London railway terminus built between 1873 and 1875 for the Great Eastern Railway by chief engineer Edward Wilson. Extended between 1890 and 1894 and remodelled between 1985 and 1992 by the British Rail Architects’ Department under project lead Nick Derbyshire.
Reasons for Designation
Liverpool Street Station, City of London, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* for the architectural and engineering importance of the western trainshed of 1873-1875 by Edward Wilson for the Great Eastern Railway. The transept and nave arrangement of the structure, together with the Gothic detailing to the brickwork bays and the sophisticated structural ironwork by Fairburn Engineering Company, create a cathedral-like trainshed for a major railway terminus;
* for the quality of the trainshed extension of 1985-1992, which carefully follows the detailing, form and proportions of the 1870s Wilson structure to integrate a second transept that enhances the spatial quality and cohesiveness of the remodelled station’s unified concourse.
* as an important building in the development of railway architecture in the mid-Victorian era, Wilson’s design for the western trainshed, part of the last of the mainline termini in London, is a sophisticated, innovative and structurally ambitious exemplar of station design prior to increased standardisation seen from the 1880s;
* for the 1985-92 remodelling by the British Rail Architects’ Department, which was a major historicist infrastructure project of the period, standing in stark contrast to the preceding Modernist schemes for the site.
* with the former Great Eastern Hotel, which was developed in relation to the station and is connected on its north and west sides;
* with the First World War memorials erected by the London Society of East Anglians and the Great Eastern Railway Company, which form part of the station complex.
The site on which Liverpool Street Station was built originally formed part of the Priory of St Mary of Bethlehem. It was positioned just outside the medieval city walls of London and an entrance to the city, Bishopsgate, stood to the south of the site of the Great Eastern Hotel. By the late C14, the priory was particularly associated with the treatment of mental illness, which continued when the hospital relocated to Moorfields in 1676. Subsequent development of the area included suburban housing, followed by industrial use and subdivision of the individual plots by lanes and alleys. Liverpool Street, named after the Prime Minister Lord Liverpool, was formed in 1829. The surrounding area had become slum housing by the mid-C19 and during the 1860s and 1870s the site was cleared to make way for two railway termini; first Broad Street for the North London Railway Company and then Liverpool Street for the Great Eastern Railway Company to the east.
Plans for what would become Liverpool Street Station were developed from the 1860s as a proposed replacement for a terminus in Shoreditch, built for the Eastern Counties and Northern and Eastern railways in 1840. These companies amalgamated in 1862 with three other smaller railway companies to become the ambitious Great Eastern Railway (GER). Having inherited poor mainline services from the Eastern Counties Railway, the GER looked to expand its services to settlements such as Enfield and Loughton, then just beginning to increase in population, for which it determined to build an accessible terminus for commuters to the City. It chose a site next to that of Broad Street Station, which the North London Railway (NLR) had recently secured approval for (completed 1865). While the NLR built their station quickly and successfully, the GER at Liverpool Street endured a ten-year delay as it sought to raise capital and secure land. An initial Act of Parliament of 1864 was for a line on a viaduct, like Broad Street, and included new suburban lines to Edmonton and Walthamstow. The East Anglian firm Lucas Brothers were contracted as builders, but as preparations were underway the GER faced financial crisis, caused by high land acquisition costs and difficulty securing investment. Only in 1867 did it secure a renewed Act to raise £3 million in debenture stock to fund the work. The final Act of 1870 had the line lowered so that it could connect with the planned Metropolitan Line extension from Moorgate. However, the incline into the station created problems for the steam engines and despite this connection being a fundamental and costly principle of the station’s configuration, it was seldom used and service ceased in 1904. After these long delays in the planning, the station was constructed quickly. Work began late in 1873 and the first platforms opened in February 1874, initially served by temporary facilities. The new GER station buildings were officially opened in November 1875.
The design of the station was overseen by the GER chief engineer, Edward Wilson (1820-1877). Liverpool Street was the largest work for which he was responsible, having served as an engineer for the Midland Great Western Railway of Ireland early in his career and then as chief engineer for the West Midland Railway, prior to his appointment by the GER in 1866. Wilson’s Liverpool Street Station consisted of two main components; the GER office range with station accommodation (all since demolished) to the south of the site and a trainshed behind this, covering platforms 1 to 10. The offices were designed in an eclectic Gothic Revival style, consisting of a varied range set-back from Liverpool Street with French and Venetian Gothic detailing, producing what The Engineer remarked to be ‘an agreeably diversified skyline’ (‘The Opening of Liverpool Street’, 11 June 1875). The range ran along the western side of the station, around 320ft in length, facing the station approach road with a short return façade integrating a tower. The original trainshed extended back to the north and east of this. In the open space formed by the angle of the buildings there were four roadways for pedestrians and vehicles, these leading to the separate suburban booking office at the northern end of the range. As important as Wilson’s contribution to the station’s final appearance, was the work of the Fairbairn Engineering Company of Manchester (in what was their last major contract before insolvency), which supplied the decorative ironwork and structural elements of the roof.
The 1875 layout of the station was a novel one, amalgamating the two principal London termini arrangements seen up to this point. Early examples, including Kings Cross, were designed with a booking office along the side of the station to allow departing passengers to proceed straight from buying tickets to boarding their train. On the opposing side, cab ranks were positioned alongside the arrival platforms to collect passengers leaving the station. Where a more frequent suburban service of shorter trains was operated, such as at Charing Cross, it was more convenient to have the booking office at the head of the platforms, with no strict division between the arrival and departure sides. Liverpool Street was designed to handle both the mainline service and an intensive suburban service and was consequently laid out to suit the needs of both kinds, with suburban platforms of 550ft (presently 1-8), fronted by a concourse, as at Charing Cross, and mainline platforms of 1000ft (presently in the place of 9-10), stretching right up to Liverpool Street and bounded on their west side by the booking office and various classes of waiting rooms. On the east side of these mainline platforms was the cab exit road, an arrangement closely resembling that of Kings Cross as originally configured.
From the 1870s, the demand for the suburban services running from Liverpool Street increased significantly. As a condition of the 1864 sanction to build Liverpool Street, the GER ran discounted workmen’s trains on its lines to Edmonton and Walthamstow line, compensating for the displacement caused by the construction of these new lines. The Company’s suburban service was further expanded following the Cheap Trains Act of 1883, with 8,000 people a day travelling on workmen’s trains on GER lines in 1884 rising to 19,000 by 1900. The growth of this service forced the Board to consider extending the station. Sanction to do so was obtained in 1888 and purchase of the required land to the east was made in 1889, resulting in the clearance in 1890 of the acquired Bishopsgate buildings (notably including the removal of Sir Paul Pindar’s House of around 1599, which was presented to the South Kensington Museum, now the V&A, where the façade remains on display). The additions of 1890-94 gave the station a total of 18 platforms. The extension consisted of an eastern trainshed, covering platforms 11 to 18, along with a parcel office (which was set over the platform at its northern end) and various shops and offices associated with the entrance on Bishopsgate. The eastern buildings were designed by W N Ashbee, head of the GER Architectural Department 1883-1916, working with John Wilson, the nephew of Edward Wilson, who was the chief engineer of Great Eastern Railway 1883-1910. The eastern buildings (all since demolished) were of contrasting red brick with stone detailing; the main office building, Harwich House, with a striking Flemish gable-fronted façade to Bishopsgate flanked by screen walls with over-scaled Baroque cartouches. The layout of the platforms set behind was covered with a single concourse leading to staircases up to the booking office and the exits to Bishopsgate. The shed was lower and more compact than the original to the west, the roof consisting of four spans running longitudinally over the platforms with closely-spaced columns and more robust ironwork, all supplied by Andrew Handyside and Company.
The most significant changes to the station into the middle of the C20 were brought about by the Second World War. As a precaution at the outset of the war, the ridge-and-furrow roof glazing was completely removed. Bomb damage was inflicted in 1941, damaging the westernmost aisle of the trainshed and the spire of the station tower, which was subsequently truncated and never rebuilt. Following the war, the roof covering of the station’s trainsheds was completely replaced with patent glazing and all the slating to the boarded areas was removed and replaced and new steel trusses, substituted for those damaged in the bombing. The original acanthus detailing around the column capitals of the western trainshed was removed in 1956 because of deterioration, as lamented by John Betjeman and architectural heritage campaigners and ultimately reinstated as part of the later station remodelling. There was also some reconfiguration of the original access to the hotel from the footbridge over the mainline platforms, which was removed by the 1950s, leaving the station entrances to the hotel at this level redundant.
Into the 1960s, the boom in office work led British Rail to explore redeveloping its London termini, to re-plan its stations for the growing number of commuters and take advantage of growing land values in central London. Liverpool Street and Broad Street were obvious London termini for redevelopment in this context. Fuelled by rapid population growth in Essex and the outer London suburbs, Liverpool Street had become increasingly congested into the 1970s, whereas Broad Street was underused, served by the North London Line to Richmond and often running only three trains per hour. In 1974, British Rail proposed creating a single terminus to be funded by office development on part of the reordered site. A permit for office development from the Government was granted in 1974, dependent on refurbishment of the Great Eastern Hotel. Proposals were exhibited in June 1975, prepared by Fitzroy Robinson and Partners, covering a 25-acre site. This involved replacing the two stations with a single new terminus on the Liverpool Street site while retaining part of the Great Eastern Hotel as one element of a redeveloped complex. The rest of the site would be filled with offices arranged as a series of stacked hexagonal sections, fronting on to Liverpool Street and rising on the site of Broad Street up to a height of around 195ft.
There was resistance to the proposals from the point of their announcement by British Rail, with the Liverpool Street Station Campaign (abridged to LISSCA) formed in September 1974, chaired by John Betjeman and backed by The Victorian Society and its allies. They proposed an alternative scheme which accepted the loss of most of the 1890s extension in order to lengthen the platforms, but retained the hotel, western trainshed and the façade of Broad Street. Prompted by the proposals in August 1975, the Liverpool Street offices and the western trainshed were listed at Grade II and, in late September, the proposals were called-in for a public inquiry by the Department for the Environment. Following representations from the GLC, Victorian Society and LISSCA, which made the case for retention of much of the site, approval in March 1979 was granted for a revised scheme. This retained both the hotel and the western trainshed, while granting permission for a million square feet of offices and 30,000 square feet of shops as part of the complex. As a consequence of this decision, the GER offices that were listed only four years earlier were granted demolition to allow platforms 1-8 to be extended and provide a unified concourse.
The 1980s saw new iterations of the scheme to retain the hotel and western trainshed put forward, initially with scaled-back plans by Fitzroy Robinson before settling on an in-house British Rail Architects’ Department plan for a historicist remodelling of the station. The selected concept was developed by Nick Derbyshire (1944-2016), who was involved as a regional architect from about 1978 and became British Rail’s last chief architect in 1991. This plan involved taking the form of the 1870s transept of the western trainshed to form a new concourse, broadly replicating in structural steel the visual form of the roof and wall to Sun Street Passage to continue the structure to the south and connect with the hotel to the east. The GER office range was slated for demolition along with the eastern 1890s station structures, leaving the western trainshed with little buttressing to provide lateral stability. To resolve this and to announce the station from the street, new neo-Victorian entrance towers were designed for Bishopsgate and Liverpool Street (excluded from this listing). Derbyshire produced a series of schemes with different entrances, initially with canopies, before it was decided to rebuild the end building of the 1870s Gothic range (50 Liverpool Street; not included in this listing) to a modified design in order to facilitate the construction beneath of a larger Underground ticket hall and a new bank of escalators to the Central Line.
Within the retained western trainshed, the original acanthus details to the capitals were reinstated and the roof was refurbished. To the ‘country’ end of the trainshed the dagger fretwork was restored in conjunction with the separate development of Exchange Square to this side. The two war memorials from the old station (separately listed, National Heritage List for England (NHLE) entries1483817 and 1483820) and some other historic features were incorporated in the new tower designs. A series of panels featuring a locomotive, an ocean liner, and a lunette with a cherub stoking an engine (forming part of Ashbee’s demolished Bishopsgate façade) were relocated to the northern elevation of the hotel through a grant from the Heritage of London Trust (separately covered under NHLE entry 1252272). While the envelope of the remodelled station was historicist in style, for the shops and kiosks within the shell Derbyshire adopted a High-Tech approach (all excluded from this listing), following the form of his work with John Dobson at Newcastle upon Tyne station for a new travel centre within the Grade I-listed structure (NHLE entry 1355291).
Connected with the Liverpool Street redevelopment, a new proposal for what became Broadgate was proposed by British Rail with Rosehaugh Stanhope Developments, on the site of Broad Street Station to designs of Peter Foggo of Arup Associates. Permission for demolition of Broad Street station was granted in July 1985, despite objections from SAVE and other heritage campaigners. To the east, on the Bishopsgate side of the site, Rosehaugh Stanhope Developments appointed the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to carry out a development oversailing the eastern platforms (as part of Broadgate phases 6-7). The scheme integrated a square between the south end of the high-rise blocks and the north side of the hotel, and supported Derbyshire’s scheme for a set-back entrance. Work continued through until 1992 on Broadgate and Liverpool Street, though the rebuilt station was officially opened on 5 December 1991 by Queen Elizabeth II.
Throughout its history, Liverpool Street has been one of the busiest stations in London, operating as the principal terminus serving the outer eastern London suburbs and the main lines to Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex. It has been the main London station for excursion trains to the seaside, with many generations of Londoners having embarked on their holidays from Liverpool Street, while also being the terminus for commuters into London from the eastern counties. The station was, as The Times noted, the ‘gateway to East Anglia’, which is reflected in the original placement on the station façade of the London Society of East Anglians’ First World War memorial (The Times, 14 April 1920, p11). Into the late 1930s, the station was the point of arrival for refugees from the continent fleeing Nazi persecution, who arrived at Liverpool Street via trains from the port of Harwich. The station is particularly associated with the kindertransport evacuations of approximately 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children to Britain, as memorialised by the sculpture by Frank Meisler unveiled in 2006 in the rededicated ‘Hope Square’ to the south of the station. Into the 2020s, the station continues to be one of the busiest in London, with over 135 million station users estimated annually, prompting redevelopment plans to increase capacity in the years ahead (Rail Business Daily, ‘Over £1.5 billion transformation of Liverpool Street Station to deliver a new world-class transport interchange’, 10 October 2022).
London railway terminus built between 1873 and 1875 for the Great Eastern Railway by their chief engineer Edward Wilson. Extended between 1890 and 1894. Overhauled and significantly remodelled between 1985 and 1992 by the British Rail Architects’ Department led by Nick Derbyshire in connection with the contemporary Broadgate development.
MATERIALS: the 1870s western trainshed is principally of Suffolk stock brick with Bath stone dressings, with the roof constructed from a combination of wrought and cast-iron columns and trusses. The only remaining portion of the 1890s trainshed is the section of wall in red brick with Bath stone dressings that is retained on the eastern face of the 1870s trainshed. The later work of the 1985-1992 remodelling was constructed mostly with steel, faced in stock brick to match the original work.
PLAN: Liverpool Street Station can be broadly divided into three elements. To the north-west of the site is the original trainshed of 1873-1875. This covers the northern part of platforms 1-10 and comprises two central longitudinal bays flanked by narrow aisles. The second part of the station is the 1985-1992 extension of the Wilson trainshed, which covers the southern parts of the platforms and the concourse, with distinct entrances to Liverpool Street (south)* and Bishopsgate (east)*. The third part, which is not included in this listing, comprises platforms 11 onwards, which is set beneath the office block (Broadgate phases 6-7) to Bishopsgate and also dates from 1985-1992. In addition to the street entrances, the station can also be accessed at lower concourse level directly from the Underground station (not included in this listing) from the south end and the west, and via the shopping arcade (also not included in this listing) that opens to the south entrance to Broadgate Square.
EXTERIOR: the principal entrances to the station on Liverpool Street and Bishopsgate are both designed in a neo-Victorian manner with flanking towers, newly-built as part of the 1985-1992 scheme. These entrance frontages* do not contribute to the special architectural and historic interest of the station and are excluded from this listing.
The western screen wall to Sun Street Passage consists of repeated gabled bays of stock brick, each with triplets of lancet windows that are marked-out with red brick surrounds to their upper sections. Two heightened and broadened bays punctuate the elevation, these with five upper lancets, which correspond with the longitudinal transepts of the trainshed. From the northern transept to the end of the range this wall dates from the 1870s, and all to the south of this belongs to the 1985-1992 remodelling. The windows and entrances to this range are all the product of the remodelling.
To the north, the end of the 1870s western trainshed can be seen from Exchange Square. There is simple dagger fretwork to the central naves and side aisles, recreated to match the original 1870s form (undertaken in conjunction with the later Broadgate work of 1987-1989).
INTERIOR: the 1870s trainshed roof consists of two broad twin naves rising to 76ft, with two narrow outer aisles. The naves are separated by a double row of columns, each with an ornate acanthus capital, replicating the original capitals which were removed in 1956. The outer aisles are composed of a series of vaulted bays, set square to the central naves. The original portion of the roof covers the northern part of platforms 1-10, terminating at the north transept which originally marked the end of the shorter suburban line platforms. The roof has a cantilevered spandrel-bracket form, with light suspended trusses. The central trusses to the nave have a relatively shallow arch for their width. There is decorative work to the cast-iron pierced spandrels, the form of which is continued throughout the later work of 1985-1992. The distinction between the two parts of the roof is made clear by the condition of the glazing, though in their respective form there is little to visibly distinguish the two phases, save for the four radial braces on the north-south arches to the later structure and the slightly heavier detailing of the steel arch spandrels. The walls to east and west ends of the trainshed are, from the platform end back to the northern transept, from the 1870s; these with three Gothic arches, heightened with upper lancets to the transept on both sides. The south-western continuation of the trainshed built from the 1980s covers the area formerly occupied by Wilson’s GER offices and the station approach. It does not replicate the historic extent of the station trainshed, though the eastern extension broadly recreates the longer portion covering the mainline platforms, albeit with the modern transept integrated as part of the southern bays. This ends at the north elevation of the hotel, the form of which was composed to correspond with Wilson’s original roof structure (see NHLE entry 1252272). The southern transept was introduced as part of the remodelling to cover the new unified concourse, this being designed to replicate (with some modification of proportions) the form of the original northern transept. The eastern protrusion of this transept connects with the contemporary Bishopsgate entrance. This stands broadly on the site of the eastern 1890s cab ramps, though continues the form of the 1875 roof. The only visible remnant of the eastern station extension of 1890-1894 is an upper section of what was the western wall of the later trainshed, visible from the loading bay to the eastern Broadgate offices. This is built with contrasting red brick and rounded and keyed arches with blank recessed panels set beneath. To every third arch there is a stone console bracket, from which the trusses of the eastern trainshed would have been supported.
The design and layout of the station concourse is a product of the 1985-1992 remodelling. This is divided across two levels. The upper concourse is set at street level, with a larger platform-level concourse accessed from escalators* and stairs* from the Bishopsgate and Liverpool Street entrances. The raised concourse forms a gallery*, with a walkway lined with retail units* along the ends of the platforms, this also serving to link the Bishopsgate entrance to the western bus station along Sun Street Passage. The new structures* to the concourse are in a High-Tech idiom, of glass and steel finished in white. On the south side of the lower concourse are a range of retail units and cafés, which form part of the footprint of the former Great Eastern Hotel.
There are two First World War memorials, the Great Eastern Railway memorial and another erected by the London Society of East Anglians, which are respectively positioned on the east and north elevations of the hotel at upper concourse level (separately detailed under NHLE entries 1483817 and 1483820).
* Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), it is declared that the frontages of the principal entrances to Liverpool Street and Bishopsgate, along with the retail structures, fixtures, signage, toilets, stairs, escalators, raised walkways, and inserted offices within the upper and lower station concourse are not of special architectural or historic interest. However, any works which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require LBC and this is a matter for the LPA to determine.