Half a century ago work started to demolish Birmingham’s famous old New Street station as planners envisioned a sleek, modern city of the future.
These pictures from the Birmingham Post & Mail archives show how the old Victorian structure was torn apart to be replaced by what would become the much maligned concrete design – itself now going.
The shots show how the remnants of the magnificent Victorian roof, which allowed in natural light, were torn down.
In another picture the new concrete roof can be seen as it is built, condemning the platforms and concourse to decades of little sunlight.
The old station’s fate was largely sealed by the Luftwaffe, which carried out air raids on Birmingham, seriously damaging the original arched roof. It was deemed to be beyond repair and the decision was later made to remove it after the war and then demolish the station.
The original building had been constructed by Fox, Henderson & Co and designed by Edward Alfred Cowper of the same firm, and opened in 1854.
For 14 years, until St Pancras opened in London, it was credited as having the largest arched single-span iron and glass roof in the world at over 200ft wide.
The famous Bradshaw’s Guide, recently made popular by the BBC TV travel log with Michael Portillo, said in 1863: “The interior of this station deserves attention from its magnitude.
The semicircular roof is 1,110ft long, 205ft wide and 80ft high, composed of iron and glass, without the slightest support except that afforded by the pillars on either side.
If the reader notices the turmoil and bustle created by the excitement of the arrival and departure of trains, the trampling of crowds of passengers, the transport of luggage, the ringing of bells and the noise of two or three hundred porters and workmen, he will retain a recollection of the extraordinary scene witnessed daily at Birmingham Central Railway Station.”
Now the station is being rebuilt again and bosses hope it will be completed by September this year.
Earlier this year, the huge atrium, which will allow the station concourse to be flooded with light for the first time since the 1960s, was finished.
More than 6,000 tonnes of concrete have been removed by a purpose-built demolition machine to create space for the atrium and roof and the entire structure is being reclad.
New Street Station Birmingham Fact File
* Built between 1846 and 1854 to replace Curzon Street station
* Main entrance in Stephenson Street incorporated the magnificent Queen’s Hotel
* Once had the largest single span iron and glass roof in the world at 65m wide
* The roof was damaged in the war and removed to be replaced with platform canopies
* Demolition begins in 1964 and the station reopened fully in 1967
* 2010-2015 – work to redevelop the station with a new atrium, concourse and shopping centre