West entrance to Box Tunnel on the Great Western Railway, 1846.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Coloured lithograph by John Cooke Bourne (1814-1896) and printed by C F Cheffins. A steam locomotive is shown emerging from the tunnel with signals to the left of it. The Great Western Railway (GWR) was built from 1835 to provide a route from Bristol to London, using broad gauge track developed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859). The line opened fully in 1841. The 2939 metre long tunnel dug through Box Hill, Wiltshire, between Bath and Chippenham was the longest railway tunnel in the world when it was completed in 1841. The lives of about 100 navvies were lost during the course of its construction, which took five years and cost six and a half million pounds. The rising sun is said to shine straight through the tunnel every year on 9 April, Brunel's birthday.