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 York Old Station

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York’s first railway was the York & North Midland (YNM), giving the city access to the West Riding, Midlands and London, by linking it with the Leeds & Selby Railway (opened in 1834) and North Midland (opened in 1840).  The YNM was the first company to be chaired by the Railway King, George Hudson, and opened in stages. The first section opened in May 1839 from a junction with the Leeds & Selby near South Milford to a temporary station in Queen Street, just outside York’s medieval city walls. The remainder opened in 1840. The permanent station was planned by the YNM but they shared its cost with the Great North of England Railway (GNE), whose line from Darlington to York opened in January 1841 to coal traffic and in March to passengers.

York Station opened on 4 January 1841, and was situated within the city walls on a site previously occupied by the city’s House of Correction and the nursery garden of Thomas Backhouse, one of the YNM promoters. It was designed by Hudson’s friend George Townsend Andrews, an architect who was also responsible for the handsomely-proportioned Gothic arch by which the railway penetrated the medieval wall. During 1841-2 a ‘Merchandise Station’ was built to his design on an adjoining site. Traffic growth led to the enlargement of the station in 1845-6 and the construction of a second arch through the walls.

York Station in 1858, from Nathaniel Whittock's Birds Eye View of York. The Merchandise Station lies to the right of the two arches. The right-hand arch is the original of 1839.


York Old Station, seen from Tanner Row. The booking office was in the middle range, fronted by an arcade, with a colonnade either side forming an entrance portico. During the eighteen fifties extra office space was provided by adding the top floor seen here and by moving the ground-floor's front wall forward to just behind the columns. George Hudson's boardroom lay behind the arched windows on the first floor.


The restricted site made further enlargement of the platforms impossible, and the station was bursting at the seams long before its replacement, the present York station, opened in 1877. This was on a new site and had the additional advantage of being a through station rather than a terminus. The Old Station retained its tracks, used to store carriages, until the nineteen-sixties, when they were removed to permit the building of a new office block, Hudson House. From the outset, the station contained the offices of Hudson’s York & North Midland Railway. It subsequently housed the head offices of the North Eastern Railway, North Eastern Area of the London & North Eastern Railway, North Eastern Region of British Railways, and Eastern Region of British Rail. In December 2009 York City Council announced that it would be adapted to become their new headquarters.

 York Stations Old and New, pictured by the Illustrated London News in 1881. On the right is the second arch  through the City Walls, made in 1845-6.







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© W. Fawcett, 2011