Essential Architecture-  London

Paddington Station


Isambard Kingdom Brunel with Matthew Digby Wyatt. 




1852 to 1854




cast iron and brick


  Paddington Station, March 2005 during rush hour. The two transepts in the roof can be seen.
Paddington station is a major National Rail and London Underground station complex in the Paddington area of London, England. The site is a historic one, having served as the London terminus of the Great Western Railway and its successors since 1838. Much of the current mainline station dates back to 1854, and was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The site was first served by Underground trains in 1863, and was the original western terminus of the Metropolitan Railway, the worlds first underground railway.

Despite its historic nature, and the need to preserve many of its features, the complex has recently been modernised, and has added a new role as the terminus of the dedicated Heathrow Express service to Heathrow Airport. The complex is in Travelcard Zone 1.

The station complex is located in, alongside and under a long thin city block bounded across the front by Praed Street and to the rear by Bishop's Bridge Road, which crosses the throat of the main line station on the recently replaced Bishop's Bridge. The west side of the station is paralleled by Eastbourne Terrace, whilst the east side is constrained by the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal. The main line station is located in a shallow cutting, a fact is obscured from the front by the frontal hotel building, but which can be clearly seen from the other three sides.

The station's location is something of a back street one, with none of the bounding streets being major traffic thoroughfares. The surrounding area is largely residential, and contains many of London's hotels. Until recently there has been little in the way of office accommodation in the area, meaning that most of Paddington's commuter traffic interchanges between National Rail and the London Underground to reach its eventual destination in the West End or the City. However recent redevelopment of nearby derelict railway and canal land, marketed as Paddington Waterside, has resulted in a number of new office complexes in the area.

National Rail Station

The National Rail station is officially named London Paddington, a name that is commonly used outside London, but rarely by Londoners[1]. Parts of the station, including the main train shed, date back to 1854, when it was built as the London terminus for Brunel's Great Western Railway. Today it is one of seventeen UK railway stations managed by Network Rail.

The first station to open in the Paddington area was a temporary terminus for the Great Western Railway on the west side of Bishop's Bridge Road. The first GWR services from London to Taplow, near Maidenhead, ran from here in 1838. After the opening of the main station in 1854, this became the site of the goods depot. After years of dereliction, it is now being redeveloped as part of a mixed residential and business area called Paddington Waterside.[2]

The main Paddington station between Bishops Bridge Road and Praed Street was opened in 1854. It was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, later commemorated by a statue on the station concourse, though much of the architectural detailing was by his associate Matthew Digby Wyatt. The glazed roof is supported by wrought iron arches in three spans, respectively spanning 20.70 m (68 ft), 31.20 m (102 ft) and 21.30 m (70 ft). The roof is 213 m (699 ft) long, and a particular feature of the original roof spans is the presence of two transepts connecting the three spans. It is commonly believed that these were provided by Brunel to accommodate traversers to carry coaches between the tracks within the station. However recent research, using early documents and photographs, does not seem to support this belief, and their actual purpose is unknown.

The Great Western Hotel was built on Praed Street in front of the station in 1851-1854 by architect Philip Charles Hardwick, son of Philip Hardwick (designer of the Euston Arch). The area between the back of the hotel and the end of the station's roof is traditionally called The Lawn. It was originally occupied by sidings, but was later built up to form a pedestrian concourse. Recently it has been re-roofed and is surrounded by shops and cafes on several levels.

The station was substantially enlarged in 1906-1915 and a fourth span of 33 m (109 ft) was added on the north side, parallel to the others. The new span was built to a similar style to the original three spans, but the detailing is different and it does not possess the transepts of the earlier spans.

In 1961, the decomposing body of a male child was found in a case at the station. Paper stuffed into his mouth was the cause of death. His identity has never been discovered.

A very early construction by Brunel was recently discovered immediately to the north of the station; a cast iron bridge carrying the Bishop's Bridge Road over the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal during removal of the more recent brick outer covering in late 2004, in the run-up to the complete replacement of the adjacent bridge over the railway lines at the mouth of the station.

Paddington is the London terminus for long distance trains, operated by First Great Western, to the West Country, Bristol, Bath and South Wales. It also acts as the terminus for shorter distance commuter services to West London and the Thames Valley, also operated by First Great Western. Two services from Paddington serve Heathrow Airport; the Heathrow Express travels non-stop whilst the Heathrow Connect service runs along the same route but calling at intermediate stations.

Paddington also serves as an alternative London terminal for Chiltern Railways' service to Birmingham, used when London Marylebone is inaccessible for engineering or other reasons and for one timetabled service per day. It is proposed that proposed Crossrail line 1 will serve Paddington.

All national rail services serving London Paddington are summarised in the following table:

Preceding station National Rail Following station
Terminus First Great Western
Intercity services Slough or Reading
Terminus First Great Western
Night Riviera Reading
Terminus First Great Western
Commuter services Acton Main Line
Terminus Heathrow Express Heathrow T123
Terminus Heathrow Connect Ealing Broadway
Terminus Chiltern Railways
Occasional service South Ruislip

London Underground Stations
Paddington Underground

Place Paddington
Local authority Westminster
Managed by London Underground
Platforms in use 6
Transport for London
Zone 1
Annual entry/exit 34.444 million †
Key dates Opened 1863
Transport for London
List of London stations: Underground | National Rail
† Data from Transport for London [1]
Tube Portal
The London Underground part of Paddington station involves stops on several lines: the Hammersmith & City Line at a surface station on the north side of the main line station and parallel with it; the District Line and Circle Line in a cutting in front of the main line station and perpendicular to it; and the Bakerloo Line in deep-level tubes below the main line station. On the London Underground map, the Hammersmith & City line platforms are listed as a separate station, due to their distance from the other lines.

As originally built, there were three separate stations on lines that became part of the London Underground.

On 10 January 1863 the Metropolitan Railway opened the first underground railway, running from Paddington (Bishop's Road) to Farringdon. The platforms serving this line were on the north side of the mainline station with the tunnel entrance under Praed Street. There was a connection to the GWR mainline which allowed it to run regular services onto the GWR's Hammersmith branch. The station was renamed "Paddington" on 10 September 1933. From the 1930s until the late 1960s the Metropolitan Line and GWR suburban services shared a group of four platforms, but the Underground is now entirely separate and forms Paddington station on the Hammersmith & City Line.

In 1868 the Metropolitan Railway opened a new branch to South Kensington, with a station called Paddington (Praed Street) in a cutting across that street south of the mainline station. This station was renamed to simply "Paddington" on 11 July 1948 and now serves the Circle and District Lines. It is linked to the mainline station and the Bakerloo line by a footway that passes underneath Praed Street and the Great Western Hotel.

The deep-level Baker Street and Waterloo Railway — now the Bakerloo Line — opened on 1 December 1913, with platforms underneath the mainline station.

The stations today
Today the District/Circle line platforms and the Bakerloo line platforms are linked by an underground corridor under Praed Street within the fare paid area. They can be regarded as a single station, and are shown as such on the tube map.

The platforms of the Hammermith & City Line station are still quite separate from the other Underground platforms, and are shown as a separate station on the tube map. However they are almost indistinguishable from the mainline platforms alongside them. Interchange between the District/Circle/Bakerloo lines and the Hammersmith & City lines involves walking the length of the mainline station outside the London Underground barrier lines, although the ticket barriers are programmed to permit changing between the two stations as part of a single journey.

The three pairs of platforms that make up the various sections of Paddington Underground station are served by four different services. Two of the original four platforms of the old Bishop's Road station are used by the Hammersmith & City Line and served by trains running between Hammersmith and Barking stations. The platforms of the old Praed Street station are shared between trains of the Circle Line, and trains of the District Line running between Wimbledon and Edgware Road stations. The platforms of the deep level tube line are served by trains of the Bakerloo Line running between Elephant & Castle and Queen's Park stations.[4]

All London Underground services serving Paddington are summarised in the following table:

Preceding station Underground Lines Following station
Praed Street
Warwick Avenue Bakerloo Line Edgware Road
Bayswater Circle Line Edgware Road
District Line
(Wimbledon-Edgware Road branch)
Bishop's Road
Royal Oak Hammersmith & City Line Edgware Road

The station in fiction

Statue of Paddington BearThe children's book character Paddington Bear was named after Paddington station. In the books he is found at the station in London, coming from "deepest, darkest Peru" and with a note attached to his coat reading "please look after this bear, thank you". Because of this he is named after the station.

In real life there is a statue of Paddington Bear in the station concourse, and a small shop full of Paddington Bear paraphernalia in the main station area. This statue is a representation of the original Paddington drawings by Peggy Fortnum.

The mystery novel 4.50 From Paddington (1952) by Agatha Christie begins with a murder witnessed by a passenger on a train from Paddington station on a parallel line.

There is an underground Paddington Station, separate from the real one, on the North London System in the novel The Horn of Mortal Danger (1980).

A toilet at Paddington station is where Fat Bastard´s rectal locator is found in the 1999 film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

In the horror film 28 Days Later (2002), a lengthy monologue describes a panic-stricken crowd at Paddington Station being overwhelmed by a killer virus.

In the 2005 film adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, some of the scenes in the early part of the movie take place at Paddington station (but were in fact shot on a sound stage in New Zealand).

The short story, Lambkin by C.J. Lines in the 2006 Tiny Terrors Vol. 1 horror anthology from Hadesgate Publications is based around the central protagonist's experiences at Paddington station.