Brunel and Bradshaw were close contemporaries. One became Britain's most celebrated engineer, driving his iron rails across the country from London to the tip of Cornwall, while the other brought the experience of rail travel to the masses through his timetables and guide books. Although the GWR had opened in 1840, the through journey to Penzance had only become possible with the completion of the Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash in 1859, the year of Brunel's death.
Bradshaw's guide was published very shortly after the line opened. It gives the reader a unique insight into the new world of the Victorian railways and goes beyond the engineering aspects of the line to record the sights to be seen in the towns and cities encountered along the route. Brunel expert John Christopher presents Bradshaw's original account as a continuous journey from Paddington to Penzance. The text is accompanied by contemporary images as well as many new colour photographs of the same journey today.