Brunel’s vision was of a seamless journey from London into New York Harbour via Bristol on one single ticket. It was an extraordinary concept and like all great pioneering ideas, was way of ahead of its time. From east to west by land and sea – Fantastic!
But somebody wanted to prevent this vision and the question is why?
In the late 1840s, Brunel devised a brilliant and innovative plan which would have arrested Bristol’s decline from maritime and commercial supremacy for at least a generation. He was very aware of the topographical restrictions of the River Avon in Bristol; which appeared on the face of it, to be unsolvable. But Isambard Kingdom Brunel had the solution.
Why not construct a massive deep water harbour and pier at Portbury? A railway spur from Temple Meads Station would link the two together for a continuous journey. And so a plan was in place. It was secured not only by an Act of Parliament, but also by a very substantial financial investment and share capital amounting to £200,000 from the Bristol Merchants – a fortune in those days.
Why then was the project abandoned inexplicably in 1852? Who and what force was behind a project that would have brought so much additional prosperity to this city? It made no sense.
Many of the real answers lay concealed in the mists of time, but 18 months of extensive research have revealed some of the secrets and mysteries of this compelling piece of Bristol history. And they form the perfect ingredients for Brunel’s Vision: One Single Ticket, a Victorian drama set in and around the city and Clifton would inevitably play a central role in the telling of this story.
Brunel’s Vision: One Single Ticket is now available as a downloadable audio drama.