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The Architecture The Railways Built - Series 3 starts 13 September on Yesterday


Paul.Uni
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5 hours ago, GoingUnderground said:

New Street is just a maze, especially if you are not familiar with it. It used to be so easy to change trains there. Definitely a case where privatisation was a step backwards, and away from an integrated rail network. 

 

Couldn't agree more;   I can't help but feel that they had a golden opportunity to sort that station out with the recent rebuild and maybe let a bit of light into the gloom of the platform levels, but no, apparently Brum needed another shopping centre, just one with an inconveniently large train set in the basement...

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The main issue with New Street now, for me, is that if using the east end platform exits the station is effectively split into two, so that changing between say platforms 10 and 2 means passing through the barriers, twice (although it is not uncommon to see barriers unstaffed and therefore left open). I have now learnt, eventually, to use the west end exits from where all platforms can be freely accessed; IMHO this is something that should be far better publicised. 

 

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I think this is the biggest problem with the rebuilt "New Street" - better signage at platform level would be a good investment.

 

At one time, I can remember platform changers at the East end being directed, via some lifts, through a maze of tunnels - which was interesting, to say the least.

 

OK - at 55, I'm too young to remember New Street before it's 60s "make-under". Photos in books suggest that there might previously have been at least some nice stuff there architecturally (especially pre-war). However, it was 2 stations (I believe) separated by a road - which probably wouldn't have offered seamless changes.

 

Then came the 60s - and a rebuild, complete with a shops complex which could probably be most politely described as "of its time". This could be a real maze.

 

This isn't an idle boast - but I know I'm good at navigation. However, even I managed to lose my way once or twice there (before finding my bearings again).

 

As far as I'm concerned, the 60s incarnation of New Street was one of those stations where certain movements were straightforward - but it was extremely difficult to find your way through the whole station. I certainly doubt if many people really knew their way around all of it - and that doesn't strike me as good.

 

The current version definitely has serious flaws - and I suspect that keeping that road through the middle might not have been the best of design moves - but I'm not convinced that it's necessarily worse than before.

 

It's just "different" - that's all.

 

 

Huw.

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22 hours ago, Ben B said:

 

Couldn't agree more;   I can't help but feel that they had a golden opportunity to sort that station out with the recent rebuild and maybe let a bit of light into the gloom of the platform levels, but no, apparently Brum needed another shopping centre, just one with an inconveniently large train set in the basement...

The "Anchor" store is of course no more as John Lewis closed it during the pandemoniumic.

Shame really as i had used it a fair bit. It was miles better than the down at heel House of Fraser and had a better variety of departments than Selfridges.

The shopping centre like most of Brum is becoming a "food city", nearly every shop in B'ham city centre that closes re-opens as a restaurant/bar.

I suppose it's due to the City's demographic profile as the youngest in Europe.

 

I much prefer the current New Street to the previous one, which didn't seem to be much better from a passenger's point of view than the old one.

The lack of direct access between the east end of platforms 1-5 & 6-12 is however IMHO a major oversight.

I can understand why it is as it is, because the Main entrace is off Queensway and they wanted through access to all other entrances and plenty of circulation area, which the previous one lacked.

 

The old steam era station had access to all platforms from an overbridge which ran from Stephenson St to Station St.

 

Edited by melmerby
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On 11/03/2021 at 09:04, timdunn said:

Next week is the Midland Hotel at Morecambe, Huddersfield station and Hohenzollern bridge, Cologne.

 

Tim, I'm glad you're including Huddersfield station.  It's a personal favourite, and not just because it has TWO real ale pubs!  Did you get to try the breakfast, or at least a bacon buttie, from the independent cafe on the island platform?  Last, but by no means least, I presume that we are going to see Felix and Bolt make their National Television debut? :D

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7 hours ago, caradoc said:

The main issue with New Street now, for me, is that if using the east end platform exits the station is effectively split into two, so that changing between say platforms 10 and 2 means passing through the barriers, twice (although it is not uncommon to see barriers unstaffed and therefore left open). I have now learnt, eventually, to use the west end exits from where all platforms can be freely accessed; IMHO this is something that should be far better publicised. 

 

 

That was the major problem we found the first time we used it after the rebuild.  We were bringing a Scout trip back from Brownsea Island (Poole) to West Yorkshire, a train journey that needed changes at Brum, Manchester, and Leeds.  Having, on a very hot day, already done a journey that had started with a walk, a raft-paddle off the island into Poole Harbour, then train from Poole to Brum, it was not an entertaining experience trying to find our way in and out of the barriers with 9 knackered Young People and a ton of ruck-sacks in tow.  Because I was the former Midlands native, it was left to me to try and lead the expedition too.  Fun, it was not.  It just struck me as a weird design choice with the station, unless the hope was you'd get up into the atrium and suddenly think "I fancy a sandwich and some new trainers whilst I'm up here"...

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18 minutes ago, Ben B said:

 

That was the major problem we found the first time we used it after the rebuild.  We were bringing a Scout trip back from Brownsea Island (Poole) to West Yorkshire, a train journey that needed changes at Brum, Manchester, and Leeds.  Having, on a very hot day, already done a journey that had started with a walk, a raft-paddle off the island into Poole Harbour, then train from Poole to Brum, it was not an entertaining experience trying to find our way in and out of the barriers with 9 knackered Young People and a ton of ruck-sacks in tow.  Because I was the former Midlands native, it was left to me to try and lead the expedition too.  Fun, it was not.  It just struck me as a weird design choice with the station, unless the hope was you'd get up into the atrium and suddenly think "I fancy a sandwich and some new trainers whilst I'm up here"...

They don't do themselves any favours with the signage.  Standard Network Rail practice is to put a large number at the entrance to each platform.  But if you find yourself at the "A" end with the split barrier, you can go up from say platform 6 and see a big sign for platform 8, only to find when you've got most of the way there that there is a glass wall blocking further progress.  In this particular case smaller platform signs would work better, together with large signs pointing the correct route to the other group of platforms.  I agree using the exit at the "B" end avoids this problem, but sometimes it's difficult to do that because of the number of people waiting on the platforms themselves.  

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6 minutes ago, Edwin_m said:

They don't do themselves any favours with the signage.  Standard Network Rail practice is to put a large number at the entrance to each platform.  But if you find yourself at the "A" end with the split barrier, you can go up from say platform 6 and see a big sign for platform 8, only to find when you've got most of the way there that there is a glass wall blocking further progress.  In this particular case smaller platform signs would work better, together with large signs pointing the correct route to the other group of platforms.  I agree using the exit at the "B" end avoids this problem, but sometimes it's difficult to do that because of the number of people waiting on the platforms themselves.  

 

Yes... almost like they should have spent some of the money on uncovering and modifying the platforms and tracks for the railway station part of the build, to deal with how cramped and busy it gets.  But hey, apparently we need more shops more than we need to sort out one of the countries busiest transport interchanges...

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1 minute ago, Ben B said:

 

Yes... almost like they should have spent some of the money on uncovering and modifying the platforms and tracks for the railway station part of the build, to deal with how cramped and busy it gets.  But hey, apparently we need more shops more than we need to sort out one of the countries busiest transport interchanges...

That would have involved increasing the total station footprint (with some horrendous curved platforms) or reducing the number of platforms to make them wider.  

 

In fact there is less shopping area above the station than before.  The original Pallasades centre was made of nine structurally independent parts in a three by three grid separated by expansion joints, and they simply (well probably not so simple in practice) demolished the middle one so the main concourse now gets natural daylight - the fairly dire old cafe at the top of the escalators would now be in mid-air!  You can now also get out to Stephenson Street (where the tram is) and thence to New Street itself, without having to go up to the shopping level and back down.  

 

So all in all it's a significant improvement, not perfect by any means and would be better if they sorted the signs out.  Disclaimer: I haven't been there for over a year for obvious reasons so things may have changed.  

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5 minutes ago, Edwin_m said:

So all in all it's a significant improvement, not perfect by any means and would be better if they sorted the signs out.

 

For example, it might help if they added signs with messages like:

  • "You can change platforms here."
  • "Use other stairs / lifts to change platforms."

OK - I'm not exactly sure about optimal wording for this sort of signage - but something is needed.

 

 

Huw.

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54 minutes ago, Huw Griffiths said:

 

For example, it might help if they added signs with messages like:

  • "You can change platforms here."
  • "Use other stairs / lifts to change platforms."

OK - I'm not exactly sure about optimal wording for this sort of signage - but something is needed.

 

 

Huw.

It's a difficult one.  For example someone changing between trains on 1a and 4a doesn't need to cross the "great divide", so would be better advised to use the nearest stairs/lifts/escalators.  Possibly something underneath the information screens, where you go to find the platform for your connection, saying something like "For easiest route to platforms 1 to 5 please use the exits on platform 9b".  

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Once BR had covered over New Street in the 1960s there was never any chance of it being uncovered again ! But I do agree signage, especially as the station is probably the busiest passenger interchange location in the UK, could be much better. 

 

 

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On 14/03/2021 at 19:35, Phatbob said:

 

Tim, I'm glad you're including Huddersfield station.  It's a personal favourite, and not just because it has TWO real ale pubs!  Did you get to try the breakfast, or at least a bacon buttie, from the independent cafe on the island platform?  Last, but by no means least, I presume that we are going to see Felix and Bolt make their National Television debut? :D

 

Alas - filming in the pandemic meant that only one of the pubs was open - and that was only serving briefly. So I'll have to return some time - oh well! ;)

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18 minutes ago, timdunn said:

Alas - filming in the pandemic meant that only one of the pubs was open - and that was only serving briefly. So I'll have to return some time - oh well! ;)

 

I wonder if this will mean with - or without - a filming crew.

 

(Don't worry - I'm not expecting an answer ... .)

 

 

Huw.

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I really enjoyed tonight's programme. 
I noticed Tim admit a particular appreciation for LMS concrete nouveau.  Does thihs mean we'll get to see a feature on the Bleach Green viaducts in Northern Ireland I wonder?

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Posted (edited)

Another excellent episode - definitely nothing "shoddy" about today's programme or the buildings visited ... .

 

(Yes - I know - Huddersfield station - construction probably paid for using money from wool.)

 

 

Huw.

Edited by Huw Griffiths
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Terrific programme tonight, really enjoyed it. Now trying to work out how to fit Huddersfield, Koln and Morecambe into future holiday plans, once we're allowed out again.

 

Graham

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As a resident of Huddersfield and one of the regular users of the station before the pandemic, I really enjoyed tonights programme.   And although I have visited Cologne, I haven’t visited Morecombe, so like @dagrizz once we’re allowed a trip will be arranged.  

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, 4630 said:

As a resident of Huddersfield and one of the regular users of the station before the pandemic, I really enjoyed tonights programme.   And although I have visited Cologne, I haven’t visited Morecombe, so like @dagrizz once we’re allowed a trip will be arranged.  

 

I think I've mentioned elsewhere but, for some of 1987, I was in the area - doing part of the industrial training component of my HND at Heysham power station. I was lodging in a B&B, at the opposite end of Morecambe sea front.

 

I'm not sure there's an enormous amount to do in the area - and I don't think the new Morecambe station is anything special.

 

The old station (which Tim was filmed outside) is an extremely attractive building - looks great from the outside - and it was on the inside when it was used as a station. As a pub etc, I'm sure it would still be amazing inside. There also used to be some covered platforms attached to the station building - it's a shame they're no longer there.

 

Another building I liked was Morecambe Town Hall - which, confusingly, was used by Lancaster City Council. I only visited this building once - a summer Sunday, when I was walking past and became aware of a bit of a "buzz". I quickly realised that lots of Bond Bugs and Morgan 3 wheelers were being shown. Anyone interested was welcome to pop in - and see some owners driving round a "handling course" (plastic cones in the car park), whilst loads of cars were lined up in a "concours d'elegance". It would be fair to say that I wasn't alone in enjoying this event.

 

Whilst on the subject of attractive buildings, Lancaster also has a number. (Lancaster is a few miles away - by road - by train - or by the former trackbed of a pioneer electrified line, now converted into a foot and cycle path, which I walked a number of times.)

 

 

When I was based in the area, summer Saturdays generally saw me catching a train. (My Young Person's Railcard wasn't going to use itself!) I particularly enjoyed the run to and from Barrow-in-Furness - the scenery (and some of the stations I passed through) had to be seen to be believed. As this line was, at the time, the preserve of proper "heritage" DMUs, it was actually possible to see this scenery - especially through the windows behind the driver's cabs.

 

When the "heritage" units were replaced by Sprinters - and particularly Pacers - with no front view, I know I was not alone in feeling cheated by whoever specified the 2nd generation BR multiple units.

 

 

Anyway, I don't think this thread is supposed to be about my memories of my early 20s ... .

 

 

Huw.

 

 

 

Edited by Huw Griffiths
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With all the locks on the Hohenzollern bridge, is there a corresponding pile of keys on the bed of the Rhine underneath? Another opportunity for the magnet fishers angling for scrap metal there!

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I bet Tim is relieved his ‘foreign correspondent’ did the Cologne bridge ;) If he’d gone someone was bound to invite him to walk across the top! 
Nice to see the photos pre restoration of the Morecambe hotel too. 

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10 minutes ago, PaulRhB said:


Nice to see the photos pre restoration of the Morecambe hotel too. 

Indeed, I'm a fan of Art Deco / Art Moderne architecture, but the light coloured concrete pretty much inherent in the designs doesn't half age quickly. Surprised they did it up for 10 million quid tbh.

 

...and going back to 2010 I spent a fair few hours in Cologne station but never noticed the bridge just outside!  Well it was 2 a.m. and rather dark. I did walk out the station the other way and saw the cathedral, a stunning sight in the dark when you're not expecting it.

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9 minutes ago, spamcan61 said:

Indeed, I'm a fan of Art Deco / Art Moderne architecture, but the light coloured concrete pretty much inherent in the designs doesn't half age quickly. Surprised they did it up for 10 million quid tbh.

I guess they either coated or painted it as part of the restoration to save on cleaning. As noted in the programme salty air attacks everything fast so they are lucky the skin seemed to have protected the steelwork inside better than the railings outside in the pre restoration photos! You could see the metal washing away. I’m not a huge fan of Art Deco buildings but enjoyed that section as much as the rest. 

Edited by PaulRhB
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Thoroughly enjoyed it all . The Midland Hotel was recently featured in the Murder serial "The Bay". Never been , so its another one to add to the list . My favourite section was Cologne Bridge . I didn't realise this was the third iteration of it . I have been there on business but thought that was the original bridge .  A really good series this .

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10 hours ago, Huw Griffiths said:

 

Another building I liked was Morecambe Town Hall - which, confusingly, was used by Lancaster City Council.

 

Huw.

 

These days Morecambe (also Heyshan & Carnforth) is part of the City of Lancaster and I have heard, not popular with the residents of Morecambe who think they get a raw deal with services and investment.

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