Brunel's Broad Gauge Railway
Condemned to death, 1846: executed 1892! Forty-six years in the death-cell is a long time. Why? And why did Brunel suggest seven feet as the gauge of the Great Western Railway? These are just two questions this book sets out to answer, exactly a century after the final conversion from 'broad' to 'standard' gauge took place.
Brunel's Broad Gauge Railway traces the history of the broad gauge from its inception, through the engineer's problems with discomfited shareholders, and into the reasons for the appointment of a Parliamentary Commission to discuss the whole question of railway gauges. The repercussions are discussed, with the later decision in Parliament which allowed the broad gauge to continue expansion - the last line was opened no less than 31 years later, in 1877! A chapter about the stock which was operated on the system comes next, followed by the 'how' and 'when' of the gradual dismemberment, an operation which took a good deal longer than most people realise. Would we, the author asks, still have a railway today, had the broad gauge not been abolished when it was? Who can say, but he.has a theory which may come as a surprise.
The author, whose great-grandfather, as Vice-Chairman of the Wiltshire, Somerset & Weymouth Railway, must have worked with Brunel, has found this book fascinating to compile. He has worked in the railway history field for many years, including compiling the Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies but wearing his other 'uniform' as it were, also attempts to keep Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends firmly on the rails...
Hardback with dust jacket, 144 pages, black & white photographs
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Updated: 1 April 2020