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British Industrial History

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Euston Railway Station

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Euston Arch.
Image published in 1894.
Pneumatic Tube from Eversholt Street. Picture published in 1894.

Euston was the first inter-city railway station to be built in London. London Bridge was the first railway station

The station and the railway that it served experienced several changes in management, being owned in turn by:

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, with a 200 ft long engine shed by structural engineer Charles Fox. It had only two platforms, one for departures and one for arrivals.

Also designed by Hardwick was a 72 ft high Doric propylaeum, the largest ever built, which was erected at the station's entrance to serve as a portico and became renowned as the Euston Arch. 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 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 , 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. 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.

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".

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