Isambard Kingdom Brunel FRS 9 April 1806 – 15 September 1859, was an English mechanical and civil engineer who is considered "one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history", "one of the 19th-century engineering giants", and "one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution, [who] changed the face of the English landscape with his groundbreaking designs and ingenious constructions". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isambard_Kingdom_Brunel

What is less well known is that his hat (and that of other engineers), actually was a chimney for a steam-operated mechanism. This started a fashion for 'stove-pipe' hats but for most people these were just hats and did not have any dangerous steam-powered mechanism.

Photo 1

This is a redacted photograph to hide the smoke and steam from Brunel's hat.

enter image description here

Photo 2

This is the original uncensored photograph.

enter image description here


Why would the government of the day want to suppress knowledge of these 'engineers hats' from the general populace?

Remember that using the technology of the day, most of the public would only have seen pictures in still photographs.

Note for those who are voting to close on the basis this is not world-building

Yes it is. Although I use Brunel as an exemplar, in the world I propose almost all engineers wear these steam hats. Their existence is essential to the development of technology in this world.


closed as off-topic by Renan, Elmy, user535733, Measure of despare., Alex2006 Mar 20 at 13:17

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Amusing. Of course, my eyes are drawn immediately to the (flawed) details in the "uncensored" photo- the scale, lighting, pixelation, evenness of coloration. I wonder how many people of the era would have been fooled. These thoughts, however, are the total reverse of your question. $\endgroup$ – cobaltduck Mar 20 at 11:40
  • $\begingroup$ @cobaltduck - Well I have to admit it took me 5 mins to do on Microsoft Paint (the old version). If I have time (and the question doesn't get closed down) I'll maybe do a more convincing photo. Note - People of the era were fooled by magic lanterns! $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Mar 20 at 12:02

Because the government made a deal with some crashed extraterrestrials. These aliens need another athmosphere to breathe, namely one filled with CO, CO2, smoke partikles and the like.

The deal said that the aliens helped the United Kingdoms scientific progress with the development of steam engines they also needed to survive. To cover up the existence of these aliens (who are really small), a British gentleman and inventor conceived these hats to house the alien and an apparatus to generate the athmosphere it needs within the hats. At the same time, the alien can talk to the engineer wearing the hat and tell him how to improve a design.


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