Lost London – Euston Arch…

March 22, 2013

The original entrance to Euston Station, Euston Arch was not so much an arch as a colonnaded monumental gateway, formally known as a propylaeum, which resembled the entrance to a Greek temple.

Euston-ArchBuilt in 1837 (pictured here in 1851), it was designed by architect Philip Hardwick and inspired by the ancient architecture he had encountered on a trip to Europe – in particular the grand entrance to the Acropolis in Athens.

Commissioned by the London and Birmingham Railway as the grand entrance to the company’s new station then facing on to Euston Square (the site is now covered by the station structure), it was designed to complement the existing structure which had been built at the other end of the line in Curzon Street Station in Birmingham.

The building, which rose to a height of 21.5 metres and was built from Yorkshire-sourced sandstone, featured four columns behind which stood large iron gates. Rather controversial even when built, it led to an apparently unexciting courtyard lined with offices. There were lodges to either side.

While there had been a couple of proposals to relocate the arch – particularly after notice was given in 1960 that it would be demolished so the station could be rebuilt – none of the proposals came to fruition, and despite some intense last minute lobbying to preserve the arch by conservationists (among those lobbying were poet Sir John Betjeman and architectural scholar Sir Nikolaus Pevsner), demolition – viewed by some as an “architectural crime” – started in December 1961.

While sections of the arch was subsequently used as fill in the Prescott Channel in East London (numerous sections have since been recovered from the water), the main gates were saved and given to the National Railway Museum in York.

There has been talk of rebuilding the arch particularly since the formation of the Euston Arch Trust in 1994 (the patron of which is Michael Palin) with the aim of reusing some of the lost stonework. While rebuilding hasn’t yet eventuated, the proposed redevelopment of Euston Station in more recent years has given the project new impetus.

PICTURE: Wikipedia.

About these ads

4 Responses to “Lost London – Euston Arch…”


  1. Thanks Mike – keep us in touch if you do hear of any movement on the Arch!


  2. I and another chap (railway buff) have taken a lot of time and trouble very recently to find out what’s going on with the Euston Arch Trust following a few articles in the Times and elsewhere. Like Michael Palin’s famous Norwegian Blue, one cannot be sure whether the Trust is a dead parrot or merely resting. It was wrong of them to re-establish it in 2008/9 or so and then do absolutely nothing further, as far as I can tell. Apparently when Betjeman had a last-ditch meeting with Harold Macmillan himself to save the Arch, the prime minister didn’t even look up from his desk. The cost of moving the arch at that time was paltry. Now it will likely be £24 million or more (took the estimate and doubled it!).


  3. Design – some didn’t agree with the classical take…


  4. From all I can see of the original design, the arch and its gates looked very impressive. So why was it controversial, even from the early days? Unnecessary development? Cost over runs? Wrong location? Inappropriate design?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s