Curzon Street Station is the oldest railway terminus in the world and was once a vibrant hub of trade and industry. It was the terminus of the first railway line to link London to Birmingham, which was engineered by Robert Stephenson.
The station was originally known as Birmingham Station before New Street was constructed.
The surviving station entrance building is Grade I listed. The surrounding and adjoining buildings and platforms have all been demolished, leaving only the entrance building, which sits alone and vacant next to Millennium Point and BCU’s new Parkside campus. The exterior walls bear the scars of where they would have joined a much larger structure, when the station was in use.
It is a powerful landmark of national importance; an immovable structure of ashlar stone, adorned by huge ionic columns, and a reminder of the city’s importance as a former industrial power.
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.
Behind the giant red doors, the interior is haunting, a hollow space, filled only by creaking and whistling of the wind through the broken windows. The rooms are devoid of furniture, lost to time and use, however many original features such as the fireplaces and light fixtures have survived.
The Palladian-inspired entrance hall is the centrepiece, thanks to its majestic staircase, which works its way up to the octagonal lantern roof light that floods the space with natural light. The landings, supported on Doric columns, look out through the semi-circular Diocletian window above the entrance door, framing dramatic views over Eastside.
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.
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. It now sits central to the masterplan for the HS2 station that will once again be known as Curzon Street.
Article by Matthew Goer, Director, Associated Architects
Published in the Birmingham Post, 2 January 2014