Brunel's bridge unearthed in chance discovery
Press release issued: 7 February 2005
The story of how a chance discovery led to part of the country's national industrial heritage being saved in the nick of time will be the subject of a lecture at Bristol University next week.
The story of how a chance discovery led to part of the country’s national industrial heritage being saved in the nick of time will be the subject of a lecture at Bristol University next week.
The lecture on Friday, February 11 by Dr Steven Brindle, architectural historian and Inspector of Ancient Monuments at English Heritage, will reveal how he found the earliest of only eight surviving iron bridges designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and saved it from destruction.
The bridge, described in one of Brunel’s surviving notebooks, had been lying hidden for years underneath a modern brick bridge built across the Grand Union Canal near Paddington Station, London. The City Council had granted permission for the modern bridge to be demolished and a new five-lane version built in its place. Brunel’s bridge was initially unrecognisable but on closer examination the construction exactly matched the sketches and notes in Brunel’s notebooks.
The bridge is currently being dismantled and moved to a safer home. English Heritage and Westminster City Council are hoping that the time-consuming and delicate work of moving and restoring the bridge can be completed in time for the 200th anniversary of Brunel’s birth in 2006.
Brunel’s first notable achievement was the part he played with his father in planning the Thames Tunnel. After this he planned the Clifton Suspension Bridge and was also responsible for the design of several famous ships: the Great Western, the Great Britain, and the Great Eastern. He is probably best remembered for his construction of a network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts for the Great Western Railway.
Brunel was also responsible for the redesign and construction of many of Britain's major docks, including Bristol, Monkwearmouth, Cardiff and Milford Haven. His other impressive achievements included the viaducts at Hanwell and Chippenham, the Maidenhead Bridge, the Box Tunnel and Bristol Temple Meads Station.
The lecture, organised by the University’s Public Programmes Office, takes place in Lecture Theatre 4, Chemistry Building, Cantocks Close, Bristol, from 7.30 to 9 pm.Tickets are priced at £5.00. Prior enrolment is required for this lecture; please contact Jo Emslie, tel 0117 928 7165 to enrol.