Newly catalogued papers of Gilbert Blount
Brunel University Archives and Special Collections is pleased to announce the cataloguing of our Gilbert Blount papers, which have been arranged and catalogued archivally for the first time. The collection consists of only one box – a brief glimpse into the early working life of the young Gilbert Blount under the Brunels in 1840 – 1841, during the building of their Thames Tunnel.
Gilbert Robert Blount (1819–1876) was born at Mapledurham, Oxon, on 2nd March 1819. He was educated at in Somerset. He began his professional training as a civil engineer with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, working on the construction of the Thames Tunnel (Rotherhithe to Wapping). He was the Superintendent of Construction in 1841 and, during one of the many floods, narrowly escaped drowning.
He decided to leave civil engineering in favour of architecture. In Nov 1842 he became apprenticed to architect Anthony Salvin. By 1849, Blount was working independently, including a period as architect to the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster. With a resurgence of Catholic church building in England, he worked on new churches throughout England, greatly influenced by Pugin.
These papers belonged to Gilbert Blount, created during his time working for Brunel on the Thames Tunnel. The small collection consists of letters, diaries and handwritten notes on engineering topics. They were donated to Brunel University Library in Nov 1974 by Michael May, a grandson of Gilbert Blount. Items relating to the Thames Tunnel were extracted from the rest of Blount’ papers, the destination of which is unknown. “Afterwards it seems my grandfather designed churches primarily, so that papers, diaries etc in this connection would not be of interest to the university” [Letter from Michael May to Professor Urry, Brunel University, 14/11/1974]. Now in Brunel University Archives and Special Collections. Rearranged and catalogued by Phaedra Casey, Archivist, April 2022.
Our catalogue is available here.
Some of Blount's church papers are at the University of Pennsylvania.
You might also be interested in The Brunel Museum