Visitors to the city of London, especially those who are visiting the metropolis for the first time, will be bowled over by the amount of public transport available, from bus to boat, Underground to over-ground, helicopter to black taxi. While the red buses and black cabs are iconic symbols of the city, it is the River Thames and the over-ground trains that really established London as the capital of England and many of the most famous train stations in London are historical monuments to feats of architecture and engineering dating back hundreds of years. The majority of stations in and around London still retain their old charm despite having been modernised to cater for today’s travellers.
Those who are staying in city suites hotel London will enjoy close proximity to many of the 12 railway stations in the city, making it easy to travel to other areas of the country and even into Europe. The oldest station in the city is London Bridge which was opened in 1836, making it one of the oldest stations in the world. A recent overhaul has brought the station into the modern day in order to accommodate the increase in passengers resulting from the new Thameslink service which sees trains leaving for the Southeast every 15 minutes. Visitors wanting to explore the British seaside will find it’s a quick and convenient train trip from London Bridge to the popular tourist destination of Brighton.
King’s Cross services the north of England and, with St Pancras and Euston, forms a triangle of stations which act as a main hub for the city’s transport. First built in 1852, King’s Cross performed the infamous role of being the terminal for the famous steam engine, the Flying Scotsman. The station is still the main terminal for trains departing for Edinburgh and its recent revamp has transformed it into a modern, convenient transport nucleus which also boasts a range of top-quality shops and the famous platform 93/4 which was used by Harry Potter and his fellow students to reach Hogwarts School. This point is easy to spot as there is a trolley stuck between platforms 9 and 10 and the official Harry Potter shop is situated close by.
Next door to King’s Cross is St Pancras Station which is one of the most impressive in terms of architecture. Built in 1868, the station is a magnificence example of Victorian architecture and, some argue, is the most beautiful train station in the world. St Pancras provides the gateway to mainland Europe, being the terminal for the Eurostar service and provides regular services to the East Midlands and Yorkshire. In addition to the upmarket, independent shops that line the concourse, St Pancras is renowned for its commitment to public art. A nine-metre high bronze sculpture, The Meeting Place, dominates the main area, while other installations include a statue of Sir John Betjeman, the former poet laureate. Guests enjoying the luxury of the London city suites by Montcalm London can get to both King’s Cross and St Pancras via the Central and Victoria Underground Lines.
Victoria Station is situated in the heart of the city and is one the busiest in the UK with over 80 million travellers passing through in the last year. It is a vital hub for tourists and commuters alike and is a short bus ride from the Montcalm in Marble Arch. The station began as two distinct stations, Chatham and Brighton, but was combined in 1924. What was the Chatham terminal now sees passengers boarding the plush Pullman carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express while the original Brighton station continues to service the South of England, as well as Gatwick Airport.
Paddington is a central transport hub and provides both regional and national services, linking the capital city to Wales, the West Country as well as Heathrow Airport. Although not as famous as the marmalade-munching bear, Paddington, the station has been around since 1838 and retains its simple trainshed appearance. Its most notable features include its glazed roof and the impressive arch designer by Brunel, whose edifice sits regally on the concourse.
One of the city’s first great stations was Euston which was built to accommodate the demands of travellers going between Birmingham and London. Despite its brutalist appearance, Euston was opening in 1837 but extensively redesigned in the Sixties. The building has suffered serious criticism due to its bland, grey exterior and is being redeveloped as part of the High Speed 2 project which promises to bring faster railway links throughout the UK. While the reconstruction has begun, there should be little disruption to the train services which depart regularly for destinations throughout the country, including the Midlands, Northwest and Scotland.
Covering 25 acres, Waterloo is the largest station in the UK, as well as being one of the busiest. The concourse is dominated by the famous four-faced clock which is a popular meeting place. The station is situated close to many of the city’s attractions, including the London Eye and the Southbank Centre so is a useful terminal for tourists, as well as providing vital commuter services into the South East of England. Another central station is Liverpool Street Station which opened in 1874 and was named after the country’s longest serving prime minister, Lord Liverpool. After its extensive renovation in the 1980s, there is little left of the original building, although some former features remain. The station is utilised by many people travelling for work as it is situated close to the City but is also handy for tourists wanting to visit the Barbican Centre.
The train stations of London not only provide a reminder of the past and how modern transport has evolved but also play a crucial role in the further development of the city and its connectivity. With the new High Speed railway network and the Eurostar, railways and their companion stations are providing key access to national and international destinations, ensuring London remains a central transport hub in the future.