21 JULY 1957

Majestic Vic­to­rian ar­chi­tec­ture con­trasts with 1930s to 1950s Bri­tish cars in the West Coun­try

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - The Way We Were -

Take a ca­sual glance at this photo and you’d be for­given for not re­al­is­ing it was snapped just a few short years be­fore the 1960s ex­ploded all over Bri­tain. The 1950s may be draw­ing to a close, but pre-World War II up­right styling, with sep­a­rate head­lamps and run­ning boards, still abounds in this view of Bris­tol Tem­ple Meads rail­way sta­tion be­fore mod­ern street clut­ter dis­fig­ured its ap­proaches. In fact, if you were a pas­sen­ger turn­ing up to catch The Bris­to­lian ex­press to Lon­don Padding­ton be­hind a Cas­tle class steam lo­co­mo­tive, you might won­der why the good burghers of Bris­tol had de­cided to put on an im­promptu his­toric ve­hi­cle show in the sta­tion car park.

Partly-named af­ter the nearby Tem­ple church, the west­ern ter­mi­nus of Isam­bard King­dom Brunel’s Great West­ern Rail­way opened in 1840. How­ever, this mag­nif­i­cent castel­lated façade wasn’t con­structed un­til al­most 20 years af­ter Brunel’s death, when the sta­tion was ex­tended by Fran­cis Fox be­tween 1871 and 1878. Fox would go on to be re­spon­si­ble for the Syd­ney Har­bour Bridge and large sec­tions of the Lon­don Un­der­ground, but this was an early project while he was still in his thir­ties. It all looks amaz­ingly clean, con­sid­er­ing most rail­way sta­tionss of this era were caked with decades of soot (see The Way We Were of 14 Oc­to­ber 2015 to see how grimy Stoke-on-Trent was in 1960) and still show­ing the scars of wartime dam­age.

Tem­ple Meads didn’t es­cape un­scathed; a wooden spire orig­i­nally stood above the clock tower but was top­pled by a bomb in Jan­uary 1941. Since then, con­sid­er­able ef­fort had ob­vi­ously been put into mak­ing the sta­tion like the cathe­dral to the railways it was in­tended to be. Some of the cars out­side on this rather dis­ap­point­ing high sum­mer day would have been around

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