Researching the history of railway architecture

Mallow Station, Co.Cork from 'The Illustrated London News' 1849

The opening of Mallow Station, Co.Cork, Ireland from The Illustrated London News 1849

The earliest railways were horse-drawn wooden wagonways used in the 17th and 18th centuries - mainly to haul coal. Cornish engineer Richard Trevithick built the first steam locomotive for a railway in 1804. Passenger traffic was insignificant until Stephenson's famous Rocket proved in 1829 that passengers could be carried quickly. Soon companies were springing up by Private Acts of Parliament to build railways for passengers and goods in many parts of Britain - the 'Railway Mania' of the 1830s and 1840s. The coming of the railways changed the face of Britain: see towns, inns, entertainment and bridges.

Urban underground railways began in London in 1863 with the Metropolitan Railway, which ran steam trains for 40 years. By the turn of the century there were several lines all run by separate companies, some experimenting with electrification. Most were combined by 1913 as the Underground Electric Railways of London. Then in 1933 all the lines were nationalised and became the London Passenger Transport Board (London Transport). Charles Holden was the architect who gave the Underground its distinctively modern look. From the 1920s to the 1940s he designed stations for Underground Electric Railways and then for London Transport.

Primary sources