Paddington railway station was built as the terminus of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Great Western Railway in the 1830s. Perhaps you travel through it regularly — but how well do you really know it?
1. The area was once owned by someone called Padda
Paddington station is named after the wider area of Paddington (the bear, in turn, is named after the station). The name originates from Anglo-Saxon times. Padda is believed to refer to a local land owner, with 'ton' or 'tun' meaning 'the village of'.
2. It was the destination of Queen Vic's first train trip
Queen Victoria became the first reigning monarch to travel by train in 1842, heading from Slough to Paddington after a trip to Windsor Castle.
The reason for her deviance from road travel, according to the Dublin Evening Mail:
In consequence of the annoyance, from the extremely dusty state of the road between here and London, to which Her Majesty was subjected in her progress from Buckingham Palace to the castle.
Prince Albert was with Vic on the trip, but it wasn't his first experience of railway travel (show off). Railway engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was also on the royal charter train, but he travelled in the cab with the driver (bigger show off).
Following this inaugural trip into Paddington, Queen Victoria became a regular on the railways due to her frequent trips to Windsor Castle.
3. It's inspired by another London building
Paddington station was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as part of his plans for the Great Western Railway. When designing his new station, he was inspired by the construction of Crystal Palace, housed in nearby Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851, hence the abundance of glass and metal in the station's design.
4. It used to be in a different place
The original Paddington station opened on 4 June 1838 on a site to the west of what is now Bishop's Bridge Road, using the arches of the bridge to house passenger facilities. In May 1854, the new station opened in its current location.
During Isambard Kingdom Brunel's planning of the original station, he was forced to scale back his plans due to spiralling costs. A few years later, rail travel was becoming so popular, the larger station was needed after all.
5. The roof isn't original
When the new station was opened in 1854, the roof consisted of three arches, or spans, making it the largest train shed roof in the world at the time.
In 1916, cover was needed for platforms 9-12 (now 9-16), so a fourth span was added. Surprisingly, Brunel's original glass roof survived until the 1990s, when it was replaced by polycarbonate panels in a refurbishment.
6. The secret train service
Did you know about the parliamentary train service which runs from Paddington to West Ruislip once a day on weekdays?
7. Seen the multi-story horse stables?
Ever noticed the steep ramps around St Mary's Hospital opposite the station, particularly the Mint Wing? They're remnants from the days when the building housed multi storey stables for the horses that worked on the railways at Paddington — up to 600 horses at any one time.
The building remained as stables until the 1950s when it became a research laboratory.
8. It's on a rock record
The background track of Supertramp's 1974 single Rudy was recorded at Paddington station. It includes an announcement that 'the 19.45 train to Bristol Temple Meads will depart from platform two, calling at Reading, Didcot, Swindon, Chippenham, Bath Spa, and Bristol Temple Meads.'
9. You can buy a ticket to Ireland
From Paddington station, you can buy yourself a ticket to Rosslare Europort and other selected stations near Wexford in Ireland. No, there's not an Irish equivalent of the Channel Tunnel — it involves getting to Fishguard Harbour by train, and then taking a ferry to Rosslare — but the one ticket covers it all.