On this day fifty years ago the Queen opened the new Euston station. This embedded video (below) from You Tube shows pretty much the whole proceedings. The large stone unveiled by the Queen still stands to this day near the escalators leading to the tube station.
Euston station is a place one can either like, or hate. Much applauded for its modernist design and more like an airport terminal than a railway station, nowadays many people see it as an eyesore. Many begrudge the fact the splendid architecture of the old station with its famous archway and great hall was swept away to make room for the new. Its regularly acknowledged as an act of vandalism, despite the herculean efforts of poet laureate John Betjeman and others to prevent the scheme going ahead.
Today Euston station’s again under threat of demolition as the new HS2 project builds up. Another round of demolition and years of reconstruction little more than fifty years after it was last done. Some people will approve however whilst others will advocate the merits of the 1968 station. It seems most definitely do not want HS2 and would much prefer a revamped Euston station and an upgraded West Coast main line.
This special 50th anniversary feature looks at Euston station from its beginnings in 1837 to the present day by way of pictures embedded from Twitter. Enjoy!
The original 1837 station entrance. Source: Twitter
Euston station as it originally was in 1837. Source: Twitter
The railway was open only to Boxmoor in 1837. Source: Twitter
A write up on the new railway from Euston to Birmingham 1838. Source: Twitter
L & B Rly cigar presentation box 1838. Source: Twitter
The rope hauled section of the London & Birmingham Railway from Park Street in 1838. Source: Twitter
The next picture is essentially a view looking in the opposite direction from the tall chimneys in the above view. These tall chimneys were for the steam operated winding engines that hauled the trains up the slope from Euston to Camden. Part of the buildings remain today and can be seen at the point the railway crosses the Regent’s Canal. The rope haulage system was built not because the locomotives had difficulty pulling the trains up this steep section, but the London & Birmingham railway were largely forbidden by law from operating its locomotives south of Camden.
Euston station was the first ever railway terminus to be built in the centre of London, thus many were probably nervous about steam locomotives venturing so far south and the Regent’s Canal formed the most natural boundary at which trains could be hauled by a different means. On the occasions when maintenance or repairs needed to be done to the rope system, steam locomotives were permitted to work their trains between Camden and Euston. The rope hauled operation lasted until 1844 when full locomotive operation took over.
The canal bridge at Camden, showing the then rope hauled railway (at left) looking south to Euston. Source: Twitter
These pictures are interesting because one (the first one) shows a double track, whist the other (above) shows a quadrupled track section. The picture with the double track is a sort of fanciful representation of the new railway and its not historically accurate. That showing the quadrupled section of track is more accurate. It seems at opening the slow (or spare lines) were adopted for rope haulage operation, and the express lines duly adapted in due course. I am not sure of the history however this may have indicated the railway company had hoped to resolve the issue of its locomotives being banned southwards from Camden by the time its line opened, but instead was forced to adopt the other set of running lines when it realised the legislature for this would not be repealed and thus the rope system is on all four lines as shown in the picture below
Its interesting to see ‘railroad’ is used instead of railway (it was applied too to the Stockton and Darlington/Liverpool and Manchester railways) and was indeed a term exported to America, but again, a number of systems in America called themselves railways rather than railroads, so it all depended on the company’s desire to identify itself however it wished.
The top of the incline from Euston, 1842, with the rope haulage system evident on all lines. Source: Twitter
Plan of the Camden engine house for the winding gear. Source: Twitter
The other end of the line, Birmingham Curzon Street 1839. Source: Twitter
Birmingham Curzon Street today, waiting for a revival as part of the proposed new HS2 terminus. Source: Twitter
Entrance to the old locomotive sheds at Camden, late 1830s. This would later be replaced by the famous Roundhouse. Source: Twitter
The Great Hall opened 28 May 1849. This is how it was intended to look. Source: Twitter
Plan of the station 1888. Source: Twitter
The famous arch – described as the ‘First great monument of the railway age.’ Source: Twitter
Kangaroo escapes at Euston station, 1903. Source: Twitter
Tobacco seller 1908. Source: Twitter
The refreshments trolley at Euston 1908. Source: Twitter
LNWR Scotch Express leaves Euston station circa 1909. Source: Twitter
The station 1909. Source: Twitter
Nearing Euston station. Spencer Gore 1911. Source: Twitter
The Great Hall in 1914. Note the large wall spaces where huge paintings should have been applied. (see earlier picture from 1849.) Source: Twitter
Soldiers’ free Christmas meal in one of the station’s buffets 1917. Source: Twitter
Rugs and pillows c1925. Five shillings each! Source: Twitter
Euston station at Christmas 1936. Source. Twitter
LMS 6220 Coronation on the Coronation Scot 1938. Source: Twitter
Fooling around at Euston 1939. Source: Twitter
Continued in Part two covering the period from war time to when when the original station was demolished and the new one opened 1968.