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The Architecture the Railways Built – Curzon Street

The Architecture the Railways Built - S3E10 - Tim Dunn at HS2 Site, Curzon Street, Birmingham

We’ve reached the last stops for Tim Dunn’s third series of The Architecture the Railways Built on Yesterday.

Tim shows us the Grade I listed Curzon Street station in Birmingham in the final episode, ahead of its transformation into part of the new terminus for high speed railway HS2.

It’s at this site, in March 2019, where engineers found what was thought to be the world’s oldest railway roundhouse. HS2 made the discovery during the construction of the new Birmingham Curzon Street station.

Excavation of a Victorian railway roundhouse discovered at Curzon Street in Birmingham
The discovery at Curzon Street

HS2 said in a statement at the time that the roundhouse sat adjacent to the old Curzon Street station – the first railway station serving the city centre.

The turntable within the roundhouse would turn around the engines so trains could go back down the line. The roundhouse also stored engines, where they were serviced.

It said the railway was “built during a period of great significance and growth for the city. Built to a design by the 19th century engineer Robert Stephenson, the roundhouse was operational on 12 November 1837 – meaning the recently discovered building is likely to predate the current titleholder of ‘world’s oldest’ in Derby by almost two years.”

It said the railway’s 1847 roundhouse at the southern end of the line is today better known as the famous Roundhouse music venue in Camden, London.

Anthony Blakeway, a track maintenance technician at Network Rail working at the site at the time of the discovery, said: “[The dig was] on what was effectively waste ground also a burial site from an old graveyard from what we have seen in the past few months so hopefully they will try to uncover the second roundhouse that the old plans show but over the years it’s probably already been dug out and removed.”

Click here to see drawings that show the location of the roundhouse and here to read the full story.

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