1. London Paddington
Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s trainshed at Paddington is one of the wonders of British architecture. The first real cathedral of the railway age, with columns supporting the innovative, ridge-and-furrow glazed roof, it was both decorative and ingeniously functional. Hidden pipes drained rainwater underneath the concourse floor, while the roof’s iron beams were pierced with geometric shapes to help the cleaners fit the scaffolding necessary to clean this complex structure.
2. Newcastle Central, Tyne & Wear
Hailed as one of the nation’s greatest stations, Newcastle Central Station is a classical tour-de-force. Designed by John Dobson, it was built in a commanding Doric style with a 600 feet long street façade. With the help of engineer Robert Stephenson, Dobson also designed the enormous trainshed, which comprises three arched glass roofs built in a curve. It was the first true iron-and-glass vault on a giant scale, and the ancestor of other great city station trainsheds.
3. Windsor and Eton Riverside, Berkshire
This engaging Tudor-style composition was perhaps the most playful station designed by Sir William Tite. A well-established architect who made his name internationally with the Royal Exchange in London, Tite turned his hand to station design in the 1830s and 40s. His railway work soon provided the bulk of his practice’s income.
4. Carlisle Citadel, Cumbria
The magnificent Citadel Station designed by Sir William Tite in 1847 for seven different railway companies, is built in fine, local red sandstone. Its grand, five-bay, buttressed porte-cochère is complemented by an ecclesiastical-looking clock tower.
5. Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Fronted by a magnificent classical portico, J P Pritchett’s Huddersfield station is a prime example of how classical features were used to add dignity to the new building type of the railway station. The result resembled the large Yorkshire country house Wentworth Woodhouse.
6. Monkwearmouth, Tyne & Wear
A grand, tetrastyle Ionic portico is flanked by wings incorporating Greek Doric columns and Tuscan pilasters; the result is a strikingly handsome classical civic building which resonates dignity and permanence. Designed by local architect Thomas Moore in 1848, Monkwearmouth Station now houses a small railway museum.
7. Battle, East Sussex
At Battle, William Tress’ Gothic-style station balanced the new technology of the Victorian era with the rich architectural tradition of England’s past. He chose a Gothic style to evoke the former splendours of the famous Battle Abbey nearby.
8. Wolferton, Norfolk
Wolferton was built to serve the Royal Family’s Sandringham estate. Eclectic architect W N Ashbee created a suite of Tudor-style royal reception and retiring rooms as well as a spacious carriage dock and a small gasworks, which lit the entire station. The body of King George VI, who died at Sandringham, was carried by funeral train from Wolferton in February 1952.
9. Great Malvern, Worcestershire
One of the most characterful stations of the 1860s, Great Malvern was designed by E W Elmslie in the Gothic style. Its deep platform awnings are supported by brackets with ornamental spandrels and iron columns topped by brightly coloured foliage-strewn capitals.
10. London St Pancras
At 243 feet wide, the trainshed at St Pancras, of 1865–8, was the largest man-made span in the world for over twenty years. It was designed by William Henry Barlow, the Midland Railway’s Chief Engineer, with the help of Rowland Mason Ordish, an expert on iron construction who had worked at the Crystal Palace, and the Royal Albert Hall. Two acres of glazing made up the roof, while its massive, iron ribs were decorated with quatrefoils, circles and stars.
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The English Railway Station, written by historian Steven Parissien, is an accessible, engaging and comprehensively illustrated general history of the architectural development and social history of the British railway station, from the dawn of the Railway Age to the ravages of the 1960s and the station’s rebirth at the end of the 20th century. It traces how the station evolved into a recognisable building type, examines the great cathedrals and the evocative country stations of the Victorian era, and looks at how the railway station has, over the last fifty years, regained its place at the heart of our communities.