The mural at Euston (Tom Eckersley) shows the lost arch of Euston Station. The arch was lost during the re-building of the station in the 1960s and would have been very familiar to anyone using the new underground station when it first opened in late 1968.
The Victoria line has a cross platform interchange with the Northbound Northern line (City Branch) at Euston. Interestingly and somewhat confusingly, the Victoria line and Northern line trains are actually travelling in opposite directions across the platforms. One can also change for the Charing Cross Branch of the Northern line at Euston too.
A Victorian Loss
The arch formed an oversized entrance to the original Euston Station. It was erected when the station opened in 1838 and it stood about 70 foot tall.
The station itself grew haphazardly over the next hundred years into a complicated web of arrival, suburban and departure platforms. Effectively, the station expanded either side of the original 1830s buildings (including the arch) leaving them a little marooned in the middle.
The Arch in the middl.e
By the late 1950s, with the electrification and modernisation of the railway pending, the station layout was deemed unfit for purpose. As the arch was now located towards the centre of the station (it was actually located at the entrances to platforms 9 and 10 in current station), it was almost inevitable that any rebuilding project would require, if not its total elimination, at least its relocation.
In the end, and despite protests in parliament, the calls for its demolition won the day and when rebuilding Euston began in earnest in 1962 the arch was pulled down. Following removal from the site various bits of it were dumped into an East London river, where most of them still remain today.
The new Euston Station was opened, almost at the same time as the Victoria line reached it, in 1968. Designed in modernist style and, with the cab rank located underneath the concourse and the parcel depot above the platform, it was a text book example of how an efficient station should be built. It resembled an airport terminal more than a railway station and symbolised the hope behind the newly-launched “British Rail” brand.
It is fair to say that “the new Euston”, now 50 years old, has not aged well. It is still very functional and efficient but the additions of a clumsy mezzanine and retail stalls cluttering up the once clean concourse have not helped the look and feel of the place. Compared with the clever reworking of older stations like St Pancras, Paddington and Kings Cross, Euston now feels dowdy and almost old-fashioned.
So it is not surprising that Euston is set for another radical reworking under the new HS2 plans. Ironically, whilst much of the 1960’s station may be lost, there are plans to resurrect the stones from the old arch and rebuild it in a prominent position outside the final station. That would help the Victoria line mural to make sense again.
The Euston Tap (Euston Road)
Yet, despite all the modernity, one part of the old station actually managed to survive. Two cube-shaped lodges either side of the main gates were somehow retained.
The buildings, which stand where many people erroneously believe the arch once stood, were added in 1870 and include the carved insignia of the then railway company (LNWR) and the names of destinations served by the station.
These lodges have recently been converted to bars, the Euston Tap and the Cider Tap. With their intimate atmosphere and quaint spiral staircases, are excellent places to wait for a train or simply stop by for a drink.