Bristol Temple Meads

Architecture & Buildings

Europe, United Kingdom, City of Bristol

Bristol Temple Meads railway station is the oldest and largest railway station in Bristol, England. It is an important interchange hub for public transport in Bristol, with bus services to various parts of the city and surrounding districts, and a ferry service to the city centre in addition to the train services. Bristol's other main-line station, Bristol Parkway, is on the northern outskirts of the Bristol conurbation. It opened on 31 August 1840 as the western terminus of the Great Western Railway from London Paddington station. The whole railway including Temple Meads was the first one designed by the prolific British engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Soon the station was also used by the Bristol and Exeter Railway, the Bristol and Gloucester Railway, the Bristol Harbour Railway and the Bristol and South Wales Union Railway. To accommodate the increasing number of trains the station was expanded in the 1870s by Francis Fox; and again in the 1930s by P E Culverhouse. Brunel's terminus is no longer part of the operational station and housed the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, which closed in 2008. The historical significance of the station has been noted, and the majority of the site is Grade 1 listed. Temple Meads is now owned by Network Rail and is operated under a franchise by First Great Western who provide the majority of trains to London, along with local services and inter-urban routes to destinations such as Cardiff, Southampton, Portsmouth and Weymouth. Long-distance services are provided by CrossCountry to destinations as diverse as Plymouth and Penzance in the South-West of England, Manchester Piccadilly and York in the North, and Edinburgh and Aberdeen in Scotland. A few trains to London Waterloo station are provided by South West Trains. More than 7 million people entered and left the station in the twelve months to March 2007, an increase of nearly 2 million in six years. This makes it the 38th most-used Network Rail station and the 16th-busiest outside the London area. In addition, it was estimated that more than 845,000 people used the station to change trains. The platforms are numbered from 1 to 15, but passenger trains are confined to just eight tracks. The numbering system means that most are numbered separately at each end with odd numbers at the east end, and even numbers at the west end. To further complicate matters, platform 2 is not signalled for passenger trains, and platform 14 does not exist.