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This wrought iron object was found on the route of what was the Bristol and North Somerset Railway, which opened in 1873.
The intricacies of Victorian railway construction are not exactly common knowledge, but the following description of the track's structure shows this little component had a vital role to play. Resting on its bed of gravel ballast, the wooden railway sleeper supports the metal chair into which the rail fits, being wedged in place by the key.
This key was evidently overlooked and left beside the line when the rails were dismantled after it finally closed in 1963.
Find spot: National Cycle Network Route 3, Brislington, Bristol. ST 614687
Exhibit contributed by Kai Taylor
Text written by Ken Taylor, in 2011
Photographer: Ken Taylor
Acquisition number: 110521a1