Sunday, November 19, 2006

Train stations

Non-fiction from "The Railway Station" by J. Richards and John MacKenzie:

The great train-shed, one of the glories of the nineteenth century, lasted just as long as the century itself. It was the triumphant and majestic application of the techniques perfected for . . . the Crystal Palace, an arching rib-cage of iron to support a skin-covering of glass, admitting light but excluding the elements. It was a brilliant and classically simple construction, which created a formal beauty of line and curve, and facilitated constantly changing patterns of light, shade, and steam . . . In some stations the train-shed became the central feature, an eye catching shape dwarfing an insignificant frontage. Eloquent testimony of this is to be found in John Gay's magnificent photographs of London terminals, depicting, for instance, the forests of columns, arches, and metallic tracery supporting the roof of Liverpool Street Station and the line of Brunel's 'all-interior, all-roofed-in' Paddington, achievements that could leave only the most die-hard curmudgeon unmoved.