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Happy Birthday Bristol Temple Meads railway station  

Bristol Temple Meads

Bristol Temple Meads railway station turns 183 years old today. It’s a station absolutely teeming with history and we are adding more pages to the history books.

We have been upgrading Bristol Temple Meads over the past few years with more improvements to come. Let’s take a look at the station’s past and what’s in store for the future.  

From humble beginnings:

The original Bristol Station was designed by the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It was stylised as a ‘mock Tudor’ structure in tandem with the original Paddington Station. It consisted of a terminus with simply an arrival and a departure platform.

It opened on 31 August 1840 with trains running from Bristol as far as Bath. Traffic then began to run to London nearly a year later. It was operated by Great Western Railway with a boardroom present at the station.

To the gateway to the South West:  

The Bristol & Exeter Railway began to run services into Bristol Temple Meads in 1841 as well as the Midland Railway.  

Traffic and the demands of the three railway companies began to outgrow Brunel’s original 1840’s structure. An Act was secured to rebuild Temple Meads to serve the needs of all three companies in 1865.  

Construction of the new Bristol Temple Meads began in 1871. The first section of the station opened on 6 July 1874 followed by seven platforms on 1 January 1878. An additional platform was added in 1898.  

The station became increasingly congested with holiday traffic, despite the added platform. GWR planned to double Temple Meads in size by increasing the number of platforms from nine to fifteen in 1929.

Work on this extension began in November 1930 and was completed in December 1935.  

The future of Bristol Temple Meads – Bristol Rail Regeneration:  

Our variety of improvements to Bristol Temple Meads are well underway. We have been working and continue to work on a scope of projects through the Bristol Rail Regeneration programme.

Our aim is to bring a brighter welcome to the city and a better experience for our passengers.  

We officially opened a new station reception, near the entrance in April this year. It has lots of accessible features. Here, you can find:

  • seating that’s higher than standard, giving better support to anyone with reduced mobility
  • sunflower lanyards for anyone with a hidden disability
  • an audio guide to the station specially developed for blind and partially-sighted passengers – the first of its kind
  • phone charging points that also support wireless charging
  • colourful wall art and leaflets detailing local walks and areas of interest in collaboration with Severnside Community Rail Partnership.

Meanwhile, the new station signage has high contrast so you can more easily read it. We’ve also installed tactile paving on the platforms to improve safety.

East Junction:  

We completed an upgrade to Bristol East Junction in September 2021. It involved a clever new track layout and state-of-the-art signalling to give you a better travelling experience. 

Our teams removed a bottleneck into Bristol Temple Meads and replaced 1960s track and components to allow more trains to travel in and out of the station.

Roof refurbishment:  

Our refurbishment of the historic roof at Bristol Temple Meads is in progress. We’ve repainted and restored platform canopies and canopies on the station’s forecourt. 

The train shed roof is the biggest job. We’ve completed the first phase of grit-blasting, with metalwork stripped and primed. We’ll now move onto the repairing, repainting and re-glazing.

Bristol Temple Meads station roof and tracks inside the station

Complete electrical overhaul:  

We are planning to completely overhaul the electrics at the station. This will bring the overall power supply and lighting up to modern day standards.

It will enable upgrades to passenger information, CCTV and increase the station’s retail offerings in the future.


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