Looking at Buildings

Building Types


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Dublin, Connolly Station

Termini are most common in the largest cities, particularly London, which has over a dozen. This is partly because it was so expensive to construct railway lines through from one side of the city to the other, and partly because the railways of the United Kingdom were built by many separate companies, often in fierce competition. London’s earliest termini have all been rebuilt, but a good selection of 1840s buildings can still be seen in Dublin. Connolly Station has a train shed typical of the1840s, with twin pitched roofs braced by thin iron framing and resting on a central cast-iron arcadeGlossary Term.

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King's Cross Station

The oldest London terminus to preserve its original form is King's Cross, built for the Great Northern Railway by Sir William Cubitt in 1851-2. It has long enclosures for the trains under twin round-archedGlossary Term roofs, expressed as big glazed openings in the thick walls of brick. The clock tower marks the central dividing wall between the roofs. The structure is not purely utilitarian - the proportions are carefully calculated, and the whole is recognizably in the ItalianateGlossary Term style then in favour - but it shares the simplified lines of viaducts and other functional railway structures of the period.

The laminated timber which Cubitt used for the roof arches at King's Cross has since been replaced by wrought ironGlossary Term.

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London, Victoria Station

Many termini and a good few through stations included a HOTEL, especially those built from the 1850s onwards. The railway age swelled the numbers of people travelling, many of whom needed overnight accommodation. Building hotels helped the railways companies to capitalize on this demand, and also provided other useful facilities such as meeting and refreshment rooms. The Grosvenor Hotel at London Victoria, of 1860-2, is a particularly impressive example, with its fat French-style pavilionGlossary Term roofs and artificial stone decoration.

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The Midland Hotel, St Pancras Station
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St Pancras Station, Train shed

At St Pancras, the terminus of the Midland Railway built next door to King's Cross in 1868-76, the hotel entirely masks the train shed from the street. Its designer was Sir George Gilbert Scott, one of the leaders of the profession, who used an advanced medieval style based on a range of Continental sources - a world away from the stripped simplicities of King's Cross next door.

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Brighton Station

Great arched terminus roofs of the kind used at King's Cross and St Pancras were not unique to London: other fine examples can be seen for example at Liverpool Lime Street (London & North Western Railway), which has twin roofs of 1867 and 1874-9, and at Brighton, built in 1882-3 for the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway, where the original station house of the 1840s was incorporated.

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Tynemouth Station

But by late Victorian times, these great roofs were giving way to cheaper, more flexible, but visually less dramatic systems involving repeated shorter spans, which were suitable for termini and through stations equally. These were also more efficient at bringing natural lightGlossary Term down to the concourse, which in stations of this period tend to be more spacious than those built in the railways' infancy. The example shown is the North Eastern Railway station at Tynemouth, Northumberland, a through station built in 1882.


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