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Brunel’s bricks breathe again

By Nick Mann

Brunel’s bricks breathe again

Costain and Crossrail have donated a large number of Brunel-era bricks to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR). 

The bricks will help reconstructthe charity railway’s Broadway station in Worcestershire. They come from Costain’s Crossrail Paddington New Yard site in West London where Crossrail archaeologists uncovered the foundations to Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s 1852 Great Western Railway Locomotive Depot.

There is a great deal of interest in archaeology on the Crossrail project and to celebrate the finds the project opened its doors to the public. This publicity prompted the GWSR to make contact with Crossrail to secure 20 tonnes of bricks.

The GWSR is a volunteer-run heritage railway which runs along the border of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire in the West Midlands, England.  The GWSR has restored and reopened 12 miles of line, operating between Cheltenham Racecourse and the site of Laverton Halt. The company is currently raising £1.5 million to extend 3 miles (4.8 km) northwards to Broadway, and will eventually begin working on plans to extend a further 6 miles (9.7 km) to Honeybourne, (where an island platform has since been rebuilt).

Crossrail Lead Archaeologist, Jay Carver, said "It is an appropriate legacy to be able to reuse some of the original bricks from the Great Western Railway for this purpose. We are helping to recreate the past while building a railway of the future.”

Costain Environmental Manager for the project, Matt Brinklow said “We are always looking for ways to reuse materials and the bricks which once formed the floor of an old turntable structure can now live on in another rail related project.”