Cardiff Queen Street Station

I’ve spent a lot of time on Cardiff Queen Street station. As a child my friends and I would usually alight there to go for days out around Cardiff. Years later, I worked in Admiral Insurance in 2004/2005, and I would occasionally commute in from the Rhondda Valleys to avoid traffic. A decade later, I worked at the ATRiuM campus of the University of South Wales, and commuted there from Treforest for a few years.  So I’ve always been somewhat curious about the old station, even though it’s always felt so lo-fi and run-down in all of my encounters with it. Over the years I’d been even more intrigued, especially as there was so much evidence on and around the platforms that something bigger had once existed there.

Over 170 years ago, in October of 1840, the Taff Vale Railway opened a new station (and indeed, their headquarters) on the site. That station (and the local area) was named Crockherbtown.

Cardiff Queen Street in the early 1900's. Photograph by J. Blount Hopkins, in care of MJ Stokes

Cardiff Queen Street in the early 1900’s. Photograph by J. Blount Hopkins, in care of MJ Stokes

It was the first railway station in Cardiff, and helped prompt the population boom in Cardiff at that time. By the 1860’s, the Crockherbtown area had been widened, and in 1886 was re-christened Queen Street. Further renovations took place in 1907.

Looking south toward Cardiff Central, around 1900.

Looking south toward Cardiff Central, around 1900.

Originally a large hub comprised of five platforms, the station was enclosed under a grand roof. There were refreshment rooms on the first platform. Trains to the Valleys were all routed through Queen Street, as were connecting services to Cardiff Bay and Cardiff General (latterly Cardiff Central).

queenstreet_old1

Looking north toward the Valleys, around 1900.

View of central Cardiff showing Queen Street Station, bottom right, 1933 - Britain from Above

View of central Cardiff showing Queen Street station, bottom right, 1933 – Britain from Above

Cardiff Queen Street Station, looking north, sometime in the 1950's.

Cardiff Queen Street station, looking north, sometime in the 1950’s.

Looking north toward Cathays, 1960's. Photograph from the Courtney Haydon Collection. https://www.rcts.org.uk/features/mysteryphotos/

Looking north toward the Valleys and Cathays, 1960’s. Photograph from the Courtney Haydon Collection. https://www.rcts.org.uk/features/mysteryphotos/

Looking south toward Cardiff Central, 1960's. Photograph from the Courtney Haydon Collection. https://www.rcts.org.uk/features/mysteryphotos/

Looking south toward Cardiff Central, 1960’s. Photograph from the Courtney Haydon Collection. https://www.rcts.org.uk/features/mysteryphotos/

Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/10163027@N05/

Early 1970’s in disrepair. Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/10163027@N05/

As part of the British Rail 1973 nationalisation, all of the the 1887 Taff Vale Railway station frontage was demolished and replaced by a bland, red-brick ticket office, and the roof over the platforms removed. The western-most platform was also decommissioned, and would remain dormant for a further 42 years. All traffic was now routed through the central platform, which contained a small cafe and toilets. Trains to Cardiff Bay were routed from the remaining eastern platform. What was once an impressive entryway into the centre of Cardiff was reduced to a small, pokey and unwelcoming station.

Under demolition in 1973. Photo by Dave Hilton. Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/taffytank/

Under demolition in 1973. Photo by Dave Hilton. Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/taffytank/

Under demolition in 1973. Photo by Dave Hilton. Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/taffytank/

Under demolition in 1973. Photo by Dave Hilton. Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/taffytank/

Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/10163027@N05/

Mid demolition, 1973. Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/10163027@N05/

Cardiff Queen Street in February 1975. Photo by Hugh Llewellyn: https://www.flickr.com/photos/camperdown/8501696000/in/photostream/

Cardiff Queen Street in February 1975. Photo by Hugh Llewellyn: https://www.flickr.com/photos/camperdown/8501696000/in/photostream/

Cardiff Queen Street Station in 2001. Photo by Ben Brooksbank.

Cardiff Queen Street station in 2001. Photo by Ben Brooksbank.

With rail traffic increasing in the early 2010’s, new plans were drawn up to stop the bottlenecks appearing at Queen Street. As part of a £220m scheme (completed in 2015), Cardiff Queen Street saw the disused platform on the west side renovated and brought back into use, and a new bay platform built on the end of eastern platform for the dedicated Cardiff Bay shuttle service. The 1973-era ticket hall was demolished, and replaced with a very modern and spacious new structure, which incorporated up-to-date ticketing facilities and barriers. A similar renovation had also been put into place at Cardiff Central.

The new booking office under construction in 2014. Photo by Seth Wales.

The new booking office under construction in 2014. Photo by Seth Wales.

2016 view of the new building, from Google Street View.

2016 view of the new building, from Google Street View.

Looking north in August 2015. New platforms 1 (right) and 5 (left) in operation.

Looking north in August 2015. New platforms 1 (right) and 5 (left) in operation.

So Cardiff Queen Street now finds itself in the midst of a minor resurgence. While the station still certainly lacks the majesty it once had at the start of the 20th century, it’s no longer the run-down shadow of itself it had become by the start of the 21st century. Let’s see what the future brings.

composites

Picture sources:

Emmdee on Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/10163027@N05/

Peter Brabham on Flick – https://www.flickr.com/photos/taffytank/

http://www.urban75.org/blog/cardiff-queen-street-station-gets-its-old-platforms-back-as-part-of-220m-rail-improvement-scheme/

http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/WPW041787

https://www.rcts.org.uk/features/mysteryphotos/

Advertisements

One thought on “Cardiff Queen Street Station

  1. Great post Kris I remember the station with the canopies always looked impressive used to travel thru when going to pontypridd one thing about going on the train was I never got to glimpse the steamers at Nantgarw on the way as I did when we caught the rhondda bus ,happy memories of a once imposing station thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s