Cookies and We use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. If you continue, we'll assume that you are happy to receive them.
You can read more about how we use cookies, and turn them off, on this page.

Paddington Station, London

Archive/Image Reference


Title of Original Drawing



Name goes here

Description of Drawing


Date of Creation


Scale of Original Drawing


  • Image 1 of 6
    Alterations - Details of End Screen
    Paddington Station...
  • Image 2 of 6
    New Office Block Arrival Side Number 1
    Paddington Station...
  • Image 3 of 6
    New Office Block Arrival Side Number 9
    Paddington Station...
  • Image 4 of 6
    Diagonal and Segmental Ribs for 102' 6" and 68' 0 Transcepts
    Paddington Station...
  • Image 5 of 6
    Plan of Original Temporary Terminus
    Paddington Station...
  • Image 6 of 6
    Alterations - Details of New Main Roof
    Paddington Station...
Details of end screen at Paddington Station
Details of end screen at Paddington Station

Did you know?

In the Great Western Railway Act of 1835 which allowed the railway to be built, the original terminus of the Great Western Railway was to be shared with the London and Birmingham Railway’s terminus at Euston. 

Brunel’s terminus for the Great Western Railway

Paddington Station is the grand terminus for the Great Western Railway that Isambard Kingdom Brunel always intended. Its story reflects that of the railway throughout the 19th, 20th and into the 21st century.

For the London terminus of the Great Western Railway (GWR), Isambard Kingdom Brunel was planning a grand building at Paddington, situated near to both the Grand Junction canal and the Regent’s canal. Instructed by the GWR to economise due to the soaring costs of building the main line, Brunel had to abandon his original plans. A temporary station was created using the arches of Bishop’s Bridge Road as a façade and to provide passenger facilities. This station opened on 4 June 1838, along with the new line which had been constructed as far as Maidenhead.

As the main line through to Bristol was opened, and the GWR’s involvement with other companies whose railways joined with the main line increased, the temporary terminus was extended. In 1850, to accommodate the increasing traffic, the GWR agreed to the construction of a new permanent station to be designed by Brunel.


Brunel’s ‘new’ station

Brunel was deeply influenced by the design and construction of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851, and this can be seen in his use of wrought iron and glass in the three-span roof at Paddington. At the time, this was the largest train shed roof in the world with a main span (102’ 6”) and two smaller ones to the north (70’) and south (68’). These spans are crossed by two transepts, all overlooked by three oriel windows in the station building on today’s platform 1. The station decoration, including the iron tracery on the train shed screens, was provided by Matthew Digby-Wyatt, Brunel’s architect on the project. Fox Henderson & Company, were contracted as builders for the station. The main station building, which included offices, the new boardroom for the GWR and a royal waiting room, was constructed along Eastbourne Terrace. The Great Western Hotel was built along Praed Street, and opened in conjunction with the new Paddington Station in 1854.


Expansion in the twentieth century

Brunel’s station was large enough to cope with the expansion of the Great Western Railway over the next 50 years. By the early 20th century new accommodation for increasing amounts of both traffic and employees was needed. Ongoing works from 1904 saw the footprint of Paddington Station increase, a more defined access area known as ‘The Lawn’ was created and more office space was created by extending the Company’s offices along Eastbourne Terrace. Major changes included the building of ‘Span 4’ between 1913 and 1916 which increased the number of platforms at the station, and today covers platforms 9 to 16. It was designed by the GWR’s engineer, W Armstrong, with architectural features to match Brunel’s original roof as closely as possible. Further expansion of station buildings took place in the 1930s, including a striking new ‘art deco’ office block on the west side of the station, which also remodelled passenger facilities in ‘The Lawn’.


Updating for the twenty first century

During the 1990s Paddington Station was extensively refurbished, with the glass in Brunel’s original roof replaced with polycarbonate glazing panels, the restoration of Digby-Wyatt’s ornamental tracing and significant improvements to The Lawn. A proposal to take down ‘Span 4’ to accommodate facilities for Crossrail was controversial. Between 2009 and 2010 the Edwardian roof was instead restored by Network Rail and Crossrail facilities are now housed underneath Eastbourne Terrace.

Page first created: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Page last updated: Saturday, February 25, 2012


31 August: The Great Western Railway Act is passed, giving permission to build a railway between London and Bristol.



4 June: A temporary station is opened in Paddington at Bishop’s Bridge Road.



30 June: the Great Western Railway London to Bristol main line is opened throughout.



13 June: Queen Victoria makes her first railway journey from Paddington to Slough.



29 May: Paddington ‘New’ Station is fully opened 9 June: the Great Western Hotel (designed by Philip Hardwicke) at Paddington Station is opened.



1 October: Paddington Station is converted to mixed gauge.



20 May: the last broad gauge express trains depart from Paddington marking the end of the GWR broad gauge.



-1915 Paddington Station is enlarged.



11 November: the war memorial on platform 1 is unveiled to commemorate Great Western Railway employees killed during World War 1.



- 1935 Paddington Station is further enlarged and re-modelled.



11 June: the last regular scheduled steam train departs from Paddington.



The electrification of the line between Paddington to Bristol and Swansea is announced.



14 July: Network Rail and the Department for Transport announce a £5billion, decade-long improvement programme for the Great Western mainline.

Façade of Bristol Temple Meads Joint Station

Bristol Temple Meads Station | Stations

Built as the western terminus of the Great Western Railway’s main line from London to Bristol, Bristol Temple Meads station has undergone many changes as it outgrew Brunel’s original building and became the railway gateway to the West Country. 
Read more


Widening of Line Maidenhead to Didcot - Maidenhead Bridge Sections and Plans

Maidenhead Bridge | Bridges and Viaducts

At the time it was built, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s railway bridge over the River Thames at Maidenhead boasted the flattest yet widest brick constructed arches in the world. 
Read more


Box Tunnel - Cross Section Tunnel Number 1

Box Tunnel, Box, Wiltshire | Tunnels

At the time of opening, Brunel’s Box Tunnel was the longest railway tunnel ever built. Controversial from the start, its problematic construction delayed the completion of the Great Western Railway’s London to Bristol route until June 1841. Today it is one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s most celebrated structures. 
Read more


Great Western Railway crest

Great Western Railway | Companies

The Great Western Railway built the main line which still operates today between London and Bristol. In appointing Isambard Kingdom Brunel as its chief engineer, together they pushed the boundaries of railway engineering which can still be seen in today’s infrastructure.
Read more


Signature of IK Brunel, 1852

Isambard Kingdom Brunel  (1806 - 1859) | People

Isambard Kingdom Brunel is celebrated as an engineering genius. Brunel’s Great Western Railway was designed for speed and efficiency, and his daring schemes and record breaking structures are still a vital part of today’s railway infrastructure. He combined considerable ingenuity with immense boldness of vision in his sometimes controversial achievements.
Read more

Comments & Suggestions (4)

Your comments and suggestions are welcomed. Please note that all submissions will be reviewed and will be dealt with in accordance with our terms and conditions of website use. We reserve the right not to publish any comments or suggestions. Your [user name] will be displayed as provided and all personal information will be dealt with in accordance with the terms of our privacy policy. Please ensure that you have read our terms and conditions of website use and our privacy policy in full prior to submitting any comments or suggestions.


 brilliant, really interesting.

Posted by barry kopelman, Friday, March 2, 2012.

 I left my mind in Paddington. Best regards fron Montevideo, Uruguay.

Posted by Alfredo Vivalda, Thursday, February 27, 2014.

 Excellent article and the drawings of the ironworks compelling. My favourite station on the infastructure.

Posted by Mark Pickard, Monday, July 27, 2015.

 I have an old poster advertising The Electric Telegraph -" instantaneous communication between Paddington and Slough" at The Great Western Railway and "The Telegraph Cottage" close to Slough Station. Admission - One Shilling I would like to know when this dates to and if it would be of any interest or worth - or if you could point me to someone who would be able to shed somelight on thos? Many thanks, Sandra Allan

Posted by Sandra Allan, Tuesday, June 18, 2013.

Add a comment


Please enter your name


Please enter a valid email address

Your comment (500 character limit)  

Please enter your comment


See also

Façade of Bristol Temple Meads Joint Station

Bristol Temple Meads Station

Built as the western terminus of the Great Western Railway’s main line from London to Bristol, Bristol Temple Meads station has undergone many changes as it outgrew Brunel’s original building and became the railway gateway to the West Country.   Read more

Related Links

Network Rail Links

External Links

Merchandise advert