DSC 0406fi - Euston Station Anniversary Special

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!

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The original 1837 station entrance. Source: Twitter

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Euston station as it originally was in 1837. Source: Twitter

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The railway was open only to Boxmoor in 1837. Source: Twitter

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A write up on the new railway from Euston to Birmingham 1838. Source: Twitter

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L & B Rly cigar presentation box 1838. Source: Twitter

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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.

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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.

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The top of the incline from Euston, 1842, with the rope haulage system evident on all lines. Source: Twitter

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Plan of the Camden engine house for the winding gear. Source: Twitter

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The other end of the line, Birmingham Curzon Street 1839. Source: Twitter

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Birmingham Curzon Street today, waiting for a revival as part of the proposed new HS2 terminus. Source: Twitter

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Entrance to the old locomotive sheds at Camden, late 1830s. This would later be replaced by the famous Roundhouse. Source: Twitter

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The Great Hall opened 28 May 1849. This is how it was intended to look. Source: Twitter

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Plan of the station 1888. Source: Twitter

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The famous arch – described as the ‘First great monument of the railway age.’ Source: Twitter

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Kangaroo escapes at Euston station, 1903. Source: Twitter

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Tobacco seller 1908. Source: Twitter

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The refreshments trolley at Euston 1908. Source: Twitter

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LNWR Scotch Express leaves Euston station circa 1909. Source: Twitter

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The station 1909. Source: Twitter

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Nearing Euston station. Spencer Gore 1911. Source: Twitter

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The Great Hall in 1914. Note the large wall spaces where huge paintings should have been applied. (see earlier picture from 1849.) Source: Twitter

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Soldiers’ free  Christmas meal in one of the station’s buffets 1917. Source: Twitter

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Rugs and pillows c1925. Five shillings each! Source: Twitter

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Euston station at Christmas 1936. Source. Twitter

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LMS 6220 Coronation on the Coronation Scot 1938. Source: Twitter

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Fooling around at Euston 1939. Source: Twitter

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Euston station wartime. Women saying farewell to their soldiers. Source: Twitter

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Couples say goodbye 1944 as soldiers leave for service. Source: Twitter

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Euston station, probably a few years short of nationalisation. Source: Twitter

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Loading the Travelling Post Office by Grace Golden 1948. Source: Twitter

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Euston station, Great Hall, 1950. Source: Twitter

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Another image of the lamented Great Hall by Christian Barman 1950. Source: Twitter

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Liverpool supporters in Eversholt Street, Euston, en route to Wembley 1950. Source: Twitter

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Jubilee class 45709 at Euston 1956. Source: Twitter (Note: The Twitter account has been deleted or suspended thus an archived image is used.)

Continued in Part two covering the period from when the original station was demolished.

3 thought on “Euston Station Anniversary Special”
  1. It’s fascinating to see how different the forecourt to Euston was in 1936, with whole streets of houses and even a crescent, and a building you could drive under, near the War memorial. Looking at a repro A-Z from 1938/9, the crescent seems to have gone, and possibly the other buildings. (Although map lacks detail and accuracy I suppose.)

    1. Yes its a fantastic aerial picture of the station environs in 1936. British Railways’ new London Midland region HQ was built on the site of the crescent which had been bombed in WW2.

  2. Camden Bank had four tracks in the expectation the second pair would be used by the Great Western Railway.

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