Thomas Brassey (1805 - 1870) was a renowned Victorian engineer. His small civil engineering business branched out into a whole range of different areas from the one of predominately working on land surveying. He owned and managed brick works and sand and stone quarries in the Wirral, and much of his business growth was in the Birkenhead area. He also supplied many of the bricks for the emerging Liverpool. Brassey was innovative in the way in which he handled the materials and he 'palatted', (to use a modern term), his bricks so as to avert the damage and breakages caused by the tipping of wagon loads of them. He also designed a 'gravity train', that ran from the brick works and stone quarry site down to the port, and the empty carriages were then horse drawn back to the works, thus saving considerable time and effort.
His earliest contracts were on Merseyside, notably supplying bricks for the Customs House in Liverpool and his first venture into the realm of civil engineering involved the building of the a four mile stretch of the New Chester Road at Branborough, ( recorded by that name but in reality Bromborough!) in 1834. It was during this stage of his life that he first met another of the great engineers of the day, George Stephenson, who was looking for stone for the construction of the Sankey viaduct on the Manchester to Liverpool railway. This was to be the first railway for passenger traffic that was ever constructed in the world. George Stephenson met Thomas Brassey at his Storeton Quarry and it would appear that from this meeting Thomas Brassey was encouraged to enter into the emerging world of railway building. By 1848, Brassey, once a Claughton resident, had built three quarters of the French railway system. In Saughall Massey Thomas Brassey claimed built a small bridge across the arrowe brook in order to help drain the marshy area and allow easier transportation. In those days wrecking at certain points of the Wirral was still ongoing and the authorities has a hard time catching up with the criminals due to poor transportation and thick marshy land. In 2007 and 137 years after his death, English Heritage & Wirral Borough Council held a small ceremony in Saughall Massie and awarded the Saughall Massie Bridge that leads into the conservation area, a Grade II Listed status. A special plaque commemorating the event was unveiled at the time. The bridge is the first constructed by the per-eminent Victorian civil engineering contractor and thus should be treated as a special object within Wirral.
In their award documents to the Saughall Massie Village Conservation Area Society, it stated: "As the starting point for Thomas Brassey's illustrious career, Saughall Massie Bridge is of significant national importance and therefore merits listing."
At the peak of his success he had built thousands of miles of railways in nine other European countries as well as India, Australia, Mauritius, Canada and South America. Birkenhead-based, Brassey was awarded the Legion of Honour by France, Order of St Maurice & St Lazarus from Italy and helped open up the continents. Such honours befit a man termed as "One of the great unsung heroes of the railway age" Brassey was perhaps the most important civil engineering contractor in the world in the nineteenth century, building railways in Britain, Europe, Asia, Australia, North and South America." -- ICE