IN spite of bad weather, many members and visitors gathered on February 9 to hear David Greenfield tell a tale of poor management and difficult personalities during building of the Bristol to Exeter Railway in 1836.

David's research began when he first heard that the bridges had been built too low for engines to pass under!

He unearthed a turbulent relationship between the two engineers: I.K.Brunel and William Gravatt.

There were also problems with landowners. Added to this, the stone bridges subsided into the soft earth of the Somerset Levels and some were built too low.

Gravatt got the blame, fairly or otherwise, and was dismissed.

Gravatt was also appointed engineer to the River Parrett Navigation. His bridge at Langport survives, and his Langport Sluice Gates are now held by the Westonzoyland Engine Trust.

The next SIAS meeting is on February 23. Dr Richard Brunning will describe LIDAR, an exciting new development in radar, which is yielding many surprises for archaeology.

SIAS meetings start 7.30pm, North Town School, off Wood Street, Taunton. All welcome. Parking and refreshments available. Visit our website: