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Page last updated at 08:47 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 09:47 UK
Brunel's hidden Gloucestershire

Isambard Kingdom Brunel
What is your favourite piece of Brunel engineering in Gloucestershire?

Almost everywhere you go in the west of England, you can find evidence of the work of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

There are huge iconic structures like the Clifton Suspension Bridge, revolutionary designs such as the magnificent ss Great Britain, and then there are the railway lines that he considered to be his finest achievements.

But if you look a little harder, there are all sorts of 'hidden' Brunel relics to be found.

The great engineer died exactly 150 years ago - on 15 September 1859.

Almost a century and a half later, BBC Points West's Tamsin Treverton-Jones went on a whistle-stop tour of the region to find some of the great man's lesser known creations.

Here are details of the places she found in Gloucestershire - and of some of your favourite hidden Brunel sites.

See how many you can spot while you're out and about… and if you know of any other places that should be on the list then get in touch!

Cirencester Station

Most people know Brunel built Paddington and Temple Meads stations, but Cirencester is one of his too.

Peter Grace told us "The original building had a glass roof above the tracks which was removed in 1874".

Today the Grade II Listed building stands isolated in the car park at Cirencester. The station closed in 1964

Mickleton Tunnel

This single line railway tunnel is still in use today and was the site of the last ever pitched battle between two private armies on UK soil.

Just outside the village of Mickleton, you can see the tunnel from a public footpath. Brunel had contracted a builder named Marchant to construct the tunnel, but failed to pay him. When the debt hit £34,000 Marchant's men downed tools and refused to work.

Brunel gathered a private army of supporters to try and oust Marchant and take control of the tunnel. It took three days, but eventually General Brunel got his tunnel back and the matter of the unpaid bills went to arbitration.

Chepstow Rail Bridge

"Most photogenic" says Ian Johnson of Brunel's railway bridge that used to take trains over the River Wye on the Gloucestershire border - another example of Brunel's elegant mixture of design and engineering.

Liz McBride adds: "The bridge was built in 1852 but was dismantled and replaced in 1962 as it was becoming unsafe. The Fairfield Mabey site in Chepstow has a section of the original tubes at their entrance gate."

Haie Hill Tunnel

"Another bit of 'Hidden Brunel' in Gloucestershire is Haie Hill Tunnel on the old GWR branch to Cinderford", says John Phillips, Ablington, Bibury. "It was not actually built by Brunel; it was originally built in 1809 on the old tramway, which served some of the Forest coalfields.

"The GWR converted the tramway to a railway in, I believe, the 1830s and the work of widening Haie Hill Tunnel fell to Brunel. He described it as "The most difficult task I have yet undertaken". The tunnel was finally closed in 1967."

What have we missed?

Which other pieces of Hidden Brunel in Gloucestershire do you know of? Send an e-mail to

and we'll add your suggestion to the list.




SEE ALSO
Brunel Museum
12 Jun 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
Brunel's achievements revisited
29 Nov 08 |  Today

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