Euston Station opened on 20 July 1837. It was the first railway terminal in a capital city anywhere in the world – and it was beautiful, too boot.
As the first train steamed into Euston 177 years ago today, on 20 July 1837, Victorians travelling between Birmingham and London would have heaved a sigh of relief. Until then that journey took arduous 12-hour coach ride; the new railway connection cut the time by almost half – commuters don’t know how easy they have it these days.
Just like the early days of commercial air travel, there was a sense of occasion to travelling by train. Carriages entered Euston through a 70ft high ceremonial Greek arch with immense pillars and four bronze doors – a spectacular Italianate hall was added in 1849…..and to big up the experience, Euston built the first railway hotel in the country in 1939 for the comfort of its customers.
(There’s actually a campaign to rebuild the Arch at www.eustonarch.org. I think it would make a great ‘re-addition’ to London.)
It wasn’t just the station that was a feat of engineering. Early steam trains didn’t have the puff to make it up the hill between Euston and Camden. The solution? Build a ‘stationary engine winding house’ to pull carriages, full of passengers, up an endless rope and then hitch them to engines for the onward journey.
Here are some more Euston station facts
- When it opened, Euston had only two platforms: one each for departures and arrivals
- Arriving passengers could step off the train and directly into carriages waiting for them.
- British Rail destroyed the Arch in 1962. (Sigh.)
- More than one million people use Euston station every week
- And on 1 November 2011 Adam King of ‘King and Allen’ Bespoke Tailoring asked Lucy Rogers to marry him on the 19:57 overground train from Euston to Watford Junction.