The history of London’s grand railway stations

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Anyone coming to London will no doubt be paying a visit to the myriad of railway stations which populate the city.

Being a capital city, London needs to be well connected and the sheer volume of transport hubs make it a breeze for residents and tourists navigate their way around. One of the best aspects of railway stations across London, and by further extension the rest of the UK, is that they still boast that charm from years gone by.

Obviously there has been considerable modernisation within the stations, but the outdoor frontage harks back to a bygone era. A lot of stations have retained their Victorian decor, making them magnificent sights for anyone making their first trip into London. While keeping that classic look , the stations have all the modern amenities needed to make a journey as smooth as possible.

From the bustling hub of King’s Cross, complete the fabled Platform 9¾ from the Harry Potter film series, to glorious hanger that is St Pancras to Victoria’s constantly busy epicentre for commuters, London has some of the most glorious railway stations. Aspects such as this define London from other major European cities and celebrates a heritage that was founded in merry old England.

So let’s take a look at the history of these impressive stations and how they have evolved over the years and how you can get from them to your Park Lane hotel.

King’s Cross

kings-cross Clock Tower

Anyone coming from the north of England will no doubt have passed through King’s Cross on their travels. The busiest railway station in the British Isles is the backbone rail transportation across the nation. It is the main terminus of the East Coast Main Line which connects London with Yorkshire, the north-east of England and Scotland.

Situated in the London Borough of Camden, King’s Cross forms a triangle of stations with the nearby Euston and St Pancras. It has been the hub for London transport ever since it was first built in 1852. Back then it formed the southern base of the Great Northern Railway and was the end destination for famous steam locomotives such as The Flying Scotsman and Mallard.

The East Coast Main Line provides passengers with a non-stop service between London and Edinburgh. It had eight platforms right up to 2010 when a new platform was opened. In the past few years, King’s Cross has been transformed thanks to a £500 million investment by Network Rail.

It now retains its original Victorian facade but with a hugely modern and sprawling inside complete with all the very latest shops.

Directions to Montcalm Marble Arch Hotel: From King’s Cross St Pancras Underground station jump on the Victoria heading towards Brixton. Change at Oxford Circus and get on the Central Line heading to West Ruislip, alighting at Marble Arch near to where the hotel is located.

St Pancras

A short walk from King’s Cross is St Pancras railway station. This is London’s gateway to the rest of Europe due to the Eurostar service. Regular trains run from here to Paris’ Gare du Nord and Brussels Midi/Zuid in Belgium, making trips to the continent easy and efficient from the heart of London.

It is one of the truly magnificent railway stations, even by London’s standards. It is a prime example of the city’s proud Victorian architecture and has stood between King’s Cross and the British Library since it was opened by the Midland Railway in 1868. It was originally used to form the southern terminus of the company’s main line connecting London with the East Midlands and Yorkshire.

grand railway stations

St Pancras retains this purpose today but it has evolved so much more over the years thanks to the launch of the Eurostar. The cross-border train service, which utilises the Channel Tunnel for journeys, was originally based at Waterloo International station but was moved to St Pancras in November 2007.

One of the most unique things about St Pancras is its commitment to public art. Among the striking sculptures is The Meeting Place. This nine-metre high bronze statue, designed by British artist Paul Day, aims to evoke the romance of travel and shows a couple locked in an embrace. Other installations include a statue of former Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman.

Directions to Montcalm Marble Arch Hotel: Since St Pancras shares an Underground station with King’s Cross, the directions above are applicable.

Victoria

victoria-station in London

Situated in the heart of London, Victoria is the second-busiest terminus in London, and the UK, behind Waterloo. Last year, over 81 million passed through this station whether catching a Tube, train to other part of the south-east or even jumping on the express service to Gatwick Airport. It will no doubt be a port of call on your travels.

Opened by Victoria Station and Pimlico Railway in 1860, the terminus was swiftly leased to London Brighton and South Coast Railway. Two years later, expansion was needed and a separate station was opened for London, Chatham and Dover and Great Western Railways.

Nowadays, it is one of the key linking destinations for commuters and tourists alike, making their way around the capital. As it combines both an Underground station and regional rail services, it is easy to why it is one of the busiest stations in London.

Like many other stations in London, Victoria has retained its old features including a magnificent entrance facade. In the style of both King’s Cross and St Pancras, Victorian inspiration is very much at the heart of its design.

Directions to Montcalm Marble Arch Hotel: From Victoria Station, catch the number 16 bus heading towards Longley Way from Stop H outside the station. After seven stops get off at Marble Arch Edgware Road and simply walk across to the hotel.

Paddington

Paddington Station

Perhaps better overshadowed by a marmalade-eating bear of the same name, Paddington station is another key transport hub in London. Like the aforementioned stations, Paddington provides both Underground, regional and national train services. It is key link for passengers heading to Wales, the West Country and south-west of England as well as being home to the Heathrow Express and Connect line to the airport.

It has been the London terminus of the Great Western Railway since 1838 but came to the fore in 1854 following the designs of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. While not boasting the passenger numbers of the likes of Victoria, Waterloo or King’s Cross, a huge 35 million people passed through Paddington in the past year alone.

The look of Paddington is much different from the other stations that dominate the transport network in London. While others have huge Victorian facades, Paddington’s entrance is the classic trainshed keeping it’s look very simple and authentic.

A visit to Paddington station, even if you’re just passing through, is not complete without seeing the statue of Paddington Bear.

Directions to Montcalm Marble Arch Hotel: From outside the station, jump on the number 36 heading towards New Cross Bus Garage. Hop off after four stops at Marble Arch Edgware Road and the hotel is only a short walk away.