|Although the railways were a great unifying factor in
the country in the 19th century buildings and structures used by a particular
railway company were not all to the same or similar designs. The reasons for
this were several-fold. Firstly many railway lines and buildings associated
with them were promoted and built by small local concerns. Thus they reflect
the locality. Such lines were either subsequently leased and operated or
bought outright by larger railway companies. Secondly even within larger
railway companies lines were built as discrete projects and/or in phases.
The architects and engineers on each project or phase had design influence over
the buildings they constructed - thus buildings vary between lines because of
the different architects and engineers involved. Thirdly even the large railway
companies were not insensitive to local building design and often aimed to
harmonise their buildings with local surroundings. Fourthly building design was
subject to the prevailing architectural trends of the time, and such fashions
change over time. Not only could buildings constructed for a particular line
reflect what was in vogue when they were constructed, but with subsequent
rebuilding designs can differ along a line over time. Finally railway buildings
had to fit their specific physical location so even standard designs had to be
When considering similarities lines constructed using the same architect and engineers, and/or around the same time, often display similar if not identical designs. Also ultimately railway buildings are designed for a particular function and thus with form following function similarities can occur even between different designs and periods.
The pictures below illustrate similarities in London and South Western Railway architecture at two locations around a hundred miles apart.
|Compare details at Ropley Station in Hampshire, opened on the 2nd October
1865, on the Alton to Winchester line and now on the preserved Mid Hants Railway...
photograph 29th May 2000 by Colin Duff
|... with those at Colyton below on the
Seaton branch in Devon which was opened on 16 March 1868. Colyton station, in a
much revised layout, is now the northern terminus for the Seaton Tramway.
photographs July 2000 by Colin Duff
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This page was last updated 3 December 2002