Victorian railway infrastructure discovered by archaeologists near London tube station

By Ben Miller | 22 September 2014

Items from Brunel's 19th century Great Western railway have been excavated by archaeologists at a site in London

A photo of an archaeological dig taking place at an open air industrial railway site
© Crossrail
Artefacts from a Victorian-era transport infrastructure, built by engineering forefather Isambard Kingdom Brunel for his broad-gauge Great Western steam railway nearly 200 years ago, are being laser scanned after archaeologists discovered them near Paddington as part of an extensive search for ancient rail remnants.

A photo of an archaeological dig taking place at an open air industrial railway site
© Crossrail
A 200-metre long engine shed, workshop and train turntables were found on a construction site known as Paddington New Yard, to the east of Westbourne Park Tube Station, in a glimpse of the industrial past and Brunel’s designs for a track first used in 1838.

The shed shows evidence of the switch made from the seven foot-wide broad guage train tracks, used by Great Western, to the standard gauge tracks prescribed in an Act of Parliament and implemented by the 1960s – a ruling Brunel resisted, creating a conflict known as the Gauge Wars.

A series of 3D modles are now being made of the 1850s buildings, which were levelled and replaced by a goods storage yard in 1906.

A photo of an archaeological dig taking place at an open air industrial railway site
© Crossrail
“Whenever we expose parts of the original infrastructure it is vital to record these for posterity and the history of rail in this country,” said Jay Carver, the Lead Archaeologist on the site, who added that the scanning technology would lead to a “permanent and accurate” model of Brunel’s “distinctive architectural legacy.”

“Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Western Railway is the most complete early mainline railway in the world.”

New tracks, turn-back sidings, an elevated bus deck and a cement factory will be accommodated at the site from 2018.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

An light yellow photo of a steam railway during the 19th century
The engine shed as it was once seen at Paddington Yard© Great Western Trust
A black and white photo of a steam railway during the 19th century
© Great Western Trust
A photo of an archaeological dig taking place at an open air industrial railway site
© Crossrail
A photo of an archaeological dig taking place at an open air industrial railway site
© Crossrail
A photo of an archaeological dig taking place at an open air industrial railway site
© Crossrail
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In 1976 we were working on a project at Kings cross to construct concrete loading bays for lorry's and we had to demolish a Victorian station.
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