Blue plaque unveiled for one of Britain’s ‘great engineers’ at Ipswich Station
PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 June 2019
A blue heritage plaque has been unveiled by the Ipswich Society for an “instrumental” engineer who helped connect Suffolk to the rest of the country – by designing and building the railway line to London.
Peter Bruff died at the age of 87 in Ipswich, after living in the Suffolk town for more than half a century.
Mr Bruff was born in Portsmouth in 1812 and began his career learning his profession as a civil engineer - by helping to build railway lines between Liverpool and Manchester.
He eventually found himself in the east working for Eastern County Railways (ECR) project, which planned to build the railway from London up to Norwich.
A lack of finances and perceived technical problems meant that building work stopped at Colchester - and much of East Anglia remained disconnected from the capital as a result.
After leaving ECR, Mr Bruff surveyed the route north and in 1846, with the financial help of John Chevallier Cobbold, he brought the newly formed Eastern Union Railway to Ipswich.
He was architect of the line beyond Ipswich to Bury St Edmunds and eventually to Norwich by 1849.
This included boring Stoke Hill Tunnel in Ipswich - allegedly the first tunnel in the world built on a curve.
Generations of Mr Bruff's family attended the unveiling, which took place at Ipswich railway station this week, alongside more than 20 guests.
Mr Bruff's great-great granddaughter Virginia Jani and his great grandson Peter were given the honour of revealing the plaque for the first time.
Tony Robinson, Ipswich Society Blue Plaque co-ordinator, said: "The year 1812 was very significant in the Portsmouth area, two great men were born there - Charles Dickens, and Peter Schuyler Bruff.
"In his long life of 87 years Bruff accomplished much, particularly in Ipswich, where he also lived for over 50 years.
"To summarise - he was one of our great British engineers forging the industrial revolution in this part of the country in the mid to late 19th Century."
Outside Suffolk he is regarded as the father of Clacton, building a small village into the seaside town we know today.
He also designed the longest bridge in East Anglia over the River Colne Valley in Essex.
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