A boost for Brunel’s Great Western Railway

Bellott’s Road Bridge, part of Brunel’s Great Western Railway, is in line for £400,000 from the government for a full structural inspection and subsequent works. The money is being matched by £2.2 million for the cost of repairs.

This should be great news for Brunel enthusiasts such as the Bath Heritage Watchdog especially after their recent disappointment in getting the Great Western Railway listed as a World Heritage Site. The Bath Heritage Society claim that the electrification of the line between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads planned by 2016 is the reason that the GWR was not given its due.

The Grade II listed Bellot’s Road Bridge was built in 1839 and its Tudor-Gothic design is characteristic of work on the Bristol-Bath division of the GWR. It survives intact and was constructed to a design by the engineer and architect Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Bellotts Road Bridge
Photo from Bath Heritage Watchdog site

“It would be impossible to describe in detail all the engineering works which are to be found on Mr. Brunel’s railways, the aggregate length of which is upwards of 1,200 miles”. However with one step at a time and the help of local watchdogs, we may benefit and retain some valuable history.

The watchdog also raise an interesting point about the electrification of the line between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads. Their claim that the reason the GWR was not given world heritage status was because of the multi-billion dollar project is an interesting one. It may be worth checking how much Brunel’s work will be affected by the plans. For now it is a blessing that some structures are being taken care of.

This money is part of the £62 million worth of funding for cycling infrastructure which parliamentary under secretary of state Norman Baker announced on January 30. £42 million of that goes to an urban fund to which cities, including Bristol, may apply for matched funding and £15 million will be used to boost the community linking places fund to support schemes that improve cycle-rail integration and enhance community cycling. Five million pounds will be added to the fund already earmarked to tackle dangerous junctions.

A full list of schemes can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ linking-places-fund-tranche-2.

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