Few people have had as great an impact on Bath as Brunel. He changed the face of the city and brought the coaching trade — the bedrock of its prosperity for almost two centuries — to an abrupt end. Far from opening up the city to mass tourism, the arrival of the railway accelerated Bath’s decline as a fashionable resort. West of the city, at Twerton, the effects were even more devastating: the village was cut in two by a high viaduct, and its weaving industry was decimated by an influx of cheap material from the North of England. In the east of the city, Brunel drove his line through Sydney Gardens, transforming a refined retreat for the upper classes into the most scenic railway cutting in the country.
The Ringing Grooves of Change tells the story of Bath’s invasion by an army of navvies, drinking, whoring and fighting in shanty towns on the edge of the city, while armed Chartists massed in the streets and local elections descended into drunkenness and anarchy. It was against this turbulent background that Brunel brought the railway to Bath.
With a section devoted to the building of Box Tunnel and a new Brunel Trail from Keynsham to Box, The Ringing Grooves of Change tells the gripping story of how a great man changed a great city for ever.