First memories of a London terminus?

AndrewE

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Euston, just post-rebuilding. Lovely great high airy concourse, beautiful green stone floor. Both still there, but both somewhat encroached-on.
 
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47271

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King's Cross at some point in the 80s. I remember getting off an HST on a school trip and struggling through huge numbers of people standing around those surreal yellow paths they had on the main concourse. Then weirdos and junkies in the filthy streets outside.

Absolutely nothing about it makes me remotely nostalgic for the past. King's Cross now is a joy to use.
 
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King’s Cross in the mid to late 2000s, god that 70’s extension was awful. The beautiful GNER livery, not so much.

I think I took a Thameslink train from the now closed Thameslink platforms which would make sense as one of my earliest railway memories is of the sound of the 319s traction motors.
 

steamybrian

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As a young child in the early 1960s travelling by steam train from East Croydon to Victoria (up train originating from the Oxted Line). Arriving at the large cavernous Victoria station which was full of people rushing around. After leaving school in 1966 I bought a five shillings red rover bus ticket permitting me all day travel on the London buses which I used to visit all the other London terminal stations from which I purchased a platform ticket for 2d. (I still have the tickets!). Euston station was still being rebuilt. Waterloo still had Bullied Pacific working on West of England/Weymouth trains. Marylebone still had the Great Central Line. Broad Street still had several operational platforms. At Paddington could be seen Warships, Westerns, Hymecks, etc.. Kings Cross of course was still the haunt of Deltics.
Photography then was so expensive that I did not take any photographs. It took all my pocket money just for the days travel...!
 

Killingworth

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Kings Cross about April 1964 from Newcastle, first visit to London and a solo trip for job interview. I was more over awed by finding and using the tube than train spotting but most trains still hauled by Pacifics or possibly Class 40s?

I recall the number of undeveloped bomb sites remaining around the City at that time. Quite a few have been developed, demolished and redeveloped since! On a slightly later visit I recall having a hair cut in the basement barbers at Kings Cross and finding it rather expensive by Newcastle standards.
 

32475

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Marylebone circa 1965. My Mum took me on the train from Rickmansworth when the GC line was still open. On arrival at Marylebone we walked down the platform and past our steam locomotive at the buffer stops. I remember it was very grubby and slightly scary for a 4 year old to walk past.
 

stuu

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The one I remember most vividly is St Pancras, but from the Euston Road side. I was vaguely terrified of it in when it was coal-black and half disused, like an overscale haunted house. It's hard to imagine now how much of a dump inner London was in places in the late 70s/early 80s
 
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Euston's scruffy platforms in early 1970s. Doesn't seem all that much different now!
Euston, just post-rebuilding. Lovely great high airy concourse, beautiful green stone floor. Both still there, but both somewhat encroached-on.
+1 for early 1970s Euston for me.

My first experience was as one of a small school party being taken from Wigan to London to visit the Science Museum and the like.

It was winter and got dark long before our train got close to London, so I was already disappointed at missing lots of interesting railway scenery along the southern WCML.

I knew Euston had an impressive, ultra-modern concourse from seeing BR publicity photos & magazines, but was not prepared for the stark, concrete platforms when the train pulled in. The platforms were so cluttered with dozens of empty BRUTE trolleys we had trouble making our way to the ramps.

It was evening rush hour and, even back then, Euston was very busy. Our teachers hustled us quickly across the concourse and down the escalator to the Tube before I had chance to look around at anything.

One of my biggest shocks was in the Underground Ticket Hall. Up until then, my experience of men who wear suits had always been polite, middle-class gentlemen - such as the well-mannered young man behind the bank counter who served my mother when she wrote a cheque for "Cash", or the avuncular optician, smelling faintly of pipe tobacco as he fitted my National Health glasses.

Here in peak hour Euston were dozens and dozens of middle-aged men with suits and briefcases, all of them in an ill-tempered, impatient rush - pushing and barging past us youthful northern oiks as we got in their way whilst struggling to work out how to buy a ticket from the line of machines, then the right way to put our yellow magnetic tickets through the automatic barriers.

The experience didn't get much better after we'd got down to the claustrophobic platform and our whole party tried to get into the same rammed, hot Victoria Line carriage. It was amazing no-one went missing or lost their overnight bag before we arrived at our hotel near Victoria.

In addition to a shiny, new Euston station, before arriving I'd had this idea that most of London would be all modern, well-organised and slick - unlike the shabby, sooty, workaday Lancashire towns of that era. Of course 1970s London was nothing like that! (see post #37)

My first arrival in Euston probably gave me a mild, short-lived, dose of Paris Syndrome, which apparently can affect Japanese tourists. But by lunchtime of the next day I was loving being in London, even if a lot of it was a chaotic dump, and have done ever since.
 
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Bletchleyite

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My first arrival in Euston probably gave me a mild, short-lived, dose of Paris Syndrome, which apparently can affect Japanese tourists. But by lunchtime of the next day I was loving it, and have done ever since.

Crikey, a syndrome to describe when people realise that it's an overpriced and definitely not romantic tourist trap! :D

Euston for me too - I particularly recall sitting in the "tunnel" on a luggage trolley eating a Casey Jones burger! :)
 

Purple Orange

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Liverpool Street in the mid-90s is the first I remember (my actual first was Kings Cross but I don’t remember it). I was really quite shocked by the state of the homes that were along the line and was amazed at how some people lived.
 

Islineclear3_1

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On the approach to London Bridge whilst unknown to me at the time, in a 2 Hap compartment, in the (very) early 1970s. Never took any notice of the station but but blown away by the sheer number of trains and numbers to boot. Never seen so many trains all at once!

Crikey, a syndrome to describe when people realise that it's an overpriced and definitely not romantic tourist trap! :D

Euston for me too - I particularly recall sitting in the "tunnel" on a luggage trolley eating a Casey Jones burger! :)
I loved Euston in the early 1980s as my mate and I could very quickly dash to any platform we liked through "the tunnel"

And celebrated our "cops" with a Casey Jones beanburger and milkshake!
 

stj

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Kings Cross in 1976 seeing a Deltic for the first time and Mk2 AC stock which looked very modern to the non AC Mk1/2s I was used to.
 

ABB125

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Paddington, in I think 2012. I was on a birthday trip to the Natural History Museum with my dad. We arrived on an HST, running at least an hour late because of snow. I don't remember anything about the station at the time. It was only the second mainline train trip I'd ever been on, and first time to London, so lots of new things to experience! The return journey was on a class 165/166.
 

subk2010

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London King's X, in 2014. My first impression of this station was actually from Harry Potter. I imagined the station might be very historical and mysterious, but actually, it's very modern inside. I was going for a trip to Cambridge by First Capital Connect. I can't remember the exact stock I was traveling on, only remember it was a very old noisy DMU train.
 

RuddA

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Liverpool Street in the late 70s, still young enough to be in a pushchair. The memories are vague but I remember it as being dark with staggered platform, not ideal when running for the Norwich train.
These were the yearly holidays to visit family. Initially my uncle worked for Borough market and lived in a flat above, with a window which was level with the tracks. After his retirement it was changing trains at Liverpool Street for Lower Edmonton and later to Enfield Lock. Always exciting waiting for the train at Enfield and a class 37 rushed through on the Kings Lynn service.
Liverpool Street is so much nicer now than then.
 

nlogax

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Liverpool Street in the late 70s, still young enough to be in a pushchair.

I first experienced Liverpool St around then as well, probably not much older than you. Just remember the station being dark, grimy and full of all-blue units.
 

O L Leigh

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Mine were Liv St and St Pancras, as we used to travel from Norwich to Bedford via London terminals during the late 1970s and early 1980s. I was only a small child at that time, but I remember there being a footbridge about halfway down the platforms and an enormous four-sided clock, and I certainly remember the large lettering for the Great Eastern Hotel at the far end of the platforms. I was also curious to see what looked like a separate station through the arches, which I now know to have been the west-side platforms.

St Pancras, on the other hand, always gave me the willies. I never liked the dark and dingy trainshed and the trains themselves which always seemed very tatty by comparison.
 

neilmc

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Some parts of the country in the late 1960s/early 1970s were best visited by railfan club coaches, but London was eminently doable by oneself, preferably over a weekend. We caught the overnight train from Leeds to St. Pancras, which meandered its way slowly down the Midland line, then emerged bleary-eyed about six in the morning. First was a buffer-stop tour of Kings Cross, Euston, Marylebone and Paddington on foot before settling down to a day of shed-bunking. I always remember Paddington, with its bluish-white overhead lights and a variety of hydraulics, maybe the odd one still in maroon livery, to set the weekend off. Our budget didn't run to London hotels but my mate Mick knew of cheap digs around Praed Street - I don't think I'd have let my own young teenage sons stay in such places!
 

306024

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Vague recollection of Euston as a building site, but all memories are really of Liverpool St. It’s a station that fascinated me since childhood, even to this day it still has operational quirks to keep you interested.

Running from the circle line to just catch a Gidea Park stopper was a bit like being a formula one driver. You has to take the best line round all the bends to keep up speed without bumping into anyone.

The manual operated departure boards at the platform entrance were very cleverly designed to get the different combinations of stops. Fortunately a couple were rescued and are at Mangapps museum at Southminster.
 

urbophile

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St Pancras in the 1950s. Great grimy Gothic cathedral. 77 bus from outside going past St Pancras church with its caryatids (one of my first and abiding London memories); Russell Square; Trafalgar Square and the Palace of Westminster.
More fascinating to me as a child though was Victoria: the vitality and movement and amazingly numerous train movements, mostly of green electric multiple units.And especially the departure indicator board: all those blue and white enamel names that shuttered and changed position every minute or less. And the smell of oil tail lamps: coming from a country station still lit by oil they seemed incongruous in the midst of the modern electric city.
Later on, travelling to Euston, I used to (still do in fact) enjoy looking out for the first Bakerloo line trains running alongside, the sign that we were nearly at our destination.
 

Dave W

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Love this thread, some of the replies really paint a picture of the thrill of arriving in the Smoke (even when it was grim).

For me, alas, not very exciting. My first trip into London by train was April 2008 but that was for an abortive FA Cup run so my journey got as far as Wembley Stadium. My first Terminus visit was into KX in the summer of the same year - my then girlfriend was from Leeds so after a night at her parents we went down for a forum (not this one!) meet. The majority of interactions I had with London Terminii thereafter were at Marylebone - I had an unsuccessful assessment centre for Chiltern's grad scheme (I still rue that a bit) in 2010 which necessitated me getting the first Chiltern of the day - despite being from Stourbridge the Kidderminster extensions didn't run that early. Other visits to Wembley, other cross-London hikes for football and so on, but nothing really exciting until the summer of 2012 when I started looking to move.

My most vivid memory, which I suppose I could tenuously apply "first" to, was the fateful day of 28th August 2012 when, with all my other stuff already moved, I waved farewell to the Black Country and boarded the Stour Town shuttle with an Ikea bag full of my last possessions. At Banbury a man asked me to move the bag so he could sit down (absolutely fair enough) but the only space was on the table so instead of 3 of us and my Ikea bag getting a table, 4 of us got to stare at blue polythene (not my finest hour, I admit). Much of that evening is a blur, I remember fighting my way through Marylebone and from the Bakerloo on to the Northern Line up to Finchley Central, thence the 82 bus. Looking out of the balcony of my vastly-overspecified (for my needs) flat at the mega sprawl of North London I wondered what on earth I'd done. Some 9.5 years later I'm still not entirely sure I know the answer to that.

Alas, these days I think I've travelled out of every single major terminus on every operator or pattern (IC/commuter/etc) of train at each, except the sleepers. It is somewhat a shame that it doesn't even register, these days.
 

Killingworth

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Waterloo, June 1966, travelling on a ticket bought with a travel warrant from West Jesmond to Haslemere. I'd heard that might help preserve the station by increasing passenger ticket revenue! It was my second journey to London via Kings Cross. All the people and long EMUs with doors being opened before trains stopped in stations! North Tyneside electric stock had sliding doors but the South Tyneside line to South Shields was using units similar to those I saw at Waterloo. Most of the units I subsequently used would probably have been pre-war Southern stock.

I got to Victoria for a boat train to Folkestone in August that year but didn't get to Paddington until HST trips for work to Swansea, Cardiff, Plymouth and Exeter in 1977 (latter two may not have been HST yet at that time). London Bridge, Liverpool Street and Cannon Street would all be about then too. St Pancras would have been 1978 or later. Can't think of a journey from Euston but must have gone to Birmingham. Certainly never used Marylebone.
 

Irascible

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More fascinating to me as a child though was Victoria: the vitality and movement and amazingly numerous train movements, mostly of green electric multiple units.And especially the departure indicator board: all those blue and white enamel names that shuttered and changed position every minute or less. And the smell of oil tail lamps: coming from a country station still lit by oil they seemed incongruous in the midst of the modern electric city.
Later on, travelling to Euston, I used to (still do in fact) enjoy looking out for the first Bakerloo line trains running alongside, the sign that we were nearly at our destination.
My first trip to Waterloo was an eye-opener, and might actually have been part of what made me interested in networks, just amazed at how the whole station could function at all. The old flip-style departure board always rattling away - and also the general lack of diesel noise & fumes, that felt a bit odd.

And yeah, seeing LT trains at Eailing Broadway always gave me a little kick, whether it was the anticipation of arriving in the big city when I was a kid, or just "home" when I lived there.
 

Hawkwood Junc

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Charing Cross some time in the late 80s. Would've travelled up on a 415 from the edge of South East London. I remember general smell of the fast food outlets and the voice of the announcer - I think it was John Elgar. I was always amused by 'St Leonards Warrior Square' and 'a trolley service of drinks and light refreshments is available on this train'. The 411s and 423s over on platforms 4-6 which usually rushed through Chislehurst heading to destinations that seemed so far away then.
 

Swanley 59

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King's Cross in summer 1969 - by mistake - and then Euston a few minutes later after a short ride on the underground. I was a little overwhelmed by the experience.

We had been for a family holiday in Mablethorpe and were travelling to Bolton for the second week to stay with my mum's family. Unfortunately, at Willoughby, we boarded a London bound train when my dad's question about the train going to Lincoln was answered in the affirmative; he did have a strong Northumbrian accent, so the mistake was understandable.

Nine-year-old me was blown away by the speed of the AC electric from Euston to Piccadilly.
 

6Gman

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Euston, just post-rebuilding. Lovely great high airy concourse, beautiful green stone floor. Both still there, but both somewhat encroached-on.
Indeed. It was a cracking station when first opened; then ruined by all the clutter.

Love this thread, some of the replies really paint a picture of the thrill of arriving in the Smoke (even when it was grim).

Alas, these days I think I've travelled out of every single major terminus on every operator or pattern (IC/commuter/etc) of train at each, except the sleepers. It is somewhat a shame that it doesn't even register, these days.
Leaving Kings Cross on the sleeper (Deltic hauled) was a treat. Arriving at Kings Cross on the sleeper and finding three of them throbbing at the buffers was even better!

(The smell of Cussons Imperial Leather soap still takes me back to a sleeper compartment!)
 

Scotrail314209

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Kings Cross in 2017, arriving in on the Southbound Flying Scotsman from Edinburgh, already thrilled with the quick journey, extra buzz added when it was announced we were approaching London Kings Cross.
 

ChiefPlanner

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Into Paddington - hauled by a maroon 52 with red MK1's whereupon a buffet car served ginger beer in proper glass bottles. Red Underground stock on the Circle line to Kings Cross and shiny silver trains to Holloway Road.

Next time it was blue and grey early MK2 stock and 47's -
 

S&CLER

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Arriving at Waterloo on a train up from Bournemouth, where we were on holiday, on 8 August 1963 - the day of the Great Train Robbery, which must have been in the early hours of that morning. I was impressed by the sheer number of trains to be seen on the morning up journey. Later that day we went to see the old Museum of British Transport at Clapham.
 

david1212

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It would have been Paddington as the terminus for both Cotswold Line and Birmingham via Leamington Spa regular services and any excursions / extras. The year one of 1968/1969/1970. I can't recall much detail but the LT museum was still at Clapham not relocated to Syon Park. I also was taken there mid-1970's, which maybe the year I recall collecting every pocket timetable on display and a staff member rustled up a few more.
That first visit might also have included my first visit to the science museum with a second visit by 1975. The latter was separate from Syon Park or a Motor Show. I've still never been again.
Early/mid 1970's twice I was taken to the Motor Show at Earls Court, which would fit in with extra services being run. At least once we went the long way round on the district & circle lines from Earls Court or nearby back to Paddington.
 

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