I’m no fan of Twitter. My Twitter account @Mike_Hig aims to be the most boring in the world. I have six followers. I rely on journalists and others to wade through the twitterings of the twitterati to alert me to the glimpses of sense and wit that intelligent, sensitive people actually broadcast on Twitter.
By this means I was impressed by some of the Twitter comments about the recent fire at Nottingham Midland station. Several people made appreciative observations about the building, including Lisa Allison @LisaJaneAllison, who wrote, “This makes me sad, it’s really sad to see the damage done to #NottinghamStation because of the fire. It’s such a beautiful building.”
It is indeed a beautiful building, all the more thanks to a comprehensive £150-million refurbishment in 2013-14: https://www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/news/terracotta-decorations-complete-gbp-60m-redevelopment-at-nottingham-station#.
The present Nottingham station of 1904, presenting a grand frontage with a porte-cochère to Carrington Street, replaced an earlier station that fronted Station Street. It was the Midland Railway’s response to the opening four years earlier of the grand Nottingham Victoria Station which served its competitors the Great Central and Great Northern Railways.
The Carrington Street entrance building, bridging the Midland’s tracks, served to hide the fact that the Great Central’s trains crossed over the platforms of Nottingham Midland on a lengthy viaduct. Its alignment is now used by Nottingham’s NET trams.
The brick and terracotta façade was the work of the same local architect, Albert Edward Lambert, who had designed Nottingham Victoria. He collaborated with the Midland Railway house architect, Charles Trubshaw, who had also designed the stations as Bradford Forster Square, Sheffield Midland and Leicester London Road, as well as the Midland Hotel in Manchester.
The architects made full use of the repertoire of Edwardian Baroque – rustication, pediments, Gibbs surrounds – and provided elegant Art Nouveau wrought-iron gates, all intended to outdo Victoria Station across town. The platform buildings, in the same brick and terracotta, provided public facilities in rich interiors with glazed tiles, coved ceilings and elaborate chimney pieces, some of which survive.
When the lines through Victoria closed in the 1960s, Nottingham Midland became the city’s only railway station. Remaining services that had used Victoria were shoehorned into Midland’s platforms, and trains between London and the North via Nottingham were forced to reverse, whereas before Beeching there was a direct line via Old Dalby.
The recent restoration is a matter of pride to Nottingham people. The taxis have been turned out of the porte-cochère, which is now a light, spacious if sometimes draughty concourse leading to the dignified booking hall. Nottingham station is a place to linger, even if you’re not catching a train.
It’s gratifying that more than one Twitter user thought of the building when they heard of the casualty-free fire.
Friday January 12th 2018 was a hectic day in the centre of Nottingham. A police crime-scene had cut the tram service at Waverley Street north of the city-centre shortly before the station evacuation blocked tram services to the south and jammed road traffic in all directions. Then a city-centre power cut blacked out the shops and much of the Nottingham Trent University campus, and caused the Council House clock to chime and strike at the same time, confusing people with a plethora of bongs.
As another delightful Twitter user that day remarked, “Nottingham needs a KitKat this morning…”
The tour Waterways & Railways of the East Midlands (September 3rd-7th 2018) is based in Nottingham. For further details please click here.