HERE 

on the BBC Primary History website.