How to Solve a Problem like New Street Station? The History of New Street

New Street station is the main railway station for Birmingham, currently handling about 80 per cent of the daily total services to Birmingham, is the hub of the British Railway system connecting the Cross Country, West Coast Main line and regional network providing connections to most cities and towns in the UK.

Over 35 million people pass through New Street station every year, of whom 87% are passengers, making it one of the busiest majors station in Britain (

The station was designed to serve 650 trains a day for 60,000 passengers but now handles some 1,350 trains and 120,000 passengers (double the number it was designed to take). Passenger usage of New Street has increased by 50% since 2000

The station is deeply unpopular due to it's regular overcrowding and being dark and claustrophobic due to the platforms being below street level. After many years of lobbying a plan to redevelop the station in a £600m scheme called Gateway Plus was given funding in February 2008.

The History of New Street Station

Birmingham New Street Station was built between 1849-54 to be a 'grand central' station to replace the unconnected termini of the London & Birmingham, Grand Junction, and Midland Railway's on the edge of town - Curzon Street, Vauxhall, and Lawley Street. It originally opened as a temporary terminus of the London & Birmingham Railway in 1851.

The station was constructed by Messrs. Fox, Henderson & Co. was designed by A. E. Coowper of Fox Henderson and Co, the firm which built Paxton's Crystal Palace. When completed, it had the largest iron and glass roof in the world, spanning a width of 212 feet (65 m) and being 840 feet (256 m) long.

Image reproduced courtessy of National Railway Museum / Science and Society.

The site was densely built up with shops, chaepls and some of the town's worst slums. The station was owned by the London and North Western Railway, the amalgamation of the amalgamation of the London & Birmingham and the Grand Junction but Midland Trains used it from the start.

Image reproduced courtessy of Simmons Aerofilms / Science and Society

The roof was destroyed by bombing in 1940 with the remainder of the station demolished in 1964-6. Following the wartime damage to the roof, the roof was removed between 1948 and 1952.

Image reproduced courtessy of British Rail / Rail Around Birmingham

The station was rebuilt between 1964-1967 with the design by Kenneth J. Davies, the lead planner for the London Midland Region at British Rail. Following the station selling it's 'air rights' the Pallasades Shopping Centre (known originally as the Birmingham Shopping Centre) was constructed with a design by Cotton Ballard & Blow between 1968-70 on a concrete raft over the station alongside a nine storey office block. Cotton, Ballard & Blow, also designed the Exchange Place building overlooking the ramp from New Street leading into the Pallasades Shopping Centre.
There is also an NCP car park located above the station.


Anonymous said…
The Midland side retained its overall roof until the mid-sixties rebuilding.

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