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Bristol Temple Meads Station

Archive/Image Reference


Title of Original Drawing



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Description of Drawing


Date of Creation


Scale of Original Drawing


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    Façade of Bristol Temple Meads Joint Station
    Bristol Temple Meads...
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    Bristol Temple Meads Joint Station Booking Hall
    Bristol Temple Meads...
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    Bristol Station Elevation Number 6 1840
    Bristol Temple Meads...
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    Sections of Roof Purlins and Ribs (Wax linen)
    Bristol Temple Meads...
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    Main Shed Roof Details Skylights / Vents / Balcony etc
    Bristol Temple Meads...
Façade of Bristol Temple Meads Joint Station
Façade of Bristol Temple Meads Joint Station

Did you know?

Bristol Temple Meads takes its name from the land upon which it was built. In the 12th and 13th centuries this was owned by the Knights Templar. 

Built as the western terminus of the Great Western Railway’s main line from London to Bristol, Bristol Temple Meads station has undergone many changes as it outgrew Brunel’s original building and became the railway gateway to the West Country. 

The original Bristol Station, designed by I K Brunel in a ‘mock Tudor’ style was, like the original Paddington Station, a terminus which consisted of simply an arrival and a departure platform. It opened on 31 August 1840 with trains running from Bristol as far as Bath, nearly a year before the start of through traffic to London. The station buildings had a boardroom and offices for the ‘Bristol Committee’ of the Great Western Railway.

In 1841, the broad gauge Bristol & Exeter Railway also began to run its services into Bristol Temple Meads, a curved line enabling their trains to run into the station. However, the limitations of sharing the station with the Great Western Railway meant that the B&ER opened its own temporary station in 1845 at right angles to the GWR building. A permanent structure, built in a Jacobean style was opened by the B&ER in 1854. In 1844 the Midland Railway also began to run into Bristol, having taken over the Bristol & Gloucester Railway.


A new joint station

Traffic and the demands of the three railway companies began to outgrow Brunel’s original 1840’s structure, but it was not until 1865 that an Act was secured to rebuild Temple Meads to serve the needs of all three companies adequately. The design, in the Gothic style, was undertaken by Matthew Digby Wyatt, who had in the 1850s assisted Brunel with the ‘new’ Paddington Station.

Construction of the new Bristol Temple Meads began in 1871. Separate entrances and corresponding booking offices, with the names of the railway companies engraved in stone above them, were provided for each of the three companies. However, before the station fully opened the GWR and B&ER had amalgamated. The first section of the station opened on 6 July 1874 and the full station, with a total of seven platforms, on 1 January 1878. An additional platform was added in 1898.


Speed to the West

As a major gateway to the West Country, Bristol Temple Meads became increasingly congested with holiday traffic, particularly in the years immediately after World War 1. In 1929 the GWR took advantage of interest free government loans to double Temple Meads in size, increasing the number of platforms from nine to fifteen. Work on this extension, designed by P G Culverhouse, began in November 1930 and was completed in December 1935.

The original Brunel train shed functioned for 125 years until its closure on 12 September 1965. His mock hammer beam roof, built of wood to emulate Westminster Hall in London, can still be seen as part of the car park at today’s station. 

Page first created: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Page last updated: Friday, April 20, 2012


31 August: The Great Western Railway was authorised by an Act of Parliament to build the railway line between the cities of London and Bristol.



31 August: Brunel’s Tudor style Bristol Temple Meads Station is opened as the western terminus of the Great Western Railway.



30 June: the Great Western Railway London to Bristol main line is opened throughout. The Bristol and Exeter Railway begins to use Bristol Temple Meads for its services.



The Bristol and Gloucester Railway (part of the Midland Railway from 1845) begins to use Bristol Temple Meads for its services.



The Bristol & Exeter Railway opens its own temporary station and platforms at right angles to the GWR station.



The Bristol and Exeter Railway opens its permanent station office on the same site. This is designed in the Jacobean style by S C Fripp.



The main GWR station becomes jointly run by the Great Western and Midland railway companies.



- 1876. Bristol Temple Meads Station expanded as through Station.



1 January: Matthew Digby Wyatt’s Bristol Joint Station is opened, designed in the gothic style.



20 May: the last of the GWR broad gauge tracks are lifted.



- 1935. Bristol Temple Meads Station is enlarged.



12 September: the original Brunel terminus at Temple Meads is closed.



The electrification of London (Paddington) – Bristol - South Wales is announced.

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Comments & Suggestions (12)

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 this website is amazing really well done. ive learned a lot about the railway

Posted by carla galea, Tuesday, August 7, 2012.

 hi, do you have any info on Leonard Saunders who was the station master after the war. He is my grandpa and I would like to find out more.

Posted by Martyn Chambers, Sunday, May 25, 2014.

 I,ve been given to understand that there is a network of passages under the station,they were used during the war. Also you can have a look around them at certain times, is this true.

Posted by bernard martin, Sunday, May 12, 2013.

 It is Bristol to London. Not London to Bristol. Was began by Bristol Mercants B to L.

Posted by D Hammond, Thursday, November 28, 2013.

 Having carried out work at BTM and having gone into the tunnels under the station, its a great idea to have this part of the NR website, the subway tunnels are great, showing how in WW2 the rail workers would practice changing tracks, an old signal box is down there as well as an air raid shelter. i believe that an annual 'ghost walk' is carried out and would recommend it to anyone if they would like to see what the tunnels are like....bring a head torch.

Posted by Stuart Shortland, Thursday, August 21, 2014.

 A great web site. Congratulations. You should give it more publicity.

Posted by Ian Craig, Friday, April 20, 2012.

 This is a fabulous site, and I look forward to many happy hours investigating the history of railway stations up and down the land.

Posted by Sasha Lubetkin, Friday, March 2, 2012.

 Excellent - think I will be visiting this site often

Posted by Anfy Miles, Saturday, March 3, 2012.

 Brilliant! What else is there to say?

Posted by Edwin Jones, Tuesday, February 28, 2012.

 This site is a great idea, and is very well-presented. I look forward to more content over time, as this site clearly has massive potential!

Posted by Mike Jones, Monday, March 5, 2012.

You don't have to be a railway geek to appreciate how brilliant this site is and to start to look at the railway engineering and architecture with fresh eyes.

Posted by John Waldron, Monday, March 5, 2012.

I think you've done a really good job with the presentation of this site - be great to see more content added over time.  

Posted by Jim, Friday, March 2, 2012.

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See also

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Paddington Station, London

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