Dearieme Doesn\’t Understand the West Country: Or Civilisation

From the comments about great engineers:

Brunel was voted something-or-other by the great unwashed, when James Watt or Geordie Stephenson were available. Those two changed human history: Brunel changed the means of getting to Bristol.

Sigh.

Brunel made it easier to get out of Bristol. A greater contribution to human happiness than no man has produced.

11 comments on “Dearieme Doesn\’t Understand the West Country: Or Civilisation

  1. Brunel was also the superior engineer too, in the sense that he thought things through.

    Stephenson averaged out the track width of the local carts, and decided that 4′ 8 1/2″ was the ideal width for a railway track.

    Brunel started with the assumption that he wanted fast, stable, trains with decent carrying capacity, and plumped for 7′.
    The fact that Stevenson got there first is really very unfortunate – 7′ was a much better system (just imagine the size shipping containers could be for instance).

    The same is true of a lot of Brunel’s other “unsuccessful” projects – his ideas were better thought through than his competitors, but they tended to be strangled by the incumbency advantage of the existing systems.

    Not that this is a problem unique to Brunel – see also Betamax…

  2. Those of us who have lived in Bath, but gone to school in Bristol, understand perfectly the desire to leave Bristol. The great man did a good job on the Box Tunnel too.

  3. IKB was indeed fortunate that he never had to contend with the current incumbents on Bristol City Council & their attitude toward all issues around transport.

    Kind regards

  4. Exactly. IKB made it possible to get to & from London with having to actually step foot Bath. Can’t thank the man enough.

  5. But Brunel also gave rise to Swindon…

    I like to think that he looked at it, when it was still Pig Hill, and said “here is a place that won’t be ruined by dumping a huge great filthy railway engine factory on it.”

    It’s hardly his fault what it has been used for since …

  6. I like to think that he looked at it, when it was still Pig Hill, and said “here is a place that won’t be ruined by dumping a huge great filthy railway engine factory on it.”

    He originally wanted to build it near Marlborough, and have the railway split to Cheltenham from there, but the owner of Savernake objected. As he couldn’t build in Marlborough or north of it because of the Ridgeway, the next sensible place was the other side of Swindon. He didn’t build on the old Swindon town, as it’s up on a hill. The railway works are about a mile away from there.

  7. TheProle

    You are confusing track gauge and loading gauge, it’s the latter that counts as far as width and height of rolling stock are concerned, the Great Western loading gauge wasn’t a great deal more than that of the standard gauge lines. You don’t need a broad track to run larger rolling stock as the US railroads prove.

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