William Brock came to Bristol in the 1850s where he started his business in the shadow of Brunel’s station. As his business grew he established his Steam Joinery Works on the stretch of Albert Road where Bristol Dogs Home now stands. It was described as, “the most important and largest of the kind in the West of England “. – Times and Mirror
Brock was a creative worker, keen to reduce manual labour and increase quality and productivity by using modern methods. He was inventive in developing the tools he needed to carry out large contracts – his factory contained more than one Brock-designed feature. He pioneered pre-fabrication which allowed him to supply markets across the south west.
He undertook various municipal projects involving Bristol’s waterways and bridges including the construction of St Philips Bridge and the widening of Bristol Bridge.
Brock was an enthusiastic railwayman, building many local stations along branch lines, as well as the larger stations of Taunton and Weston-super-Mare. It may have been greater companies that brought the tracks to the west but William Brock made it possible for townspeople and villagers along the way to travel to the coast for days of adventure. From there they might join a trip on a Campbell’s steam to take them further afield, and of course to come to the big city.
One of his most notable building successes is the Swiss House on the Leigh Woods side of Brunel’s famous bridge. The stunning red and cream brick façade of the Fish Market in Baldwin Street was another of his buildings. Other works include the restoration of the woodwork in Bath Abbey and building Holy Nativity in the 1870s. His building work took him, or at least his joinery’s output, further afield – to many churches in London and as far as Caracas in Venezuela where he shipped one of his railway stations!
There is now a new bridge to Temple Island that bears his name.