First memories of a London terminus?

DustyBin

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Mine should be of Kings Cross in the late 80's or very early 90's but I don't actually have any memories of being there!

Therefore, I'm going to say London Bridge (I remember seeing EPB's), Charing Cross (again with EPB's) and Waterloo. In the case of the latter I vaguely remember walking right through a 47(?) and sitting in the drivers seat of either a 42X or a 455; a photo exists somewhere which will confirm!
 
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Horizon22

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Waterloo in late 1999 - remember seeing the London Eye (the Millenium Wheel as it was known!) under construction. It was a busy warm Autumn if I remember correctly and my first time with family properly exploring the sights around London.
 

NorthKent1989

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Charing Cross station, 1991, I was two and I recall being carried off a slam door train (either a Greenwich stopper or a Woolwich/Lewisham fast)

I remember my aunt who was 17 at the time taking me to the coffee shop (it’s long gone now) on the far side of the station were I burnt my arm on the silver coffee maker.
 

32475

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Victoria station. Wish I'd gone in the Cartoon Cinema.
I certainly remember the news cinema and seeing some cartoons there with my mother when I wore short trousers. I also distinctly remember the Railway Collecting Dog on the Brighton side concourse.
 

Pinza-C55

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I have vague memories of visiting London Victoria in 1973 with my brother and his then girlfriend and buying a carton of milk out of one of those milk vending machines which were common at the time.
 

Taunton

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I certainly remember the news cinema and seeing some cartoons there with my mother when I wore short trousers. I also distinctly remember the Railway Collecting Dog on the Brighton side concourse.
The "News Cinemas" were on several London stations, and died out in the 1960s. Idea was to go in and out as needed, just to pass the time until your train. The films just cycled round in about an hour, never stopping, though most people didn't stay that long. Very cheap admission. There was no train describer board but there was a clock alongside the screen. The usual darkened interior of cinemas of the era with gormless "usherettes" waving muted torches in the approximate direction of free seats. At least they didn't expect a tip, unlike in the equivalent places at French major stations. Pathe was the principal news provider, and the lightweight news was interleaved with short features and cartoons. In times before television was widespread it was a principal source of visual news. Their heyday had been in WW2, but a number of the station ones seemed to be refurbished for a last fling in the 1950s.

The collecting dog was also a feature of several stations, the one I recall was at Crewe, which in the 1960s was always walked down the side of the Plymouth (Taunton) to Liverpool day train while it changed locos there. Some large, docile breed, with a box strapped to its back for charitable donations for the railway orphanage. Comparable charitable collections were done differently elsewhere; if I recall correctly Broad Street had a large model locomotive in a glass case, possibly made by Crewe (or even Bow Works) apprentices, where if you put a coin in the wheels turned round for about 30 seconds.
 

D6130

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if I recall correctly Broad Street had a large model locomotive in a glass case, possibly made by Crewe (or even Bow Works) apprentices, where if you put a coin in the wheels turned round for about 30 seconds.
I believe that there was a similar model locomotive (GWR King or Castle class?) in a glass case on platorm 4 at Bristol Temple Meads until quite recently and indeed may still be there to this day.
 

Kieran1990

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Kings cross in the mid 90s, 5 years of age being told to hold my grandad’s hand tight as we waited on the cramped concourse waiting for the platform to flash up for our intercity to York. Then bam platform and stampede would begin to board the Anglo-Scot express.
It was my first time travelling by train to see family in York. We always got the 10am on a Saturday and remember how crowded the station always was.

I do also fondly remember the flip dept boards at Waterloo as well when heading home to Guildford and always wanting it to be booked 442 not a VEP
 

32475

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The "News Cinemas" were on several London stations, and died out in the 1960s. Idea was to go in and out as needed, just to pass the time until your train. The films just cycled round in about an hour, never stopping, though most people didn't stay that long. Very cheap admission. There was no train describer board but there was a clock alongside the screen. The usual darkened interior of cinemas of the era with gormless "usherettes" waving muted torches in the approximate direction of free seats. At least they didn't expect a tip, unlike in the equivalent places at French major stations. Pathe was the principal news provider, and the lightweight news was interleaved with short features and cartoons. In times before television was widespread it was a principal source of visual news. Their heyday had been in WW2, but a number of the station ones seemed to be refurbished for a last fling in the 1950s.

The collecting dog was also a feature of several stations, the one I recall was at Crewe, which in the 1960s was always walked down the side of the Plymouth (Taunton) to Liverpool day train while it changed locos there. Some large, docile breed, with a box strapped to its back for charitable donations for the railway orphanage. Comparable charitable collections were done differently elsewhere; if I recall correctly Broad Street had a large model locomotive in a glass case, possibly made by Crewe (or even Bow Works) apprentices, where if you put a coin in the wheels turned round for about 30 seconds.
Many thanks Taunton.

The "News Cinemas" were on several London stations, and died out in the 1960s. Idea was to go in and out as needed, just to pass the time until your train. The films just cycled round in about an hour, never stopping, though most people didn't stay that long. Very cheap admission. There was no train describer board but there was a clock alongside the screen. The usual darkened interior of cinemas of the era with gormless "usherettes" waving muted torches in the approximate direction of free seats. At least they didn't expect a tip, unlike in the equivalent places at French major stations. Pathe was the principal news provider, and the lightweight news was interleaved with short features and cartoons. In times before television was widespread it was a principal source of visual news. Their heyday had been in WW2, but a number of the station ones seemed to be refurbished for a last fling in the 1950s.

The collecting dog was also a feature of several stations, the one I recall was at Crewe, which in the 1960s was always walked down the side of the Plymouth (Taunton) to Liverpool day train while it changed locos there. Some large, docile breed, with a box strapped to its back for charitable donations for the railway orphanage. Comparable charitable collections were done differently elsewhere; if I recall correctly Broad Street had a large model locomotive in a glass case, possibly made by Crewe (or even Bow Works) apprentices, where if you put a coin in the wheels turned round for about 30 seconds.
By the way Taunton, and this is off topic, there is a website called atticstation.co.uk and under their signage section there is a set of GWR cast iron TAUNTON letters that might be of interest to you. Not cheap but rather nice
 
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delt1c

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My 1st visit to a London Terminal was 1970 on a school trip . We travelled from Edinburgh in early non air con Mk2's Deltic hauled. Northbound was an overnight in MNk1 SK's again Deltic hauled. What I remember is the train being much longer than the platform and being told it was so heavy we had to have a banker leaving Kings Cross
 

Taunton

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By the way Taunton, and this is off topic, there is a website called atticstation.co.uk and under their signage section there is a set of GWR cast iron TAUNTON letters that might be of interest to you. Not cheap but rather nice
I remember that sign :) London end of the central island platform, facing the Down lines, saying to change for Minehead and Barnstaple. Signs on the Up said to change for Yeovil and Chard.
 

LowLevel

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Euston in the 90s wasn't of huge interest. Having been used to Birmingham New St it was more of the same.

However my eureka moment was catching a train north from St Pancras in about 2007 before it was unveiled. I caught a train north and I remember using the escalator to the MML platforms. I managed to look over the hoardings and I was absolutely struck by the gorgeous overall roof in it's beautiful blue all lit up against the night sky and I've been in love with the station since.

I've never been bothered by the commuter terminals, they're too crowded for me but I did always like Marylebone.
 

AngelRoad

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Mid 60s, St Pancras. I lived in the East Midlands as a child and my parents took me to London at least once a year to do the museums, galleries, the sights. We’d travel down Peak hauled from Leicester London Road, loved the sound of bolted bull-head rail, the distinctive smells of old stock, the sight passing towns, and wow, just fell in love with St Pancras, god bless you John Betjeman.
 
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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.
This is something I always did too (and still do on the sly).
Back in the day, I had two boxes to tick on the way into Euston:
  • First Bakerloo train on Watford DC = "we're in Greater London"
  • First red LT bus - usually a Routemaster seen passing Queen's Park = "we're in proper inner London" (what nowadays you'd probably call Zones 1/2).
    Very occasionally you might see a DMS on the North Circular Rd, but that wasn't as characteristic of London, so didn't really count.
 

Scotrail314209

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This is something I always did too (and still do on the sly).
Back in the day, I had two boxes to tick on the way into Euston:
  • First Bakerloo train on Watford DC = "we're in Greater London"
  • First red LT bus - usually a Routemaster seen passing Queen's Park = "we're in proper inner London" (what nowadays you'd probably call Zones 1/2).
    Very occasionally you might see a DMS on the North Circular Rd, but that wasn't as characteristic of London, so didn't really count.

Totally agree, as soon as I start seeing the Overground roundels south of Bushey, I know I'm in London.

Unrelated, but when I'm on the coach coming from the North, I know I'm in London when I start seeing signs pointing to the likes of Shepherd's Bush or Edgware.
 

daodao

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Mid 60s, St Pancras. I lived in the East Midlands as a child and my parents took me to London at least once a year to do the museums, galleries, the sights. We’d travel down Peak hauled from Leicester London Road, loved the sound of bolted bull-head rail, the distinctive smells of old stock, the sight passing towns, and wow, just fell in love with St Pancras, god bless you John Betjeman.
My first memory was of St Pancras in April 1964, arriving from our then local station (Didsbury, in South Manchester) by dining car express (presumably Peak hauled). It was my first long-distance journey and first trip to London, arranged as an Easter holiday surprise by my parents. Unfortunately, I have only vague memories of St Pancras itself as a formidable imposing building and have only used St Pancras on a single subsequent occasion.
 

Tracked

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Kings Cross - 1995 - a school trip, can't remember the trains that much but remember it being quite dark on the platforms and everyone else off the train seemingly in a rush. We went on the underground, and it was really busy, think it would be mid-morning when we got there so not quite rush hour. The other memory I have of that day is that we'd gone to the Houses of Parliament (one of our teachers knew the local MP), when I got home my parents picked me up from Doncaster station and asked what I'd said to John Major: it turned out he'd resigned as PM that afternoon to run a leadership contest (think John Redwood stood against him and lost)

Euston - 2002 - Didn't even get a train from it, walked past it into the centre of London from the hotel I was staying at and had a look inside, chaotic and quite basic inside.

Waterloo - 2002 - Either a Friday/Saturday late morning, just remember being quite surprised at how quiet it was and how spread out it was.

St Pancras - 2011 - Had been down to London several times between 2002 and 2011 and probably had a look at some point, but can't remember doing so. Was on an all line rover and doing HS1 down to Canterbury, then returned to go home on the MML. Nice shopping centre, looked very smart inside, the splitting of groups of platforms for different services was a bit of a surprise and I'd know now to use the entrance half way up the station to avoid the crows!

A lot of the others I've been through - Victoria, Paddington, Liverpool Street and Marylebone - involved early mornings or being in a rush, so didn't get much of an impression other than "oh it's quite big/small"
 
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Falcon1200

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August 1972, just short of my 13th Birthday, on a Thames Valley Railrover; This covered the SR from Reading to Waterloo, arriving there with EMUs everywhere, and the odd electro-diesel, 74 then as well as 73. And then going to Kings X, seeing my first Deltics and walking to the end of Platform 8 to watch all the loco shuffling. Unforgettable memories.
 

nickw1

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Waterloo 1983, just under a year after starting to use the railways, on a day trip during the school summer holidays. I think we went to the Science Museum and it was very hot - par for the cause that summer.

Main memory is how very big it was (21 platforms compared to 8 at Guildford) and how busy it was, with trains coming in and out all the time. Specific memories are a bit vague but I seem to remember noticing a CIG/EPB combination (unusual as I had been used to VEP/EPB combos at Guildford) heading out towards Aldershot via Ascot in the peak.

Didn't get to use other terminals for quite some time after that, next was Waterloo East (if that counts) and Victoria (Chatham lines) in 1986, and then Kings Cross and Euston in 1989. Since then I've used most of them from time to time, but still not Charing Cross, Cannon Street or Fenchurch Street.
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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Euston 1960 (from Warrington). First trip on a long-distance train.
Told to use the Northern Line to meet my brother at 1800 on a Friday at the top of the steps at Strand tube station (now Charing Cross).
It worked, despite the crowds!
Euston was big, grimy, old-fashioned and confusing, ready to be knocked down and rebuilt for electrification.
I can't remember the traction, but most trains were still steam-worked at that time.
I do remember the Board Room and the Robert Stephenson statue, and the famous arch outside (which served no useful function, and just got in the way).
Returning north on the Sunday, we crossed the newly-opened M1 instead of running alongside it, which must therefore have been my first Sunday diversion off the main line via Northampton.

A year later, I first used the Circle line from Euston to Paddington to reach university in Reading, and it became a regular journey for me.
Paddington was quite different in character, but just as grimy.
In those days, I usually battled up to Euston through the electrification works behind an EE Type 4, often hours late on a Sunday.
Returning north on a Friday, with few WCML services I mostly used the Midland route to Manchester Central, on the 1425 from St Pancras, calling only Leicester, Derby and Miller's Dale.
Always a pleasure to leave St Pancras behind a Peak, especially the climb from Ambergate over Peak Forest and coasting from there all the way to Didsbury or beyond.

It took me a long time to find the other London termini, and even today they seem "foreign" to me.
I think Fenchurch St was the last one I discovered, and that was only to complete the set!
I did manage one trip on the Marylebone-Manchester sleeper via the full Great Central route, before it was axed after full electrification to Euston (steam to Nottingham Vic, EE Type 4 beyond).
Also one trip on the Paddington-High Wycombe-Birkenhead route (I lived on the Wirral then) before it was downgraded, also after Euston electrification.
Reading-Oxford-Banbury-Birmingham, which you might think was the natural route north, had an appalling service then, usually needing 2 changes (Oxford and Banbury) and using stoppers throughout.
Only one train ran through, the Paddington-Birkenhead sleeper service, which was the one train not diverted via High Wycombe when the shorter route opened.
 
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nickw1

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What....you've never travelled on Eurostar? ;)

My pattern of using St Pancras is the opposite: of the 7 times I've used St Pancras, 6 of them were Eurostar journeys ;)

Was the start point of my longest ever continuous rail journey in one day which didn't involve any Underground/Metro/RER or similar, or bus connections: St Pancras to Munich in one day, July 2014 - completed comfortably in daylight, well before dark, thanks to it being summer, and thanks to getting the 06:50 or thereabouts to Brussels.
 

Taunton

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I think I've used all the London termini for genuine (ie not railfan) purposes, though I missed Holborn Viaduct before it closed. Got Broad Street. The last was inevitably Marylebone. They each seem to have their own character (John Betjeman wrote about the same), though not as much as they used to, which is a bit strange given the way separate TOCs have done their own thing.

I seem to be in a minority thinking Eurostar have absolutely ruined the classical atmosphere of St Pancras; it now just seems a shopping mall with a fancy roof and a ludicrous champagne bar that rarely has people in it, with the East Midlands trains treated like they are a pariah. Back in the 1980s, going there one winter Sunday evening to go to Nottingham, it started to snow. Inside was quiet, and more impressive than a cathedral. It was magical.
 

D6130

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I did London to Berlin in a day from there myself. Don't think I went there pre-HS1, though.
At the risk of veering slightly OT, a few years ago my wife and I travelled all the way from Pratovecchio-Stia in Eastern Tuscany to St Pancras in one day, leaving Stia at 06 23 (CET) and arriving at St Pancras at 22 57 (GMT) - changing at Arezzo, Firenze SMN, Torino Porta Susa, Paris Lyon and Paris Nord. That can't be far off the distance to/from Berlin and may even be slightly longer.
I seem to be in a minority thinking Eurostar have absolutely ruined the classical atmosphere of St Pancras; it now just seems a shopping mall with a fancy roof and a ludicrous champagne bar that rarely has people in it, with the East Midlands trains treated like they are a pariah
I partly agree and partly disagree. I'm not a fan of the big station shopping mall concept, which now seems to have taken root all over Europe, but I suppose the restoration of the roof and other bits of the station has to be paid for somehow. I agree with you about the ludicrous Champagne bar. IMHO it would have been much better to have a high quality real ale bar in the international gateway to England. However I do like the light and airy restored roof and also the 'Sourced Market' artisan food & drink outlet, where high quality provisions can be purchased to consume on your Eurostar, EMR or SouthEastern Javelin journey. The Hatchard's bookshop is also a great feature.
 

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