6 Secrets Of Euston Station

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 71 months ago
6 Secrets Of Euston Station
Photo: Londonist

Why's it called Euston?

Euston station gets its name from Euston Hall in Suffolk, the home of the Dukes of Grafton, who owned what was then farmland in the area on which the railway station was built. We drove through the village of Euston in Suffolk recently, and can tell you it's a darn sight more bucolic than London's. Then again, in the way of amenities it's got one phone box, little else and certainly no train station.

How it was nearly in Chalk Farm

Euston was London's first mainline station and the first to connect London to another city (Birmingham) — except it almost didn't. When father and son team George and Louis Stephenson got permission to build their railway in 1833, objections from local farmers meant they had to abandon their plans to site their terminal station where present-day Euston is, and put it in Chalk Farm instead.

Chalk Farm was nearly much more than a tube station. Photo: carugg

However, in 1835, permission was given for the Euston terminal to be built in time for the opening of the railway in 1837. That's why the railway comes into Chalk Farm from the west and suddenly branches south towards Euston, even though there's no longer a National Rail station in Chalk Farm today.

The first expansion

The Victorians may have slightly underestimated how popular rail travel was going to be: Euston station was first expanded just nine years after it opened.

In the first instance it had just two platforms, one for arrivals, one for departures (and some sidings in the middle for storing carriages). As soon as 1846, Euston was expanded, making room for the headquarters of the newly-formed London & North Western Railway.

It's all uphill from here

The tracks laid from Camden to Euston were on an uphill incline, and the use of locomotive engines on this section of track was banned, as locals were concerned about the noise and smoke that the effort of the engines travelling uphill would produce.

A winding house was built to pull the trains uphill by cables. The building of the winding house can still be seen in Gloucester Avenue today, right next to the railway and just south of Regent's Canal. It is Grade II* listed and is now a railway goods depot.

The Paolozzi artwork

Photo: Matt Brown

Eduardo Paolozzi — best-known for his much-loved mosaics in Tottenham Court Road station — also made his mark close to Euston station.

The above statue, named Piscator, can be seen on the station forecourt and was made by Paolozzi. It's dedicated to Erwin Piscator, a German theatre director.

The grave under platform 15

Today, a statue of Matthew Flinders exists in Euston station — although most people use it as a rubbish bin. Photo: Londonist

It is thought that the body of navigator and explorer Matthew Flinders — the first person to circumnavigate Australia — is buried somewhere beneath the platforms of Euston.

He died in 1814 and was buried in St James' Churchyard, next to what is now the station. However, the station itself expanded into the graveyard in the 19th century, and many of the corpses were relocated. Reports vary as to whether the grave is under platform 12 or platform 15, and it's never been verified that it's there at all. But it's something to think about next time you're waiting around for the 18.03 to Birmingham.

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Last Updated 27 September 2016