Trainshed with Corinthinian Columns, Railway Station, York. 1876. William Peachy and Thomas Prosser. Photograph 2006 by Jaqueline Banerjee. [This image may be freely used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose.]

The design on the triangular spandrels incorporates the liveries of the three companies it originally served: The North Midland Railway (1839), the York & North Midland Railway (1840) and North Eastern Railways (1842). According to Carol Meeks's pioneering study of the railroald station as an architectural form,

York became famous for its railroad stations; each successive one was celebrated in its period. The first was opened in 1841. Unusual pains were taken because it was the pride of George Hudson, the "railroad king," whose home town it was. G. T. Andrews, the architect, had a complicated situation to solve since it was a joint station shared by several companies. Some through lines curved by at one side, others came directly in as spurs. The wings which enclosed the four central spurs were built first and a hotel was added across the end shortly after, thus making one of the first "U" plans. Across the ends of the spurs and parallel with the rear of the hotel was a wide cross-platform, permitting passengers and company personnel to move freely among the four lines without having to cross tracks. The building was accessible on the exterior from three sides.

In the 1870's two experienced station architects, William Peachy and Thomas Prosser, were at work on York's third and present refined Station, using curving lines which required concentrically curved sheds. A refined version of the Newcastle naves was employed. The total diameter was considerably greater but only the central span was wider than those at Newcastle. The width to height ratio is 8:5. Extra height gives added dignity to buildings, if not always to man. The sheds at York are unusually handsome. The five-centered ribs are carefully scaled and the tie rods barely noticeable. These sheds were built at a time when single-span sheds were widely used on the plausible pretext that they permitted greater flexibility. The multiple-span shed at York proved that that type, too, was capable of producing great beauty. It is more beautiful than either of the older ones at Newcastle and Paddington. We should be grateful that these three exist to delight us by their intricate luminous spaces. It is regrettable that so few of them were built.

The expansion of the station to thirteen tracks by Peachy and Prosser in 1877 made it the biggest station in the world. [GPL and JB].

Related Material

References

Crook, J. Mordaunt. The Dilemma of Style: Architectural Ideas from the Picturesque to the Post-Modern. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Meeks, Carol L. V. The Victorian Railroad Station: An Architectural History. New Haven: Yale UP, 1956.

Website of the National Railway Museum, York.


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Last modified 21 July 2006