Designed by Philip Hardwick (15 June 1792 – 28 December 1870) the Station opened on April 9th 1838. The building was designed to match the impressive Doric Arch at Euston Square also designed by Hardwick. The station frontage cost £28,000 to build. The station was seen as the jewel in the crown of the London and Birmingham Railway Company and was the first direct railway line linking Birmingham to London.
Building the line was a monumental task and this was achieved almost entirely using manpower. Over the 4 ½ year period of construction more than 20,000 men worked moving 25,000,000,000 cubic feet of material by shovel and wheel barrow.
The journey from Birmingham to London passed over the newly built Lawley Street Viaduct before travelling onwards through, the then, green fields of Duddeston, Saltley and Stechford. The entire journey took 5 ½ hours to complete the 112 ½ mile journey along the line engineered by Robert Stephenson. Steam locomotives resplendent in the railway company’s green and gold livery pulled as many as 30 wagons behind them. Passengers arriving from London would have had their first sight of the new station from at least half a mile away.
The first train arrived from London on September 17th 1838. Passengers were issued with gauze spectacles to protect their eyes as the train passed through tunnels. One of these tunnels was the impressive Kilby Tunnel, south east of Rugby. This tunnel in itself was a massive feat of engineering and over 30 million bricks were used in its construction and the structure weighed almost 120 tons.
Facts about the Birmingham to London Line
The station is the oldest railway terminus in the world.
The line was engineered by Robert Stephenson.
The London to Birmingham railway line took 20,000 men over 4 years to complete.
The cost of line was £19,000 per mile (around £1.8million in todays money).
Once completed the project cost around £6 million (£500 million today)
About the building
Little remains of the original building beyond the facade we see today. The impressive columns remain and still sit on stones weighing 18 tons. To the right of the building there was the goods station and to the left the passenger station. The station site covered 10 acres in all and there were six lines of railway. These lines were covered by a twin spanned wrought iron roof that was 217 feet (66 metres) long and 113 feet (34 metres) wide. The total weight of this structure was 326 Tons. The locomotive sheds were big enough to accommodate 16 engines with their tenders or 32 engines alone. There were stables for 400 horses, warehouses for goods and a variety of administrative offices and suites for staff and company members.