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The Great Railway Heritage Of Paddington

Author: aregan  |  Category: History
Published: February 8, 2009

Paddington station is at the very eastern end of what used to be the Great Western Railway (GWR) line, providing the gateway to London from the South West of England and Wales. Conversely, it is also the primary rail route to Somerset, Devon and Cornwall for Londoners seeking a holiday or to perform business matters in those southwest counties.

But it was the 19th century merchants of Bristol anxious to make their city second in prominence only to London that ensured the GWR railway line was commissioned and built. Following a meeting of the city’s great and good in 1833 the Great Western Railway Company was founded, to be ratified by an act of Parliament two years later. Once completed some 20 years later the railway allowed goods, mostly imported from the Americas, to reach the capital much faster than using canals.

For the last 176 years the GWR acronym has also been interpreted as God’s Wonderful Railway by ardent fans of the railway. Under the guidance of the legendary Isambard Kingdom Brunel – who was appointed chief engineer for the GWR – the route taken overcomes some outstanding physical barriers, and is a monument to the ambition and ability of the Victorians. Engineering marvels such as the Box Tunnel near Bath and the bridges over the Avon and Thames are still spoken about with reverence by today’s civil engineers.

Of course, Brunel is also associated with many other iconic engineering structures, such as the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol and is widely considered to be the foremost engineer of his day.

The first part of the GWR line to be completed ran from Paddington to Maidenhead; it was 22.5 miles in length and opened on 4th June 1838, just five years after the first Bristol meeting which resulted in the formation of the GWR Company. As part of the Paddington station development GWR built an elaborate and ornate hotel at the terminus, but many other independently owned hotels in Paddington were also quickly established; their owners hoping to take advantage of the new incoming railway trade. In fact, in recent times there are many hotels around Paddington that still benefit from their proximity to the station and its direct link to Heathrow airport via the Heathrow Express.

Although, the route now taken by trains is operated by several different franchises, they are primarily using the same route as their illustrious seven foot broad gauge counterparts some 155 years earlier; this includes travelling through the Box Tunnel and over the glorious bridges built by Brunel’s team. And of course, all London bound trains still arrive at the very same terminal at Paddington that was opened in 1854, where a statue of its creator Isambard Kingdom Brunel now sits in the concourse casting an eye over the passengers who now use his railway.

Andrew Regan writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.

Author: aregan

Life has a habit of throwing the unexpected at us, and it can be difficult to cope financially with large one-off expenses that you didn’t see coming. So where can you cut down your cost of living and start saving?

This author has published 31 articles so far.

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