FOUR HUNDRED thousand votes took Isambard Kingdom Brunel to second place in the BBC's Greatest Briton poll in November, finishing just 50,000 behind Winston Churchill after an eight week campaign.
Spurred on by TV motoring guru and civil engineering convert Jeremy Clarkson, the size of the vote for Brunel surprised the bookies and confounded supporters of the other top 10 finalists. These included (in finishing order): Diana, Princess of Wales, Charles Darwin, William Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, Queen Elizabeth I, John Lennon, Horatio Nelson and Oliver Cromwell.
The final analysis of the vote showed that Brunel picked up substantial votes from voters aged between 25 and 55, helped by campaigns by Brunel University, NCE and the ICE.
Clarkson was also voted the best advocate in the Greatest Briton showdown.
''Brunel built modern Britain, and Britain built the world, which means that Brunel built the modern world, ' said Clarkson.
'That makes him a pretty damned great Briton in my book.'