Lots of love flows on the rails from London; you could be going to Edinburgh, to Paris , to Wales, even to a magical land from a certain platform 9 3/4 – and the list goes on. All these journeys start from a train station. Most of the stations still have that old air feel that to me is quite romantic. However modernised, many still keep their charm . Who hasn’t stopped to watch the lovers in St Pancras? But one station that holds dear to my heart, is London Paddington station.
Call me crazy, but I find this station with its high dome, glazed roof, its long beams, its wrought iron arches, the multi sided clock and the muted light during the day, a great place to stroll about with a latte while waiting to catch your transportation.
My love for the station possibly comes from one of the most blinding moments of my life. I was stepping out of the tube station escalator and into the train station – I was just under the glass roof – it was a fairly grey day and the light was muted. At that precise moment, it started raining. I was only some steps in, the sound of the rain drops all around, echoing and it had been so sudden – it stopped my world for a few seconds. Everything else faded back, leaving me alone, looking up and experiencing a wonderful moment. Every step, every second I used that morning to catch my train to work took me to that one point in time. Amazing, isn’t it?
I’m eagerly awaiting a next rainy day at London Paddington. So far, I haven’t been there at the right time. Meanwhile, I take a latte, I sit in a train that departs from either platform 6 or 7 during late morning. I take a window seat to the right and facing backwards, I watch. As the train route curves, you get a great view of the station. And it’s a nice way to start any day.
Paddington station also fascinates the part of me that has always been interested in Isambard Brunel’s engineering work. I’m not from Bristol, but I spend much time there. The Clifton suspension Bridge is one of his famous projects. The bridge is more than 150 years old and to this day is used daily in the Bristolian’s commute. So, no wonder, anytime we have a visitor, a trip and a walk along the suspension bridge is obligatory! Accompanied by the story of the Victorian lady jumping to her death from the bridge – although, her billowing dress acted as a parachute and she landed safely on the river bank (whether the story is genuine is anyone’s guess!)
Brunel was a world leading engineer during the 1800s. His touch can be found in various works in the south of England, including the beautiful Bristol Temple Meads train station, which is at the other end of the railway route from London Paddington. His vision was that passengers could travel to New York via a steamship from the Bristol Docks – a journey from London to New York!
London Paddington was a collaborative work by Isambard Brunel, his associate Matthew Digby Wyatt, who did the majority of the architectural design, and Owen Jones, who designed the once colour scheme. I still have many things to learn about this railway station; I keep my eyes and ears open and appreciate any new tidbits. And when I’m there, I make sure to look away from the busy station life and take in its engineering and architectural beauty. It’s a delight to all my senses. And as I learn more about it, I fall deeper into its charm.
Paddington, as you can tell, is my favourite London train station. What’s yours?