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Brunel's Great Escapes

* In 1828, while Brunel was working in the Thames Tunnel, water broke through at the open end of the tunnel, knocking him unconscious and pushing him towards the closed end. Brunel narrowly escaped death, as the current carried him up a service staircase where workers pulled him out.

* In 1843, Brunel performed a magic trick for some children and inhaled a half-sovereign coin which stuck in his windpipe. Forceps failed to dislodge it and he invented a special coughing machine which was used, weeks later, to remove the coin while he was strapped to a board upside down.

* In 1841, a fire broke out in the lumberyard next to Temple Meads station.

When Brunel heard about it he immediately set out from Chippenham, arriving two hours later and directing the fire crew to move timber away from his building. When he arrived, the fire was so large that it could be seen 12 miles away. Brunel managed to save the building.

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