Brunel was one of the great innovative engineers of the 19th century. His father Marc employed him in his own firm from age 16, and arranged good mechanical experience with Maudslay. Babbage, a correspondent, did some experiments to help confirm Brunel’s preference for broad-gauge rail track. Murchison, Paxton (whom Brunel admired) and Talbot were also correspondents — Talbot helpfully influential with one project, but disputing his own compensation with another. Mendelssohn and Schinkel visited Brunel at Wapping. Bazalgette was one of his few real friends. So was Stephenson, despite their commercial rivalry; both drove themselves to premature death.