In preparation for Associated Architects’ Birmingham’s Hidden Spaces exhibition at Curzon Street Station, we put together a collection of fascinating facts you might not know about the historic venue.
1. Curzon Street Station is the oldest railway terminus in the world and was once a vibrant hub of trade and industry.
2. It was the terminus of the first railway line to link London to Birmingham, which was engineered by Robert Stephenson.
3. The station was originally known as Birmingham Station before New Street was constructed.
4. The surviving station entrance building is Grade I listed, one of only 23 buildings in the city to have this status. It is also on the English Heritage ‘Heritage at Risk’ register.
5. The surrounding and adjoining buildings and platforms have all been demolished. The exterior walls bear the scars of where they would have joined a much larger structure, when the station was in use.
6. Designed by Philip Charles Hardwick in the early 1830s, it was the counterpart to the Euston Arch by the same architect, which was controversially demolished in the ’60s.
7. A mummified cat was discovered under the floorboards during renovation works in the 1980s. It is thought that the cat was buried alive before the building was completed in 1838, as a strange Victorian tradition that was intended to bring good luck to the future building occupants.
8. The building closed in 1966, but throughout the decades found temporary uses and owners. However, since 2006 it has stood vacant, serving occasionally as a space for art exhibitions.
9. An approved scheme in 2004 by Associated Architects, to convert and extend the listed building for the Royal College of Organists, was shelved with the impending arrival of HS2. Plans were also consented to turn it into the ‘Ikon Eastside’ art gallery.
10. Under the latest plans for the new HS2 station, it will once again be used as a railway terminus. The new station will be appropriately named Curzon Street Station, keeping its long-standing heritage alive for future generations.