Euston railway station

Euston railway station

Infobox London station
name = London Euston

manager = Network Rail
zone = 1
locale = Euston Road (Eversholt Street)
borough = London Borough of Camden
railcode = EUS
platforms = 18
railexits0405 = 26.256
railexits0506 = 27.167
railexits0607 = 25.585
years = 20 July 1837
events = Opened
latitude = 51.5287
longitude = -0.1345

Euston station (official name London Euston), is a major railway station to the north of central London in the London Borough of Camden and is the seventh busiest rail terminal in London (by entries and exits). [cite web|url=|title=Station Usage 2006/07|publisher=Network Rail|accessdate=2008-08-23] It is one of 18 British railway stations managed by Network Rail [cite web|url=|title=Stations Run by Network Rail|publisher=Network Rail|accessdate=2008-08-22] , and is the southern terminus of the West Coast Main Line. Euston is the main rail gateway from London to the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and Scotland.

It is connected to Euston tube station and near Euston Square tube station of the London Underground. These stations are in Travelcard Zone 1.


Although the present station building is in the international modern style, Euston was the first inter-city railway station to be built in London.

The station and the railway that it served experienced several changes in management, being owned in turn by the London and Birmingham Railway (1837–1845), the London and North Western Railway (1846–1922), the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (1923–1947), British Railways (1948–1994), Railtrack (1994–2001) and Network Rail (2001–present)

Old building

The original station was opened on July 20, 1837, as the terminus of the London and Birmingham Railway constructed by Robert Stephenson. It was designed by a well-known classically trained architect, Philip Hardwick [ [] - Website in memory of the Hardwick architects] , with a 200-ft (61 m) long engine shed by structural engineer Charles Fox. Initially it had only two platforms, one for departures and one for arrivals. Also designed by Hardwick was a 72 ft (22 m) high Doric propylaeum, the largest ever built [cite web|url=|title=Arch outside the main entrance to Euston Station, Camden, London, 1952|publisher=Museum of London Picture Library|accessdate=2007-08-19] , which was erected at the station's entrance to serve as a portico and became renowned as the Euston Arch. Interestingly, Stephenson's original plan was to route the railway through north London so that it terminated where King's Cross station currently stands, but after encountering severe opposition from landowners, he was forced to build the railway through Tring, Watford and Harrow, and terminating at its present site at Euston.

Until 1844, trains had to be pulled up the hill to Camden Town by cables as they did not have enough power to get there under their own steam.

The station grew rapidly over the following years as traffic increased. It was greatly expanded in the 1840s, with the opening in 1849 of the spectacular Great Hall (designed by Hardwick's son, Philip Charles Hardwick), built in classical style. It was 126 ft long, 61 ft wide and 64 ft high (38.1 m by 18.6 m by 18.9 m), with a coffered ceiling and a sweeping double flight of stairs leading to offices at the northern end of the hall. The station was further from Euston Road than the front of the modern complex; it was on Drummond Street, which now terminates at the side of the station, but then ran all the way across the front it [ [] - 1862 map, showing position of 1849 station.] . A short road called Euston Grove ran from Euston Square towards the arch. Two hotels, the Euston Hotel and the Victoria Hotel, flanked the northern half of this approach.

Apart from the lodges on Euston Road and statues now on the forecourt, few relics of the old station survive. The National Railway Museum's collection at York includes a commemorative plaque and E.H. Bailey's statue of George Stephenson, both from the Great Hall, the entrance gates and an 1846 LNWR turntable discovered during demolition.

New building

In the early 1960s it was decided that the old building was no longer adequate and needed replacing. Amid much public outcry the old station building (including the famous Euston Arch) was demolished in 1961-2 and replaced by a new building, which opened in 1968. Its opening coincided with the electrification of the West Coast Main Line, and the new structure was deliberately intended to symbolise the coming of the "electric age".

The modern station is a long, low structure with a frontage of some 647 ft. Part of the station building includes two office towers that look out onto adjacent Melton Street and Eversholt Street, and are home to Network Rail. All of these buildings are in a functional style and the main facing material is polished dark stone, which is complemented with white tiles, exposed concrete and plain glazing. The station has a single large concourse populated with the usual assortment of shops and eateries, and is separate from the train shed. A couple of small remnants of the older station were kept, two Portland stone entrance lodges (one of which has been a women-only bar since 1995) and a war memorial on Euston Road, but were hardly an effective sop to those offended by the loss of the former building. A statue of Robert Stephenson by Carlo Marochetti that stood in the old ticket hall now stands in the forecourt where it looks down on a convenience food stall. The frontage of the station building is hidden behind office buildings designed by Richard Seifert and a bus station. There is a large statue by Eduardo Paolozzi named "Piscator" at the front of the courtyard. A series of other pieces of public art including low stone benches by Paul de Monchaux around the courtyard were commissioned by Network Rail in the 1990s.

The positioning of the departure board aids the flow of passengers by encouraging those who are waiting to keep well back from the busy platform entrances. A secondary walkway under the main concourse provides passengers leaving suburban trains with a shortcut to the Tube. The positioning of the platforms helps keep the station warm and dry, while the access ramps have room for passengers to queue without obstructing the main concourse. The station has 18 platforms, with 8 - 11 being used exclusively for London Overground and London Midland commuter services, and are therefore equipped with automatic ticket gates. Two of the platforms have extra length, in order to accommodate the 16-car Caledonian Sleeper services.

Architectural Controversy

Euston's bleak 1960s style of architecture has been variously described as "hideous" [cite news | first=Michael | last=Williams | coauthors= | title=The real Eurostar: How a poet returned St Pancras to the nation |date=2007-09-14 | publisher= | url = | work =Daily Mail | pages = | accessdate = 2007-09-22 | language = ] , "a dingy, grey, horizontal nothingness" [cite news | first=Andrew | last=Martin | coauthors= | title=So, what would you burn? |date=2004-12-13 | publisher= | url = | work =New Statesman | pages = | accessdate = 2007-09-22 | language = ] , "an ugly desecration of a formerly impressive building" [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=National Rail Terminals in Central London – Part 1 – North | date= | publisher= | url = | work =BBC | pages = | accessdate = 2007-09-22 | language = ] , a reflection of "the tawdry glamour of its time" entirely lacking of "the sense of occasion, of adventure, that the great Victorian termini gave to the traveller" [cite news | first=Gavin | last=Stamp | coauthors= | title=Steam ahead: the proposed rebuilding of London's Euston station is an opportunity to atone for a great architectural crime |date=2007-10-01 | publisher= | url = | work =Apollo: the international magazine of art and antiques | pages = | accessdate = 2007-11-09 | language = ] , and "the worst of the Central London terminuses, both ugly and unfriendly to use" [ cite web|url= |title=The Open Guide to London: Euston Station |accessdate=2007-09-22 ] . Writing in The Times, Richard Morrison stated that "even by the bleak standards of Sixties architecture, Euston is one of the nastiest concrete boxes in London: devoid of any decorative merit; seemingly concocted to induce maximum angst among passengers; and a blight on surrounding streets. The design should never have left the drawing-board - if, indeed, it was ever on a drawing-board. It gives the impression of having been scribbled on the back of a soiled paper bag by a thuggish android with a grudge against humanity and a vampiric loathing of sunlight". [cite news | first=Richard | last=Morrison | coauthors= | title=Euston: we have an architectural problem |date=2007-04-10 | publisher= | url = | work =The Times | pages = | accessdate = 2007-09-22 | language = ]

Access to parts of the station are difficult for the disabled. The ramps that descend from the concourse down to platform level are too steep for unassisted wheelchairs and the Underground station, taxi rank and car park are all directly within the building but are inaccessible to people in wheelchairs as none are step-free. The latter two are accessed by staircases near the front of the building.

The demolition of the old Euston Station building in 1962 is regarded as "one of the greatest acts of Post-War architectural vandalism in Britain" and is believed to have been finally sanctioned by the then Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. The attempts made to preserve the building, featuring notably the Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman, led to the formation of The Victorian Society and heralded in the modern conservation movement. [ [,%20Euston%20Station.aspx Royal Institution of British Architects, "How We Built Britain" exhibition] , Retrieved on September 9 2007] ; the new train shed being low-ceilinged, making no attempt to match the airy style of London's major 19th century train sheds. The loss of Euston Station may however have saved the high-gothic St. Pancras Station when similarly faced with demolition by British Rail in 1966. Championed by John Betjeman and a resurgent conservationist movement the station survived, to be ultimately re-ordered in 2007 as the terminus of the high-speed route to the Continent.

1973 IRA Attack

Extensive but superficial damage was caused to the station by an IRA bomb which exploded close to a snack bar at approximately 13.10 on the 10 September 1973, injuring eight commuters. The Metropolitan Police had received a three minute warning but were unable to evacuate the station completely before the device exploded. In 1974, the mentally ill Judith Ward was convicted of this and other crimes despite the evidence against her being highly suspicious. She was completely acquitted in 1992, and the actual culprit has not been apprehended [ [ BBC On This Day 1973:Bomb blasts rock Central London] , Retrieved on February 27 2007] .


Following privatisation of the railways in the 1990s, the station was taken over by Railtrack and was subsequently transferred to Network Rail. In 2005 Network Rail was reported to have long-term aspirations to redevelop the station, removing the 1960s buildings and providing a great deal more commercial space by utilising the "air rights" above the platforms.

In December 2005 Network Rail announced plans to create a subway link between the station and Euston Square tube station as part of the re-development of Euston station, creating a direct link between the two Euston stations which at the moment are separated by a five minute walk along Euston Road [ [] - Euston to Euston Square subway link] .

Second re-building announcement 2007

On 5 April 2007, British Land announced they had won the tender to demolish the existing 40 year old building and rebuild the terminal, spending some £250m of their overall redevelopment budget of £1bn for the area. As a result the number of platforms will increase from 18 to 21 [ [ - "British Land win development of Euston contract"] ] . Media reports in early 2008 hinted that there is now a strong chance that the old Euston Arch could be rebuilt. [ [ The Times, "Landmark of the railway age may be resurrected", 18 February 2008"] ]


Four train companies operate from Euston:

*First ScotRail: Sleeper services to and from Scotland, terminating at either Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen , Fort William or Inverness.

*London Midland: Longer distance commuter services using the slow tracks of the West Coast Main Line serving Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire. Main towns served include Watford, Tring, Hemel Hempstead, Milton Keynes and Northampton. It also has an unusual stopping service to Liverpool via Tamworth.

*London Overground: Local commuter services to and from local stations in north west London using a combination of the Watford DC Line and Bakerloo Line of the London Underground.

*Virgin Trains: Inter-city services on the West Coast Main Line. Principal towns and cities served include Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Rugby, Crewe, Chester, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

London Underground

Euston station is directly connected to, and above, Euston tube station, which is served by the Victoria Line and Northern Line (both Bank and Charing Cross branches) of the London Underground.

Euston Square tube station on the Circle Line, Hammersmith & City Line and Metropolitan Line is a three-minute walk from the station along Euston Road.


See also

*Curzon Street Station - The Birmingham counterpart of the original Euston station.

External links

* [ Station information] on Euston railway station from Network Rail
* [ Euston Station and railway works] - information about the old station from the "Survey of London" online.
* [ Euston Station Panorama]
* [ Euston Arch Trust] - the campaign for the return of the Euston Arch to the station with detailed history and gallery.

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