Director’s Diary: Sophia Brunel does the engineering

With the onset of warmer weather the effect of the gas in the tunnel began to be felt more acutely. There is a greater number of disabled men than at any time before. During the night the gas burned fiercely and with a roaring like distant thunder. Heywood died of typhus and Page is evidently sinking very fast . . . It affects the eyes. Wood, a bricklayer, fell senseless to the floor. The assistants complain of being affected in different ways. Short . . . reported himself unable to work. Afflicted like Huggins and all the others Bowyer died today or yesterday, a good man. Sullivan—sent him to hospital he being almost blind. Williams, the foreman of the first shift, gone. The men, the best men, are very much affected. Williams, whose behaviour had not been normal since the flood, had to be taken to a lunatic asylum ‘as being too dangerous to be left out of doors’.

Engineering by Mrs. Brunel

Sophia was seriously concerned by the toll the work was taking on her husband’s health. Ever since the resumption of the work he had awoken every two hours to go to the tunnel office and check the latest report. She devised a pulley, a cord, a bucket and a bell outside the bedroom window. When the bell rang and woke him, Marc pulled up the bucket on the end of the rope; he inspected the latest samples of earth and the night assistant’s report, put any instructions of his own into the bucket, sent it down again and hoped to be asleep before it reached the ground.

Engineering by Year 6
This week STEM Ambassadors devise a session for 60 young children with special learning needs: some practical engineering  and a pulley system like Sophia’s. We also trial What I am Is…. a school assembly session challenging gender stereotypes.
A warm welcome to our new volunteer, retired lecturer from Plymouth University and recently moved to Rotherhithe and to our new guides for Heritage boat trips. Courtesy of Thames Clipper, Brunel’s London happens every day and Brunel’s Thames Tunnel river walk and descent three times a week. Cabaret and cocktails in the underground theatre on Saturday.  Follow links and see website for further details.