Brighton Railway Station. 1841. Designed by David Mocatta. The picture was lithographed from his own drawing, by George Childs. Source: "View of the Brighton Station." As originally designed, the station with its elegant classical façade was stuccoed (perhaps built of Suffolk brick like his other stations for the line, see Simmons 350). As it was then, the building seemed perfect for Brighton, with its fine Regency squares.

Left: The busy station from the front, with later additions. Right: The train sheds behind, by H. E. Wallis (partial view of the two longer bays from Terminus Road).

Although it is a Grade II* listed building, much of the station's original elegance has been lost over the years. It was was enlarged and extended at the back in 1852-54, and later remodelled by the railway company's engineer H. E. Wallis: Mocatta's first façade (topped by a clock of later date, which has recently been restored) was obscured by a canopy in this 1882-83 rebuild, and the porte-cochère added. The famous lacy ironwork, matched by the design of the street lights, all dates from this later period, as do the roofs of the train sheds. The decorative ironwork, with the towns' heraldic motifs of dolphins and helmet, and the rose of the company's own arms, marks the station out as the "symbolic representation" of the line, at the same time announcing entry to Londoners' most convenient seaside resort (see Dobranszczyk 251).

Left: Main entrance. Right: Blue plaque to Mocatta inside the concourse.

Mocatta's arched windows and doorways are still visible at ground level and his "colonnade-cum-arcade" are still to be seen at the rear (Antram and Morrice 62), but various other features often described as original belong to the later Victorian work. In all fairness, Wallis's curving train sheds, "three spans running roughly N-S in an easy curve," two of them very broad and longer than the third to the east, have been much praised. Nicholas Antram and Richard Morrice describe the total effect as "marvellous.... The result is a great space, very light and airy, and entirely characteristic of the greater Victorian railway station" (62-63; see also Otter 190).

Photographs and text 2006 and 2018 by Jaqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Bibliography

Antram, Nicholas, and Richard Morrice. Brighton and Hove. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008.

"Brighton Station including Train Sheds." Historic England. Web. 9 June 2018

Dobraszczyk, Paul. Iron, Ornament and Architecture in Victorian Britain: Myth and Modernity, Excess and Enchantment. Pbk. London and New York: Routledge, 2016.

Meeks, Caroll L. V. The Victorian Railroad Station: An Architectural History. New Haven: Yale UP, 1956. Note: Fig. 10 includes a plan of the station as it was originally.

Otter, R. A, ed. Civil Engineering Heritage: Southern England. London: Thomas Telford Ltd, 1994.


Last modified 16 June 2018