In the 1980s I became fascinated by Victorian engineering in general, and the works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel in particular. And when, in a book, I came across a reproduction of a 19th century print claiming that Brunel deliberately aligned the Box Tunnel such that the rising sun shone through it on his birthday, I had to find out if it was true. Years later, and having spent hundreds of hours learning how to do the analysis, I was sad to conclude that the story was not true.
Eventually, with the help of Excel, I was able to compute and display the positions of the tunnel and sun for any given date and time. It turns out that the sun does penetrate the tunnel - which is two miles long, dead straight and inclined upwards at a slope of 1:100 towards the east - a few days earlier than Brunel’s birthday, and I started to wonder whether that date was a significant one for Brunel.
The results of this research are described in an article appearing in the December Genealogists’ Magazine; the article may be found by clicking on the button below.
If my whimsical conclusions are correct, then consideration of that fact gives me at least some comfort in an uncertain world, where reality is completely out to lunch...
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Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs