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By Ruth Leach on

Station Hall redevelopment – inspiration from our image collection

Interpretation Developer Ruth Leach reveals how our image collections are inspiring the redevelopment of Station Hall.

When we first set about planning the redevelopment of Station Hall, we almost immediately turned to our image collection for inspiration. Some of the images were absolute gems, so I thought I would share them with you and explain why they stood out for us.  I’d be really interested to hear what you think of them, and how you think we could go about translating these captured moments into the overall experience in Station Hall.

One of the feelings that we want to capture is a bustling, vibrant station where a whole mass of people are sharing the same experience. It probably couldn’t get more bustling than this – Waterloo Station in 1946.

Stations are the gateway to a whole range of journeys – from short distance trundles down a branch line to overnight adventures across continents. These passengers are waiting to board a boat train at Holyhead in about 1909. It’s a personal favourite of mine because the piles of luggage seem so evocative of an exciting journey ahead.

As well as the hustle and bustle of a station at rush hour, we also want to capture the other times of day when stations looked very different. This image of Derby is so atmospheric – you can almost hear the distant clanking of a milk train approaching.

Obviously stations aren’t just about passengers, they were also ‘home’ to countless railway workers. This chap is dealing with stacks of Christmas parcels at Waterloo Station. It shows the sheer volume of stuff that passed through a station, and I love that despite all the flammable material around him he’s smoking all the while. These human stories are exactly what we hope to bring out in Station Hall.

The look of a station is as much down to the small bits and pieces as the soaring architecture and grand trains. We have a fantastic collection of smaller objects at our disposal, and we want to use as many as we can in Station Hall. Rather than placing them in glass cases, our aim is to display these station objects in a way that is sympathetic to, and evocative of, their original use.

As well as the life of a passenger station, we also want to capture the sights and sounds of the goods yards that were so often found in and around stations.  These were a hive of constant activity, supplying local towns and businesses as well as delivering to individuals across their network.  This image was taken in about 1961 and shows Station Hall when it was still a working goods depot.

Finally, Station Hall is also the home of our royal trains.  When royal visitors arrived at a station the pomp and ceremony was considerable.  Although we might not go quite this far with our decoration, this image shows how ordinary stations also played host to extraordinary events.  Here Princess Alexandra of Denmark is arriving at the Bricklayers’ Arms Station in London in 1863.

3 comments on “Station Hall redevelopment – inspiration from our image collection

  1. The pictures showing all the parcels are really important – people forget that once upon a time, everything went by rail. Sales reps would ring orders through and these would be dispatched by rail the the customer. The K shoes parcel is probably just such a consignment. Nowadays we don’t see any of this on a station.

    The image you’ve missed though is the superb Cuneo hung on the very walls you’re working in ! It probably shows the human side of a big station better than a photo. I spent a log while looking at it last time I was in York.

    1. Hi Phil,

      Thanks for your comment. I absolutely agree, the Cuneo painting of Waterloo is fantastic, and we think it works really well in Station Hall for exactly the reason you point out – it’s so full of life. I didn’t include it in this blog as I wanted to use images that people were less likely to have seen. Lorna Frost, our Assistant Curator of Image Collections has previously blogged about the painting, which you can find here:

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