During my wanders around London in April 2013, I visited a variety of London’s stations. For me, London’s stations are far more interesting than the trains. Where the trains tend to be fleets of modern multiple-units, the stations range from Victorian gems to austere examples of Lego-block architecture.
My favorite station is St Pancras. This is a classic railway cathedral. A few years ago it was transformed in to a modern multimodal center. Today, it serves as an international station as well as both a long distance and commuter railway station. It features a shopping mall and luxury hotel. Most impressive is the original architecture, including the pioneer example of a balloon-style arched train-shed, which has been successful integrated into a modern facility.
Kings Cross is adjacent to St Pancras. This has also been recently transformed, and blends historic and contemporary architecture. Interestingly, Kings Cross may be most famous for its mention in the Harry Potter stories. Today, there’s both a Harry Potter shop and a light-hearted platform 9 ¾ for visitors.
On this trip, I passed through London Bridge station and was shocked to see that the old train shed has been demolished! All I saw was a few vestiges of the old iron columns. Fifteen years ago, I made some memorable images inside the shed, and now that it’s gone, I’ll need to dredge these photos from the archives. Another change at London Bridge was nearby construction of a monumental skyscraper, colloquially known as ‘The Shard’.
Clapham Junction is famous as Britain’s busiest station. Still images cannot convey the power of place. Watching trains at Clapham Junction is akin to watching the tide flow in. At rush hours an unceasing parade of trains passes Clapham Junction, with trains flowing in waves. Most impressive is standing at the north end of the station when as many as six trains approach simultaneously.
I first visited London more than 15 years ago and since that time, I’ve revisited this dynamic city dozens of times. The impetus for last week’s visit was the opportunity to give an illustrated talk to the London-area Irish Railway Record Society. I made this image of St Pancras on my way to the talk, which was hosted at the Exmouth Arms near London’s Euston Station.
This magnificent structure is one of several important railway terminals along Euston Road. The massive ornate building was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and historically served as both the St. Pancras head house and the Midland Grand Hotel. It remains one of London’s finest railway buildings. Beyond the head house is St Pancras’ immense balloon-style iron and glass train shed—the pioneer work of this type.
During my visit to London, I had the opportunity to explore the transport network. I found a variety of changes since my last trip to London, nearly two years ago. As one of the world’s great cities, London is undergoing a continual transformation. While elements of its past are incorporated in its new urban fabric, in each and every visit I find some things new and note some things forever lost. If nothing else, this keeps my cameras busy.
During this trip, I exposed more than 1000 digital images, and nearly 3 rolls of slide film. I plan to explore this material over the next few posts. Stay tuned!