While Brunel was still in Bristol, and with the Avon Bridge project stopped or going slowly, he became aware that the civic authorities saw the need for a railway link to London.

Railway location was controversial, since private landowners and towns had to be dealt with. Mainly, the landed gentry did not want a messy, noisy railway anywhere near them. The Duke of Wellington (of Waterloo fame) was certainly against it; he is reported to have said,

“... it will only encourage the lower classes to move about...”

Again Brunel showed great skill in presenting his arguments to the various committees and individuals. A person observing his performance in hearings in the House of Lords described him as,

“... rapid in thought, clear in his language, and [he] never said too much, or lost his presence of mind.”