British Rail Goods Office (Curzon Street Station), Birmingham
Case study: New Canal Street, Birmingham B4 7XG (West Midlands)
List entry number: 1343086
Background and history
This grade I listed building was the terminus of Robert Stephenson's railway line between London Euston and Birmingham. It was built between 1834 and 1838.
Philip Hardwick designed the stations at each end of the line in the neo-classical style. At the London end, the much celebrated, now demolished, Euston Arch opened first in 1837. The Birmingham station opened a year later in 1838. It was extended in 1841 to create a hotel.
By 1846 the location of the station, roughly a mile from the city centre, was seen as a disadvantage. Grand Central Station (which later became Birmingham New Street) was constructed as a more convenient replacement. The hotel at Curzon Street Station closed in 1854 and the building was converted into a goods depot.
It finally closed in 1966. The extension and all of the former railway platforms and canopies were demolished in the 1970s. Only the original terminus building was saved.
Birmingham City Council carried out repairs between 1979 and 1982 and the station building was then used for offices. Since 1985 it has lacked a permanent use, it is currently empty. This fine neo-classical building now stands alone in an area cleared for redevelopment and proposed for Birmingham's High Speed 2 (HS2) station.
Is it at risk?
Curzon Street Station was added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2006. The principal concern is the condition of the roof. Despite repairs some five years ago, this is still letting water into the building in places. The stonework to the elevations is eroded and there is spalling where metal cramps have rusted and split the stone. Signs of structural movement are also visible.
Vandalism is a risk because the building is isolated and un-used. Many of the windows have been broken and are now boarded up.
What's the current situation?
The City Council's Birmingham Curzon HS2 master plan sets out proposals for the regeneration of the area. No use has been identified for Curzon Street Station. HS2 is a major construction project not due for completion until 2026. The listed building could therefore be left un-used, concealed, isolated and decaying in the middle of a building site.
Historic England is promoting interim use of the building by HS2. It would make excellent temporary offices and exhibition space. Such a use would achieve the repair of the building ready for a permanent use on the completion of the new rail line. Discussions with HS2 and the Council on this theme have so far been very positive.