The early19th century was a period of prosperity for the city of London. Beginning with the acceleration of growth in the 18th century, London found itself to be the largest city in the world by the early 19th century. To accommodate this increase in population and crowding, alternative methods of transportation were in demand. As a result, the emergence of transport by train was developed. Some of London’s most important rail stations were developed at this time creating an extensive network of rails that would stretch in all directions from London to the rest of England and are still very active today.
Euston StationAlthough the present station building is in the International Modern style, Euston was the first inter-city rail station built in London. The original station looked very different than the current structure. Its Greek Revival Doric portal, “Euston Arch”, introduced the concept of a monumental railway station as the modern portal to a city. Its loss helped galvanize the environmental conservation movement in Britain, which had previously been focused on preserving picturesque vernacular architecture and unspoiled landscapes (Betjeman 124).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-foot long engine shed by structural engineer Charles Fox. Initially it had only two platforms, one for departures and one for arrivals. 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 (Betjeman 125).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, built in classical style. It was 125 feet long, 61 feet wide and 62 feet high, with a coffered ceiling and a sweeping double flight of stairs leading to offices at the northern end of the hall. A 72-foot high Doric arch was erected at the station’s entrance to serve as a portico; this became renowned as the Euston Arch (Symes 78).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 1962 and replaced by a new building, which opened in 1968.