Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Who was he?
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS (9 April 1806 – 15 September 1859), was a
leading British civil engineer, famed for his bridges and dockyards,
and especially for the construction of the first major British railway,
the Great Western Railway; a series of famous steamships, including the
first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship; and numerous important
bridges and tunnels. His designs revolutionised public transport and
Why was he in Bath?
In 1833 Isambard Kingdom Brunel conducted a survey for the proposed
railway from Bristol to London. After the completion of the survey he
was appointed Engineer to the Great Western Railway at a salary of
£2000 per annum. Brunel was involved in every level of design and
detail of the GWR including the railway landscape at Sydney Gardens.
In c.1839 work began on the section of the Great Western Railway that
runs through Sydney Gardens and effectively cuts the Gardens in half.
Various garden features and buildings were destroyed including a tea
house, part of the Labyrinth, the Castle, and the C18 perimeter walk.
The cutting through Sydney Gardens resulted in an exceptional
architecture treatment to the associated structures which were designed
to blend in with the picturesque designs of the Garden. The railway
added a new feature within the landscape of Sydney Gardens which
included the construction of two retaining walls, a footbridge to
connect the footpath from The Holburne Museum to Sydney House, a cast
iron footbridge and two road bridges which form part of the boundary to
Sydney Gardens. The railway and its associated structures soon became a
picturesque attraction in the pleasure ground and groups of spectators
gathered to watch the passing trains. The first train ran through
Sydney Gardens on the 30th June 1841. In 1881, owing to the poor state
of Bath Spa Railway Station, the Sydney Gardens section of the railway
was chosen as the alighting point for a visit by the Duke and Duchess
Source: British Listed Buildings
Location of plaque in Sydney Gardens:
The text reads
"Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Brunel Society 1977"
Location map of Sydney Gardens:
See also Minerva's
Temple in Sydney Gardens.
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