Visiting Leicester's Station, England: Ornate Structure by Charles Trubshaw, With Fine Brickwork, Completed 1894
A vibrant, ornate facility, with many memories
Although a previous railroad station at Leicester, England, was built in 1840, it was demolished and replaced by a structure built from 1892 and completed in 1894.
Its architect was Charles Trubshaw (1840-1917)(1), a prolific designer of stations. At Leicester, the architect used ornate, red brickwork, incorporating many arches into his striking design. Among the most conspicuous of the features of Leicester Station is the domed clock tower, which constitutes a highly visible landmark in the city.
Rail services from Leicester underwent significant reduction under the so-called "Beeching Axe", following controversial reports by Dr. Richard Beeching, commissioned by Transport Minister Ernest Marples (2), issued in 1963 and 1965. Despite the controversy, it is, however, unclear whether specific, former rail services from Leicester deemed uneconomic were actually misrepresented as such.
The original 1840 station was a large, Neoclassical structure, incorporating a sizable pediment.
While Charles Bradshaw's work at Leicester Station does evidence elements of Neoclassicism in the form of small pediments, his style in his later buildings has sometimes been described as Edwardian Baroque, because of its level of ornateness.
The station is currently managed by East Midlands Railway.
Interestingly, Alison Martin, writing in the Leicester Mercury in 2015 (3), described various other, former stations in Leicester, long closed, which formerly supplied rail services in and around the city; one of these was West Bridge Station, opened in 1832, and claimed to have been the third oldest in the world.
The central location of this Midland city made it a natural place for the development of rail travel, although historically Leicester does also illustrate the seeming principles of Aerotropolis: the economic driving forces of the 18th century were seaports; in the 19th century, railroads; in the 20th century, road highways; and in the 21st century, airports. While many exceptions can doubtless be found to buck these apparent trends, it is certainly the case that the M1 motorway in the 20th century and the relative proximity to Leicester of East Midlands and Birmingham International Airports have undoubtedly greatly influenced transport services in the wider area since the heyday of rail at Leicester.
Leicester Station is located at London Road, Leicester, LE2 0QB.
May 1, 2020
(1) Other works by Architect Trubshaw include: Stations at Bradford, Derby, Sheffield, and Bingley; and he also designed the Midland Hotel, Manchester; and many other distinguished buildings.
(2) It was found that the Minister himself had extensive business interests in road building, and he later fled the country over a dispute, which lasted years, about tax arrears. At a more subliminal level, the unpopularity of the so called "Beeching Axe" was one of a number of emotive issues which arguably led narrowly to the Conservatives' loss of the General Election of 1964.
(3) See also: https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/history/end-line-leicesters-forgotten-railway-194701
Some sourcing: Wikipedia
Also worth seeing
In Leicester itself, visitor attractions include: The Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower; Leicester Cathedral; Leicester Guidlhall; the Jewry Wall; the National Space Centre; and many others. NB: Leicester is very centrally located in England, and travel to other, significant English cities is fairly straightforward.
Birmingham (distance: 44.9 miles / 72.4 kilometres) Chamberlain Square has various structures of note, including the Council House, the Town Hall concert facility, the Museum and Art Gallery and various statues of prominent, local citizens. Bull Ring is focal point for the retail trade. The Chamberlain Memorial Tower of Birmingham University, Edgbaston, also honours Joseph Chamberlain. The National Exhibition Centre is a major visitor attraction.
How to get there : United Airlines flies from New York to Birmingham International Airport, where car rental is available, which also has rail links to Leicester. Travellers should be advised that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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