Engineer worried factory waste was contaminating Bristol water supplies, papers show

Newly discovered letters written by Isambard Kingdom Brunel more than 175 years ago show the pioneering engineer was aware of some of the the environmental impact as he helped to industrialise Britain.

Brunel worried that factory waste was polluting water supplies in Bristol, although he said this was “in some measure unavoidable”. However, his main concern was disruption to trade as the docks became laden with mud, causing large vessels to run aground.

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