Euston Station is the southern terminus of the West Coast Mainline, which is one of the busiest lines by passenger numbers in the UK. Destinations include Birmingham, Manchester, and Glasgow. It is a key terminal, and it’s going to become even more important in the coming years, yet it has been poorly treated by bureaucrats, and its former splendour has been lost.
Euston opened on the 20th of July 1837, making it the oldest inter-city terminal in London. The station owes its existence to George Stephenson (one of the grandfathers of the railways), and his son, Robert, and was designed by William Cubitt (his brother Lewis designed King’s Cross). Rapid growth of the railways led to the station going from two platforms to fifteen during the 19th century, and this also led to some redesigns.
Redesigning Euston is a recurring theme of the station’s history. The London, Scottish and Midland Railway wanted to rebuild Euston in the early 1930s, and work began in the late 30s, but World War II shelved those plans, and the station suffered bomb damage during the war. Come the 1950s, Euston was cramped and dirty, and in desperate need of refurbishment, which British Rail undertook, in conjunction with electrifying the WCML. Because of the layout of the track and tunnels, the only feasible means of expanding the station was to build to the south, and that meant demolishing much of the original, Victorian architecture, including the Arch. This was seen as outrageous to many, but no amount of protest could save the Arch, and the renovation in the 60s transformed Euston into a functional, yet grey, concrete slab.
There has been talk of rebuilding the Arch, as part of the High Speed 2 development. The new railway will in theory provide quicker links between London, Birmingham and Manchester, and may eventually expand beyond these locations. Leaving aside controversy and criticism of HS2, initial work has begun on preparing Euston for the new services. There is talk of new Underground lines to serve Euston, in order to handle the influx of passengers. The whole ordeal is quite confused, and how it all pans out is unclear. We shall to wait and see how Euston emerges from all this chaos.