A Euston station era ends

A Euston station era ends

They haven’t closed Euston station – not yet! The HS2 machine is still marching on relentless however as reported sometime back it all depends on the Oakervee report. They were not actually planning on closing the station completely! Nevertheless things have met their end regardless and one of the bigger victims of HS2 was the old Euston taxi rank. This underground facility built in the sixties was perhaps the first of its kind in the UK – one for taxis, the other a public car park.

The site will become part of the new lower concourse and ticket hall for the underground. This will link to the main HS2 concourse and also to Euston Square station by way of a connecting tunnel. What it means is when the whole project is finished passengers traversing between the main line station and Euston Square will in fact be walking through the areas where the taxis once ran. In this post we’ll take a look at its construction, its last days and its closure – with a good number of pictures to illustrate.

The new rank opened on the 6th January 2019. The old had closed on the 5th.

The public car park closed in October 2019, however the taxi rank soldered on rather longer than intended, largely because the replacement facility on the site of Euston Square gardens was considerably behind schedule. An October switch-over was also originally planned for the taxi ranks – but it was eventually deferred to January 2019, the 6th to be exact. This week is the first anniversary of the closure of the old taxi rank – and the opening of the new one.

The car park and taxi rank under construction probably 1965. The ramp from the upper level to the lower level can be seen behind the nearest crane tower. If one looks carefully the old tube station (Charing Cross Euston & Hampstead Railway) can be seen in the distance (behind the furthest crane tower.) Source: Rail Engineer

Construction of the underground taxi rank in 1968. Source: Rail Engineer

Google Streets has images of the older more airy Euston station concourse in 2012 (before the raft consisting the upper level cafes was built.) The main taxi rank access point looked more inviting in the old setting.

One surprise that arose as part of my research was the accessible lifts to the taxi rank and tube ticket hall (and the adjacent stairwell) had been built much later than I thought. The project was completed in 2009. See here for details.

The excavated shaft for the construction of the new lifts in 2009. Source: Osborne

The lifts were finished in 2009 to give access to the tube station and taxi ranks.

I took a good number of pictures of the old Euston station taxi rank during its final couple of days. I wanted to record this for prosperity because its part of my ongoing record of the works being done for HS2. Just let it be known the site’s supervisor gave the okay for me to do these photographs. But first a diagram to show the layout of the former taxi rank….

Diagram of the old taxi rank.

Much of the area in question was actually underneath the piazza immediately outside the station. A small part of it however was directly underneath the main station concourse itself. There was actually two main levels to the old taxi rank area. The first (from Melton Street) led to the drop off zone. From here the taxis could either choose one of two ramps one was for waiting for fares and the other perhaps taxis needing to go straight down to collect booked passengers. Taxis (eg with disabled occupants) or perhaps those not taking any more fares didn’t have to go this route. These taxis could simply turn right past the public car park entrance and join the upwards ramp to Melton Street. Those that went down the ramps, once down here these taxis then picked up new fares (or bookings) at the pick-up zone. This was on a lower level than the drop-off zone. Taxis then entered a tunnel that turned southwards and up a ramp to where it met the other access roads from the public car park. These merged routes then turned south-west to ascend another ramp in order to return to Melton Street.

Poster re the station car park which had closed a few months earlier.

There were two other elements to this quite substantial underground parking area. The first was the public parking area (closed since October 2018) and the other the private parking area which was specific to the two towers that rose from this point – namely the Grant Thornton and One Euston Square towers. They too had ramps off Melton Street however these ramps were single lane only in either direction because they were light use. As I have illustrated in previous posts these towers too are coming down and at the time of writing the demolition of both has progressed such that each has been almost razed to ground level.

Parts of the former taxi rank site are at the moment being used for storage of materials and equipment for the HS2 works and it can currently still be accessed via the downwards ramp off Melton Street. At some point this use will cease and the space will be required for the next phase of the works which is to begin the new corridors and concourses that will form the lower level of the HS2 part of Euston station.

Photographs of the old Euston station taxi rank in its last days

Vehicle headlights in the glare as it comes up the old taxi ramp – with the new rank on the right almost ready to be opened.

Taxis descending down to the drop-off area. This is a view from Melton Street.

The drop-off (set down) area. This area also doubled as a disabled persons taxi pick up point because the lower level had no lift access. The Melton Street ramp can be seen in the distance.

View looking the other way. One of the ramps down to the main pick up area can be seen. Note the signs denoting the two ramps and their specific use.

View at the bottom of the ramps. This is the lower level area looking up the ramps to the upper level (drop off) area. On the right is the footway for pedestrians from the upper area wishing to access the lower area.

There were these delightful numbered bays in the lower area.

General view of the lower (pick up) area. The line up of taxis on the right has come down the ramps. Those on the left are queuing for fares.

Taxis descending the ramp to wait their turn to enter the pick up area.

General view of the main passenger pick up area.

The entrance to the tunnel at the far end of the pick up area. This returned vehicles to Melton Street. Further on the tunnel joined with the other routes form the upper rank area (and the former public car park) before turning once again to ascend up to Melton Street.

How did passengers access the taxi rank directly from the main station concourse itself? These pictures show how!

The main entrance to the taxi rank, opposite the tube escalators (the arrangement had at this time not been altered to provide a new tube entrance.) The blanked out detail on the sign denoted the public car park. Note the alternative taxi rank route which is signed via the lifts.

At the bottom of the stairs was this nice wide corridor lined with stainless steel panels. Its actually a bridge over the main taxi pick up area. At the far end was a pair of stairs leading off either side down to the ranks.

View at the end of the corridor looking down the right hand steps. The passenger waiting area is evident. This direct route from the station was of course not an accessible route.

In terms of accessibility, if anyone had heavy luggage and needed to use the lifts to access the taxi ramp, it wasn’t really very convenient. What it meant was firstly the lifts were used to gain access to the drop-off area. From here one would then need to use a narrow footway running alongside the pair of ramps to gain access to the pick-up area!

Something the taxi rank area had that the main station no longer had was its stainless steel features. In the above picture the 1960s stainless steel staircase banisters can clearly be seen. There was also stainless steel panelling (eg the corridor pictured above) and stainless steel signs!

There’s more of this in the second part of this series! Also featured are other aspects of the taxi rank area including escalators and the changes that occurred immediately the rank had been closed.

Continued in Part Two.