FOUR HUNDRED thousand votes took Isambard Kingdom Brunel to second place in the BBC's Greatest Briton poll last week, finishing just 50,000 behind Winston Churchill after an eight week campaign.
Spurred on by TV motoring guru and civil engineering convert Jeremy Clarkson, votes for Brunel kept flooding in during Sunday's grand final to help him claim nearly a quarter of the total 1.6M votes cast.
With nearly twice as many votes as third placed Princess Diana, the size of the vote for Brunel surprised the bookies and confounded supporters of the other top ten finalists. These included (in finishing order) Darwin, Shakespeare, Newton, Elizabeth I, John Lennon, Nelson and Cromwell.
The final analysis of the vote showed that Brunel picked up substantial votes over Churchill from voters aged between 25 and 55, helped by campaigns by Brunel University, NCE and the ICE. However, younger voters and those over 55 preferred the 'defender of democracy', perhaps swayed by backing from David Beckham and an international campaign by the Churchill Society.
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.'
(See Comment page 15)