Brunel – a true “crafter” of the industrial age!

So what exactly is a “crafter”? A “crafter” – in hubbub lingo – is someone with exciting and ambitious ideas for projects which often need funding to succeed. Like a wrought-iron bridge topped with sphinxes. Or even a railway line connecting commercial centres across the Atlantic…

Such was the man that Brunel envisaged Victorian passengers being able to purchase a single railway ticket between London Paddington and New York! The only change would come at the small town of Neyland in South Wales where passengers would swap the Great Western Railway for a Great Western steamship to traverse the Atlantic.

But imaginations like Brunel’s need funding to bear fruit. As great as his ideas undoubtedly were, he consistently struggled to find the money he needed to see his projects through. His legacy is one of a tireless “crafter” who was frequently let down by elite political games/scheming going on over his head. Funnily enough, the very same problem that afflicts the “crafters” of today!

Just take the Clifton Suspension Bridge, for example. A sure bet for any whistle-stop tour of the UK, I’m sure you’ll agree. Work on the bridge began in 1831 and yet, famously, Brunel would never live to see perhaps his most majestic creation completed. Construction was put on hold in the wake of the Queen Square riots in Bristol that same year; this drove away investors and left the project paralysed for the following 3 decades! Only after his death in 1859 did his colleagues and admirers at the Institution of Civil Engineers come to the conclusion that the bridge might serve as a fitting memorial. They managed to find new sources of sponsorship and work recommenced in earnest in 1862. It would be completed shortly thereafter in 1864 – a mere five years after Brunel’s death.

It is interesting to note that these riots were triggered by the refusal of the House of Lords to sanction the Second Reform Bill, which as Wikipedia explains:

…aimed to get rid of some of Britain’s rotten boroughs and give our fast-growing industrial towns such as Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford and Leeds, greater representation in the House of Commons.

Sounds reasonable enough…

Parallels can be drawn here between students whose funding is being increasingly squeezed as a result of modern-day elites (in the financial sector) causing elites (in the political sector) to tighten their – and by extension OUR – belts. The situation can only get worse as riots make the general populace distrustful of and negative towards young people in general. So where does Sponsorcraft fit into all this? We at hubbub are hoping to find the next generation of “crafters” and give them the platform they need to obtain the funding they need to fend off the cuts, the downsizing of institutions and the suspicion of sponsors. Student funding is something that needs to be addressed at two levels. On the one hand, you have the problem of tuition fees – sadly, something we at Sponsorcraft can do very little about. And on the other, you have the problem of securing sufficient funding to meet students’ (extracurricular) needs and ambitions. We are aiming to solve the latter problem.

So how does all this relate to the “crafters” of the modern age? Well, the very first modern bungee jumps were made on 1 April 1979 from Brunel’s own Clifton Suspension Bridge, by members of Oxford University’s Dangerous Sports Club. This was a group of adventurers and extreme sports pioneers (most active in the late 70s and 80s) who invented modern bungee jumping! Although bungee jumping would remain a distrusted novelty for several years, it has since spawned a craze among thrill-seekers, young and old alike, and become an established industry at tourist sites around the world.

Once again, with a little imagination and funding, there’s no guessing what you can do. What starts out as a bizarre hobby or a bit of fun between friends can really take off.

We at hubbub hope to enable the pioneers of tomorrow to make their mark. Today.

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