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Transport & Travel

As well as serving as transport hubs and gateways to the cities they serve, some of England's finest railway stations have now become destinations in their own right, places to which travellers come to enjoy magnificent architecture, as well as shops, restaurants and hotels. Others have lent themselves to conversion to offices, shopping malls or, in the case of Tynemouth, a very popular weekend antiques and crafts market. Historic railway architecture is thus helping to make travel more of a pleasure, while local governments and transport administrators have learned that high-quality stations set the tone of a city and play an important role in attracting visitors.

Tynemouth Station after restoration
Tynemouth Station after restoration © Station Developments Ltd

King’s Cross Station

Built in 1851-2 to the designs of Lewis Cubitt, King's Cross station is a true building of the railway age whose façade reflects the original plan of the station, with departure and arrival sheds spanned by huge roofs with iron ribs. When a scheme to develop a new modern concourse was first mooted, we called for a first-class piece of architecture that could stand comparison with Cubitt's spirited design, and add to the station's significance.

The result is the stunning new steel and glass lattice-work roof that covers the new western concourse, and a world-class transport hub that combines daring designs from the present and the past, both of them characterised by functional honesty. The flat-roofed concourse added in the 1970s has now been removed to reveal the original double-barrelled station façade and its tall clock tower.

King's Cross has succeeded in blending sensitive restoration with modern design. This is most apparent in the new Western Concourse where the stunning form of the new diagrid roof embraces the restored Victorian architecture of Lewis Cubitt's Western Range building, and the adjacent Great Northern Hotel. This result was achieved through the excellent collaborative relationship developed through the course of design and construction, between the designers (McAslan and Arup), the client (Network Rail), and English Heritage [now Historic England].

Ian Fry, Project Delivery Director, Network Rail.

KING'S CROSS STATION, CAMDEN, LONDON
DEVELOPER: Network Rail
ARCHITECT: John McAslan + Partners
ENGINEER: Arup Group
LEAD PARTNERS: Vinci Construction, Camden Council

Kings Cross
Restored trainshed viewed from new over-platform bridge © Historic England

St Pancras International

St Pancras International is a highly visible example of the way that heritage-led conservation can be an engine of growth and contribute to economic and transport infrastructure. Restoring William Barlow's magnificent Grade I listed train shed (1865-8), doubling its original length in order to accommodate the 400-metre long Eurostar trains and adding a second new station to cater for local services between London and the Midlands, was a huge undertaking that drew on the skills of many specialists. This involved close liaison between us, Rail Link Engineering and Camden Council, which lasted throughout the 10-year construction period. The results show that radical ideas can be used to enhance significant features and create something new and exciting from the past. In the case of St Pancras, cutting four giant openings in the original train deck, with our support, has enabled the splendid, but hitherto unseen, undercroft of the station to be brought into use as the new arrivals and departures area.

ST PANCRAS INTERNATIONAL, CAMDEN, LONDON
DEVELOPER: London & Continental Railways
ARCHITECT: Foster and Partners
ENGINEER: Rail Link Engineering
LEAD PARTNER: Camden Council

St Pancras restored train shed
St Pancras restored train shed © Derek Kendall

Cambridge station gateway

Rail passengers will see a massive transformation of the area in and around Cambridge station as ambitious plans to create a new gateway to the city take shape. It is a large complex site with a number of buildings of local interest. The developers used pre-application advice from us to refine their scheme and this resulted in the retention and refurbishment of some of these buildings which contributed to the area's distinctiveness and character. We accepted the demolition of others, as their replacement by buildings of high quality design and materials with significant upgrading of public realm will improve the setting of the Grade II listed station and enhance the redeveloped conservation area. With the landmark tower of Foster's Mill providing a focal point, the buildings around the new square in front of the station will mirror the arcading found on the station, whilst providing much needed residential and retail opportunities, along with offices for Microsoft, in a highly sustainable location alongside the new transport hub.

Once the CB1 scheme is complete, Cambridge Station will once again perform its intended role as a fitting gateway to a city noted for its historic architecture, its world-leading university, its renowned research institutions and the thriving high-tech businesses that are increasingly attracted to the city and its hinterland.

Sven Töpel, Chief Executive of Brookgate.

CAMBRIDGE STATION GATEWAY, CAMBRIDGESHIRE
DEVELOPER: Network Rail, Brookgate
MASTER PLANNER: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
ARCHITECTS: T P Bennett (Student Housing), Pollard Thomas Edwards Residential and Mill Conversion), Grimshaw (Commercial), Robert Myers Associates (Landscape)
LEAD PARTNER: Cambridge City Council

Hills Road, Cambridge
New student housing and coffee shop opposite 19th century GII alms houses on Hills Road, Cambridge. © Historic England

Farringdon Station

Crossrail and Thameslink 2000 are two of London's most important current infrastructure  projects, and one of many stations that we have been closely involved with is Farringdon, the original terminus of the world's first underground passenger railway (the Metropolitan Line from Paddington which opened in 1863). New additions will turn the Grade II listed station into one of the busiest and best connected in London. With our guidance, the Victorian industrial train shed will be retained, as will the 1922 entrance building where post-war alterations have been reversed to make the most of the original curved glass shopfronts and delicate Art Nouveau timberwork.

FARRINGDON STATION, ISLINGTON, LONDON
DEVELOPERS: Network Rail and Transport for London

Image showing: New Thameslink Station
New Thameslink Station © Historic England/Steve Cole

Tynemouth station

Another example of the way that historic railway architecture can be an engine of growth is the 1882 Tynemouth station, a Grade II* structure celebrated for its ornate iron and glass canopies. While the central part of the station continues to function as a busy Tyne and Wear Metro station, the outlying platforms are now used as a venue for exhibitions, heritage events, fairs and festivals. The distinctive Victorian canopies shelter a farmers' market on Fridays and an antiques and craft fair every weekend that attract large numbers of visitors to Tynemouth all-year round and provide an important economic boost to the town.

Fundamental to the restoration of the station was the need to preserve the severely corroded columns and roof trusses supporting the glazed canopy. We made a major contribution to the project by providing specialist advice and funding over a number of years. A programme of trial repairs helped to inform the nature and scope of the work needed to clean and repair the structure using traditional ironworking skills. The result was judged to be the best example of 'Craftsmanship Employed on a Heritage Rescue' project in the English Heritage Angel Awards for 2012.

We took great pains to ensure that Tynemouth Station was restored by people who shared our passion to return the station to its original condition, using traditional methods where possible. The work was challenging, largely due to the curve of the station, and the team worked together to strike a balance between faithful restoration to the original design, and delivering a building that could be safely maintained. This has been achieved and it is my hope that future generations will be able to enjoy the benefits of this self-sustaining grand structure.

Morris Muter, Station Developments Ltd.

TYNEMOUTH STATION, NORTH TYNESIDE, TYNE AND WEAR
DEVELOPER: Station Developments Ltd
ARCHITECT: Latham Architects
LEAD PARTNERS: North Tyneside Council, Nexus, Sea Change, the Friends of Tynemouth Station, Tynemouth Village Association

Tynemouth Station
The skilfully restored iron and glass canopies at Tynemouth Station © Historic England
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