A statue of famous Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel has been unveiled outside the Passenger Shed at Bristol Temple Meads station, one of the buildings he designed.
The statue is not a new one, however. Created by John Doubleday, it was first unveiled at a site on Broad Quay on 26 May 1982, when it was presented to the city by Bristol and West Building Society.
In 2006, on the bicentenary of Brunel’s birth, it was moved to a new site outside the offices of Osborne Clarke in Temple Quay.
Now it has been moved again, to a fitting location outside the engineer’s iconic station. Brunel is now honoured at both ends of his Great Western Railway – a second statue by the same sculptor stands in Paddington station in London.
One of the most versatile and audacious engineers of the 19th century, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s legacy is synonymous with the city of Bristol. His winning designs include the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the SS Great Britain, the world’s first iron-hulled, screw propeller-driven steamship now docked in Bristol.
In 1833, Brunel was appointed GWR’s chief engineer and began work on the line that would link Bristol with London. In addition to viaducts at Hanwell and Chippenham, the Maidenhead Bridge and the Box Tunnel, Bristol Temple Meads station was among his most impressive achievements.
When it opened in 1841, it transformed the city of Bristol, making business and leisure travel easier and cheaper via the railway and creating jobs for thousands of people.
Andy Phillips, station manager at Temple Meads, said: “We are delighted to have rehomed the statue of Mr Brunel to the location of one his finest accomplishments, Bristol Temple Meads station.
“The statue is spectacular and is accompanied by a wall plaque which tells the story of Brunel and his original station.
“It is fitting that passengers entering and leaving the station via station approach road will be able to enjoy the statue and understand the history of Bristol Temple Meads and the role Isambard Kingdom Brunel played in shaping the railway we know today.”
Chris Curling, Deputy Lieutenant for Bristol, who unveiled the statue, said: “There can be no more appropriate a location for this magnificent statue of Brunel than immediately outside the very building which he designed and built as the first full-scale railway terminus, and which became the template for railway stations across the world.”
Brunel’s station is currently receiving a makeover. Work to the roof, along with a new track layout, will make catch8ing a train a brighter and more convenient experience for thousands of passengers.