Photo By D J Norton

New Street Station

New Street Station is one of the least loved railway stations in the country.  The platforms are buried under the concourse, the concourse buried under the Pallasades Shopping Centre and the shopping centre buried under a multi-storey car park.  No wonder it's so dark and depressing!

Unsurprisingly, it wasn't always like that.  It was only during Birmingham's redevelopment frenzy of the 1960's that the old station was given an unceremonial funeral and buried under layers and layers of concrete.

The northern half was covered by an amazing, single span roof as seen in this engraving.  This was sadly damaged beyond repair during the blitz on Birmingham in the Second World War.  The southern half was added in 1884 and was little changed until the redevelopment shown below - compare with this picture from 1885.

From what I've been able to work out from my father's photographs, from talking to my mother and by looking at the 1950 map, New Street Station's buildings used to be at street level.  Oddly, it was split in two to accomodate different train companies.  The Railways Around Birmingham website says that the companies were Midland Railways and LNWR and these joined to become LMS in later years.

Down the middle of the station ran Queens Drive.  One entrance was in  Hill Street and the other in Worcester Street.  Queens Drive serves the modern New Street Station but the Hill Street entrance is in a different place.  The entrance near the Bullring is close to where the old one was, however.  The splendid Queen's Hotel, an LMS station hotel, was on Stephenson Street and survived until at least 1966 before being replaced by what is now known as The Pallasades.

There was a pedestrian entrance in Station Street and another in Stephenson Street.  Of course, Queens Drive could also be used to access the station.  I've been told that New Street was an 'open station'.  Due to a public right of way passing through the middle, no tickets were checked.  They were either checked on the train or at an approaching station.

If you remember the old station then please get in touch to let me know if I'm right or wrong in my interpretation of how things were.

Disclaimer!  Some of the references to 'modern' New Street Station, above, have been invalidated by the work going on as part of the Gateway Plus project.  I'll update the text in 2015 when it's all finished...

New Street Book cover
If you like these pictures of old New Street Station, you may be interested in my book 'Birmingham New Street Station Through Time'

Queens Drive from East - 14/3/62

Queens Drive from East
The two halves of the station can clearly be seen, linked by a footbridge.  The building in the distance is the College of Technology that can be seen on one of the Suffolk Street pictures.

Queens Drive from West - 14/3/62

Queens Drive from West
Here we are looking the other way from near the Hill Street entrance.  The fantastic old roof of the southern half of the station can clearly be seen.  The spire near the centre of the picture belongs to St Martin's.

Station St Entrance - 14/3/62

Station St Entrance
The long gone Station Street entrance.  Scaffolding near the junction with Dudley Street indicates more development work ongoing.

Click here to see Station Street today.

New St Station No. 2 Box - 2/4/64

New St Station No.2 Box
The famous Rotunda looms large in this picture!  The big bridge running from left to right carries Queens Drive to its entrance from the
east that can be seen on the Inner Ring Road South page.

Platform 1 looking West - 2/4/64

Platform 1 looking West
Work is well underway here!

Platform 1 looking East - 2/4/64

Platform 1 looking East
The bus that can be seen is travelling along Navigation Street, heading towards Stephenson Street.  One corner of Stephenson Buildings can be seen on the left of the picture.  To its right, a tantalising glimpse at the frontage of The Queen's Hotel.

West end of Platform 8 - 1/8/64

West end of Platform 8
The west end of Queens Drive has gone.  My theory is that it used to emerge on Hill Street where the left most bus can be seen.

Platform 7 & 8 from West - 1/8/64

Platform 7 & 8 from West
What a fantastic picture!  Sunlight streaming onto the platform is something modern day users of New St Station can only dream of...  Notice the bridge linking the platforms.

Check out the colour pictures taken on the same day from the other end of the platform.

New St Station from Navigation Street - 31/10/64

New St Station from Navigation St
With the west end of Queens Drive gone, the cars you can see are parked in what's left of it.  The Rotunda and St Martin's spire help us relate this to the modern city.

The simple canopies covering the platforms to the left of the picture were a poor subsitute for the original roof that was removed after being damaged in the blitz.  The brick built building, also on the left, was The Queen's Hotel.

45369 New St Station - 31/10/64

45369 New St Station
One of hundreds of railway photographs from my father's collection, this one shows something very sad to see.  The splendid roof has been callously chopped down leaving the station open to the elements prior to its later burial.  Compare with the photo above.

West end of New St Station from Platform 5 - 22/5/65

West end of New St Station from P5
The huge conrete wall to the left of the photo is where I believe Queens Drive used to emerge onto Hill Street.

New St Station from West end of Platform 10 - 22/5/65

New St Station from West end of P10
The station is being rebuilt - that much is very clear from this picture.  Notice the old footbridge that used to link the two halves of the station when Queens Drive was in place.

West end of Platform 10 - 22/5/65

West end of Platform 10
The extent of work can clearly be seen here.  The brand new platform 10 looks clean and bright but the huge slab of concrete reflects what was being done to the city elsewhere.

Platforms 12 & 11 from East - 22/5/65

Platforms 12 & 11 from East
Welcome to the future!  The modern New St Station we have come to know and hate starts to take shape.  Goodbye 110 years of history....