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Isambard Kingdom Brunel's
Broad Gauge Railway

Rail Album for railway and other photographs



Brunel was the engineer in charge of designing the Great Western Railway, which ran from London to Bristol.  With future high speed running in mind he opted for the stability offered by a rail gauge of seven feet and a quarter inch (2140 mm).  The first stretch from London to Maidenhead opened for public use on 4th June 1838.

 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
In many places the broad gauge and standard gauge trains operated over the same stretch of line, which was laid with three rails.  On the right in this view is a standard gauge line, and on the left the track is mixed gauge. The location is the Great Western Society's preservation site at Didcot.  3rd June 2001.
 
  
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
The rails that Brunel used for his broad gauge railway were of a type known as bridge rail.  These sections of bridge rail were put to further use as fence posts when the broad gauge was abandoned.  The location is Chivenham near Basingstoke.  Photograph taken 19th October 1988.

 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
A different view of the layout at Didcot.  The wooden block over one of the rails is a wheel stop.  It is a safety measure to prevent a runaway vehicle from the siding from crashing into a train on the other line.  3rd June 2001.
 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
The preservation site at Didcot includes this transfer shed.  Broad gauge vehicles used the line on the left and standard gauge ones used the line on the right.  The arches at the far end of the shed are of slightly different sizes, the one on the left being the larger of the two as it needed to accommodate broad gauge trains.  3rd June 2001.
 
 
         
  You may be interested in these railway books: On Track Railway DVD and Book Catalogue    
Farewell to Steam
Holborn Viaduct to Lewisham
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Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Another view of the mixed standard gauge and broad gauge tracks.  3rd June 2001.

 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
The view from the transfer shed at Didcot.  The signal on the left has a slotted post that the signal arm can swing down into.  This type was gradually phased out following a crash at Abbots Ripton on the Great Northern Railway in 21st January 1876, which was caused by a signal being frozen in the "clear" position by snow and ice. 

 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
The far track is standard gauge and the near track is mixed standard gauge and broad gauge. Didcot 3rd June 2001.
 
 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
The slotted post signal seen from the rear.  The adjacent wooden post supports the signal operating wires.
   
 
         
  You may be interested in these railway DVDs: On Track Railway DVD and Book Catalogue    
Great Western Railway Locomotives
HST West & HST Far West (cab ride)
The Barry Scrapyard Story
         
 
 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Another surviving piece of broad gauge bridge rail in use as a fence post.  Shottesbrooke 26th October 2007.
 
 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
The mixed standard gauge and broad gauge point at Didcot 3rd June 2001. 
 
 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Broad gauge disc & bar signal along with posts supporting the signal operating wire. Didcot 3rd June 2001. 
 
The last GWR broad gauge train ran in May 1892 and the rails were removed. But fortunately enough material remained for the Great Western Society to reconstruct the broad gauge track at their Didcot centre.
  
 
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