One Single Ticket

A gripping Victorian detective mystery based on historical facts

Brunel's most creative vision - travel from London to New York on one single ticket

Share this page on social media

The Portbury Pier and Railway Company

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was very aware of the topographical restrictions of the River Avon in Bristol; which appeared on the face of it, to be unsolvable.

But he had the solution. Why not construct a massive deep water harbour and pier at Portbury? A railway spur from Temple Meads Station would link the two together for a continuous journey.

And so a plan was in place. It was secured not only by an Act of Parliament, but also by a very substantial financial investment and share capital amounting to £200,000 from the Bristol Merchants – a fortune in those days.

Why then was the project abandoned inexplicably in 1852? Who and what force was behind a project that would have brought so much additional prosperity to this city? It made no sense.

Many of the real answers lay concealed in the mists of time, but 18 months of extensive research have revealed some of the secrets and mysteries of this compelling piece of Bristol history. And they form the perfect ingredients for Brunel’s Vision: One Single Ticket, a Victorian drama set in and around the city. Clifton would inevitably play a central role in the telling of this story.


 

The Research


As we know, Brunel’s Portbury scheme never came to fruition and was abandoned inexplicably in 1852. There is no clue as to the truth; but the notion of vested interest and double-dealing seems obvious from the historical documents we have uncovered. Or more aptly from the documents we have been unable to discover.

So what exactly did happen back then? Why did such a viable enterprise simply disappear? The cost of lost opportunity to Bristol would have been huge. The mail service contract alone would have been hugely valuable, let alone the passenger and cargo business.

In my story I had to invent an explanation to fit in with the facts. But one thing was for certain, there was one document I desperately wanted to find in order to discover whether a planned rail route actually existed. Brunel was a thorough, meticulous man…


What Readers Think

  • A detective story told at a breathless pace, with a Richard Hannay type hero straight out of a John Buchan thriller, and it goes with a swing
    Professor Angus Buchanan
    Author of ‘Brunel: The Life and Times of Isambard Kingdom Brunel
  • The plot is so interesting, and the setting so well done; a delight to get a scenic picture of this special event in history.
    Dr. Gabrielle Obrist
    Museum of Modern Art, Zȕrich
  • Robert Wallace and his researchers have done it again! Historical accuracy combined with gripping, creative fiction authorship makes One Single Ticket a must read. If you liked Richard Hannay's The 39 Steps you'll love this!
    Jonathan R
    Managing Editor - www.TradShack.com
  • Set in the 1850s, this is an engaging story and, as the 'blurb' suggests, quite fast paced, "A Single Ticket" involves Isambard Kingdom Brunel (ISK) and his dreams of a railway services and boat services joining London-Bristol-New York by means of railway lines that he has engineered using liners he has designed. Not only would such an uninterrupted service bring prestige to IKB, it would also be quicker and more economical for passengers and traders to use ISK's services via Bristol than to use others via Liverpool or Glasgow in connecting with America. Big, steady profits would be made if he could win government postal contracts offering a streamlined train and liner service. But, ah-ha! there are unscrupulous businessmen - in Britain? In America? - unwilling to let ISK enter the north Atlantic passenger and freight liner routes. This story, grounded in historical facts, is a good yarn; a literate, intelligent, well paced yarn.
    Dave Boyksa
    Literate, intelligent, well paced
  • This was a fast moving story, that kept my attention. there was mystery, romance and adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Vicky Sheldon
    An exciting adventure
  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel is one of my heroes and this book tells a story which was completely unknown to me. Robert Wallace certainly has done his research and his knowledge of Brunel and Bristol shines through his writing and the contemporary illustrations enhance the reading experience. If you are interested in Bristol, Brunel, railways or just like a good yarn this is a book for you.
    Mrs R Lancaster
    Great combination of historical detail and fast paced action
  • I really enjoyed this. Really good mix of fact & fiction that blended seamlessly. Living in Bristol I knew a little about IBK, SS Great Britain GWR etc., but I now know a great deal more, and every time I drive past the SS Great Britain, I shall be thinking about what could have been!
    A. C. Prosser
    Great read!
  • A very good read , it was written in a way that you imagine people of the time would write . It was a good plot with a lot of historical fact . Students who were studying Brunel would find this an interesting read alongside their course studies. If you like John Buchan books you’ll enjoy this one.
    Bernard Johnston
    Fiction interspersed with a huge amount of facts.
  • I loved the idea of basing this pretty strong story around Brunel's work. Though distracted by what occasionally felt like an uneasy style, I was hooked until the end, wondering who to cast in the film! That's always a good sign and it's a good book.
    Michael Field
    Steaming along
  • This book was recommended to me even though historic works are not usually among my reading material. It did not disappoint. The plot is a fusion of historical characters and events with a plausible fictional extension. The narrative has intrigue, pace, was tinged with a wry humour and all enveloped in a dialogue that truly captured the atmosphere of the mid 19th century. The main character could have been an early version of Bond but with a knuckleduster instead of a DB5 and the gadgetry. If you are looking at this review and like something a bit different this book is well worth a read.
    Nigel Clarke
    One Single Ticket - Robert Wallace
  • A work of fiction that contains so many facts about the period that you start to wonder where the dividing line is. Thoroughly believable and entertaining.
    Ray Hawkins
    Totally absorbed into the period
  • I liked the character of Harry Brooke , who is a Victorian detective hired by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the famous engineer to solve a mystery. Brooke’s task is to identify the person or persons trying to destroy his vision: a seamless journey from London via Bristol to New York on One Single Ticket. The novelty of the tale is combining real-life and imagined characters. I thought the atmosphere of Victorian England was deep in solid facts, which the author obviously had researched in great depth. The story opens and closes on Brunel’s ship, the SS Great Britain on her maiden voyage to Australia in August 1852, where Brooke recounts his story to a mystery lady. But who is she? Why is she there? And what surprises does she bring. I like the fact that the book includes real as well as imagined characters.
    Sally Anne Smith
    This story is reminiscent of Holmes and Watson with a dash of Richard Hannay
  • Although the great Victorian engineer Brunel is at the centre of this story, the real intrigue lies elsewhere. At the heart of this tale are Brooke and Bishop, hired by Brunel to investigate strange occurrences in his business empire. Brooke and Bishop are a curious couple; they remind you of Holmes and Watson. But it is their interaction with real historical figures - Brunel and Guppy - that makes the story so interesting. I found the action and the pace made it quite a page flicker. The careful research and the illustrations of Victorian Britain give the perfect atmosphere to a compelling narrative. An enjoyable read!
    Reader Group
  • A marvellous book featuring one of the iconic engineers of our time. The intense dramatisation of the victorian period with all it's social decadence yet undercurrent of dodgy dealings and who to trust makes this book a fabulous page turner The fiction is so well weaved in historical fact the reader is left wondering if this really happened - we will never know!
    Carrie
    A fabulously intriguing Victorian Drama
  • An intriguing tale of mystery, romance and action set against a vivid backdrop of Victorian times, and brought to life with great detail and accuracy. The characters are colourful and engaging and the book is beautifully illustrated. The story unfolds at a fast pace leading to a surprising but most satisfactory conclusion. A highly recommended read!
    Reader Group
    A tantalising mystery
  • Really enjoyed this book - an intriguing tale was well written - look forward to more works of this author
    Julie B (Reader group)
    A really good read
  • A seamless blend of historic facts and well constructed fiction. It is easy to imagine that the events described in the book really did take place, particularly as the fictional characters are very believable and interact convincingly with their real life counterparts and places. The plot moves along at a goodly pace with some interesting twists and turns. Well worth reading.
    Reader Group
    A well written and enjoyable work of blended historical fact and fiction
  • Robert Wallace and his researchers have done it again! Historical accuracy combined with gripping, creative fiction authorship makes One Single Ticket a must read. If you liked Richard Hannay's The 39 Steps you'll love this!
    Laura (Reader group)
    Absolutely brilliant!
  • A page turner of a novel, with twists and turns to envelop you in the Victorian era. The inventiveness of IKB and his contemporaries only outshone by their imaginations and engineering genius. All the time trying to out-do each other by fair means or foul!
    Marty (Reader Group)
    Fast paced, fun "whodunnit", packed with intriguing facts about Britain's favourite engineer.
  • Fascinating tale at a rip roaring pace! Historical accuracy is a trademark of the author, This his latest work does not disappoint.
    Andy (Reader group)
    One Single Ticket
  • Historically interesting with a fast paced plot. Historical figures, romance, intrigue, twist in the tail. All in all a great read.
    Chris (Reader group)
    Period spy thriller
  • Although the great Victorian engineer Brunel is at the centre of this story, the real intrigue lies elsewhere. At the heart of this tale are Brooke and Bishop, hired by Brunel to investigate strange occurrences in his business empire. Brooke and Bishop are a curious couple; they remind you of Holmes and Watson. But it is their interaction with real historical figures - Brunel and Guppy - that makes the story so interesting. I found the action and the pace made it quite a page flicker. The careful research and the illustrations of Victorian Britain give the perfect atmosphere to a compelling narrative. An enjoyable read!
    Amazon Verified Purchaser
  • Love this version, and so glad to be able to read it again, bits I'd forgotten! Masterfully assembled story, with narrative and language appropriate to the time/era and a lively, pacing story that flowed. Pictures a a great idea... Research extensive and accurate! Well done Roberto!
    Anne
    An old friend!
  • An intriguing tale of mystery, romance and action set against a vivid backdrop of Victorian times, and brought to life with great detail and accuracy. The characters are colourful and engaging and the book is beautifully illustrated. The story unfolds at a fast pace leading to a surprising but most satisfactory conclusion. A highly recommended read!
    Mrs P
    A tantalising mystery
  • A seamless blend of historic facts and well constructed fiction. It is easy to imagine that the events described in the book really did take place, particularly as the fictional characters are very believable and interact convincingly with their real life counterparts and places. The plot moves along at a goodly pace with some interesting twists and turns. Well worth reading.
    Wood Cutter Frog
    A well written and enjoyable work of blended historical fact and fiction