Liverpool Street Station, London. Designed by Edward Wilson, Chief Engineer of the Great Eastern Railway. 1874. Photograph 2009 and caption by George P. Landow; commentary below by Stuart Durant. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL.]

Commentary by Stuart Durant

The first London terminus of the Great Eastern Railway was at Shoreditch. Liverpool Street was created in order to bring the railway closer into the City. A substantial part of the station’s traffic consisted of working-class commuters who came from London’s northern suburbs. In addition, Liverpool Street served East Anglia — and Harwich which was growing steadily in importance as a port. The site had been once occupied by Bethlem Hospital, where people once paid to enjoy gawping at and teasing the insane. Liverpool Street takes its name after Lord Liverpool (1770-1828), the longest serving British Prime Minister. The cost of the site was considered to have been excessive at the time. And there are still the steep gradients — always to be avoided in railway construction — leading up to the station. Liverpool Street perhaps lacked the architectural charisma of the old Euston, St Pancras, or Brunel’s Paddington. For all that, its ironwork, with its filigree cast iron brackets and sturdy capitals — now painted in very congenial colours — is a delight. The 1994 metamorphosis of the station by Nick Derbyshire and his team — which involved the replicating of Victorian wrought and cast iron — has given new energy to the once dowdy station. Circulation in the station which was once notoriously difficult to navigate has also been vastly improved. The present Liverpool Street station affirms the value of refurbishing a perfectly serviceable nineteenth structure. The Great Eastern Hotel, by Charles Barry, junior (1823-1900), the son of the architect of the Houses of Parliament, has been transformed into a boutique hotel by Conran & Partners.

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Last modified 4 April 2010