Maidenhead Railway Bridge, crossing the Thames between Maidenhead in Berkshire and Taplow in Buckinghamshire. Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Completed 1839. No-one before had put fast, heavy trains over an arch with such a wide, flat span. It is said that the Great Western directors insisted that Brunel left the wooden centring in place as a fail-safe; he did, but made sure there was a small gap between it and the brickwork. Less spectacular than his Clifton Suspension or Saltash bridges, this is nonetheless an astonishing feat for its time.

Note: this is the bridge featured in Turner's well-known Rain, Steam and Speed (c.1844).

Main photograph and commentary by Colin Price. Formatting and note by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use the image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or to the Victorian Web in a print document. Click on both images to enlarge them, and for more information about the painting.]

Created 13 March 2016