“Bristol Temple Meads is the oldest and largest railway station in Bristol, England.
Temple Meads was opened on 31 August 1840 as the western terminus of the Great Western Railway from London Paddington, 116 miles 31 chains (187.3 km) from Paddington. The railway (including Temple Meads) was the first to be designed by the 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 between 1930 and 1935 by Percy Emerson Culverhouse. Brunel’s terminus is no longer part of the operational station.
The name Temple Meads derives from the nearby Temple Church, which was gutted by bombing during World War II. The word “meads” is a derivation of “mæd”, an Old English variation of “mædwe”, meadow, referring to the water meadows alongside the River Avon that were part of Temple parish. As late as 1820 the site was undeveloped pasture outside the boundaries of the old city, some distance from the commercial centre. It lay between the Floating Harbour and the city’s cattle market, which was built in 1830.
The original terminus was built in 1839–41 for the Great Western Railway (GWR), the first passenger railway in Bristol, and was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the railway’s engineer. It was built to accommodate Brunel’s 7 ft (2,134 mm) broad gauge. The station was on a viaduct to raise it above the level of the Floating Harbour and River Avon, the latter being crossed via the grade I listed Avon Bridge. The station was covered by a 200-foot (60 m) train shed, extended beyond the platforms by 155 feet (47 m) into a storage area and engine shed, fronted by an office building in the Tudor style. Train services to Bath commenced on 31 August 1840 and were extended to Paddington on 30 June 1841 following the completion of Box Tunnel.
A few weeks before the start of the services to Paddington the Bristol and Exeter Railway (B&ER) had opened, on 14 June 1841, its trains reversing in and out of the GWR station.”