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Remains of structures built by celebrated engineer,

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, for his Great Western

Railway have been unearthed near Paddington in

west London.

Newly excavated by Crossrail as part of the UK’s

largest archaeological programme, findings include

foundations of a 200 metre long engine shed, a

workshop and turntables. The structures were used

for Brunel’s famous broad-gauge railway, which first

ran steam trains through the area in 1838.

The Crossrail archaeology team is documenting

the remains using laser scans, creating 3D models

of the buildings which date from the 1850s and

were levelled in 1906 to make way for a goods stor-

age yard.

These records will help historians understand

the early development of railways in the UK and the

methods of Brunel, widely regarded as one of Brit-

ain’s greatest engineers.

Jay Carver, Crossrail’s Lead Archaeologist said:

“Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Western

Railway is the most complete early mainline

railway in the world. Whenever

we expose parts of the original

infrastructure it is vital to record

these for posterity and the history

of rail in this country. Using the latest 3D

scan technology provides a permanent

and accurate model Brunel’s distinctive

architectural legacy.”

The remains were found at Paddington New

Yard, to the east of Westbourne Park Tube station.

From 2018 the area will accommodate Crossrail

tracks, turn-back sidings, an elevated bus deck and

cement factory.

The works at Paddington New Yard are being un-

dertaken by Costain.

The engine shed shows evidence of the change

from 7 foot wide broad-gauge train tracks used by

Brunel’s Great Western Railway, to the standard

gauge tracks prescribed in an Act of Parliament in

1846. Brunel initially resisted this change in the so-

called ‘Gauge Wars’.

To date, Crossrail’s archeology programme has

discovered over 10,000

items spanning 55 million

years of London’s histo-

ry across 40 construction


Notable finds include

Roman remains, plague

pits, the Bedlam hospital

burial grounds and a Tudor

manor house.


Page 19

Contractors World UK & Ireland Vol 4 No 4

The remains of the original

turntable, details of which

are being fully recorded for

historical reasons.