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Rail Around Birmingham
& the West Midlands

Rail Around Birmingham & the West Midlands

 

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Curzon Street 1938
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Curzon Street Station

1838 - 1966

Curzon Street station as a passenger concern had a complex and all but brief existence. The Grand Junction Railway was technically the first to reach Birmingham with a temporary terminus at Duddeston. However, the London and Birmingham Railway were the first to make it to the city centre when they opened a station at Curzon Street in 1838. The station they built was fittingly grandiose with its classical entrance building with pillared frontage designed by Philip Hardwick in 1838, who also designed the original Euston Station at the other end of the tracks. A year later the Grand Junction Railway also completed their line into the city centre with the construction of a terminus on Curzon Street too. However, in 1846 both companies merged and, along with the Manchester and Birmingham Railway, formed the LNWR. The newly formed LNWR looked for a more central location and began work on New Street, completing the linking of their London mainline to the station in 1854. Unfortunately for Curzon Street, this rang the death knoll for passenger services and the station was kept on as a goods-only station until final closure in 1966. Above, we see Curzon Street station c1938 (photo: A.H.Baker) with the old L&B's goods yard in the foreground, Curzon Street across the middle of the photograph from left to right, the L&B station entrance building top-right, and the main goods sheds top-left: the GJR's station was off to the left of this shot further along Curzon Street and on the other side of the road.

 
Curzon Street station building
Curzon Street station building, New Canal Street
 

Above-left we are standing on Curzon Street with New Canal Street in front of us. The station entrance building seen here has survived the threat of demolition by British Rail following the City Council's intervention and purchase of the structure.It is an impressive sight although it has lost the hotel that stood immediately to the left of it as we see it here. Above-right we have moved onto New Canal Street to again look at the old entrance building and its impressive frontage - the scale of which cannot be appreciated in a photograph. To the extreme right we see part of a gateway leading into the Royal Mail's yard which now occuppies the old station site.

 
Curzon Street station building doorway
Curzon Street station side entrance
 

Above-left is a closeup of the doorway into the station building showing the London and Birmingham Railway's coat of arms carved in stone above the doorway and plaque that reads: "Curzon Street Station. This plaque commemorates the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first London to Birmingham train at this station on Monday 17th September 1838". Above-right we have a close look at the gateway into the Royal Mail yard: the pillars supporting the gates are original features, this once being a gateway to the station yard.

 
Curzon Street station looking towards Lawley Street
Curzon Street station looking towards City Centre
 

We have now moved back onto Curzon Street and are looking along it towards the Grand Junction Railway's station site the remains of which are evident in the surviving wall running alongside the parked cars on the opposite side of the road beyond the gateway and billboard. As was mentioned earlier, the Royal Mail occuppy the site with a large distribution centre and warehouse taking-up the area once occuppied by the goods sheds themselves. In this view we can see the road entrance to the distribution centre on the right-hand side in the foreground. Above-right we are in the same spot but have revolved to look towards the city centre and New Canal Street. Roughly where the two white cars are parked used to be a level crossing linking the main station with the 'Top Yard' which was the L&B's old goods yard - this can be seen in the photograph at the top of this page in the foreground of the image. To the right of this spot today is the Millenium Point development which contains, among other things, the City's Museum of Science and Industry and is part of the 'Eastside Development' programme for the regenerating the industrial remnants of this area of town. For Curzon Street this is disconcerting as a new central library is planned for the current Royal Mail site with a projected completion date of 2007. If this goes ahead, I'm certain all traces of the old station, bar the entrance building, will be swept away so if you are planning a look around I'd suggest you go now.

 
Entrance to Royal Mail yard
Station facade walling along Curzon Street
 

Above-left we are looking through the gates to the Royal Mail centre off Curzon Street and this image gives some idea of the scale of the site - the keen-eyed will notice part of Proof-House Junction peeping over the horizon in this shot. As an indication of the size of the goods station, in 1914 it employed nearly 2,000 men, stabled 600 horses and had facilities for nearly 900 wagons even though it only had one siding which was long enough to house an entire train leading to much shuffling of stock at other stations such as Stechford before arriving at Curzon Street! Above-right we see the remaining wall for the Grand Junction Railway's station on Curzon Street itself which, when in use, had four large arched entrances for road traffic with a corresponding doorway for pedestrian access. Interestingly, the wall was only a facade and hid a rather second-rate set of passenger buildings/facilities beyond. Bearing that in mind, this photograph shows the remains of a pedestrian entrance immediate right - note the step into the recess - with a road-traffic entrance recessed immediately after the lamp post. Although the wall has lost some of its height and its topping stones, it is good to see it still in situ.

 
Blocked-off entrance
Station facade walling along Curzon Street
 

Above-left we have moved along Curzon Street to roughly opposite Cardigan Street and are looking towards the City Centre. On the left is the only remains of a road traffic entrance not to be bricked up - it is still a gate: note also the well-worn kerb stones and the bollards protecting the stonework. Above-right we have moved back along Curzon Street a few yard and on the left we now see the remains of a LNWR-constructed hydraulic pumping station that provided power for lifting equipment and other machinery within the goods station yard.

 
Curzon Street station site viewed from canal
Curzon Street station electricity substation
 

Above-left we see what remains of the rear of the pumping station. The building has lost its upper level and was once topped with a high brick chimney. The survival of this building I would posit lies in its later usage of housing an electricity substation. Above-right we see the doorway to this substation on Curzon Street proclaiming: "B.R.Curzon Street". I'm no expert on substations but I'm fairly certain the 'B.R.' is for British Rail. This is a really interesting site if you take time to look around and, as mentioned earlier, it is facing imminent redevelopment when all the relics above will most likely be swept away. Interestingly, in December 2004 it was announced that the Royal College of Organists would be taking-up residence in the station building itself following its restoration/redevelopment enabled by a Heritage grant. This is a positive move as it means the building's future is secure, however I did see an 'artist's impression' of the College site and on the corner of Cuzon Street and New Canal Street (the old hotel site)was the most odd structure annexed to the existing building: it would be shame if a good opportunity was missed for the sake of a modern architect's ego!

 

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