The head-type station plan, in which all passengers entered and left through the head-building across the end of the lines, proved to be the most long- lived scheme for terminals. Numerically important even in the experimental period, they were of continuing significance. A single building was erected across the ends of the tracks with platforms lying between the tracks and perpendicular to the building. This was the plan of the Brighton Station by David Mocatta, 1840-41. At York in 1840-41 a "U" or "stirrup" plan was employed with wings extending back from the head building to surround the end of the spur tracks on three sides. Other variations occurred, even in large stations: "L's," for example, and a "T" plan at Stuttgart in 1863-68, where the returned wing lies between two sets of spur tracks.

Two British stations . . . made the shed the dominant feature. The first was the Liverpool Central Station built by the engineer John Fowler in 1874, and the second was the Manchester Joint Central Station, begun two years later. Both sheds were arched, and without visible ties. They are striking examples of refined technology. The profiles are reversed catenaries in shape, exceedingly subtle and worthy of their prominent role on the exterior. The high sheds reduce the wings and marquees to inconsequence, thereby reminding us of the earlier Fenchurch Street Station in London and of the numerous American arched train-barns. Coming so long after the Crystal Palace, they can hardly be considered an example of its influence, though they represent the lesson which might have been learned from it. — Carol Meeks, pp, 33, 86.

Mixing Iron and Stone

Stations in Former British Colonies

For Comparison: European Railway Stations

Related Material


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.

Minnis, John. Britain’s Lost Railways: The Twentieth-Century Destruction of Our Finest Railway Architecture. London: Aurum Press, 2014.

Last modified April 17, 2019