Leeds Railway Station not only provides a transport hub for the city, but also a striking piece of architecture that can often go unnoticed.
It is located in the heart of the city, providing easy rail links throughout the north of England and the rest of the UK. An estimated 110,000 passengers use the station every day, but what is the history behind this bustling building?
Leeds Railway Station as it is known today was constructed using two existing stations. It became evident that the city was in need of a bigger facility, and the easiest option at the time was to make use of the two stations already serving local residents.
Wellington and New Station were deemed too small to deal with the ever growing number of passengers travelling to and from Leeds. They were opened in 1846 and 1869, respectively, before merging to become Leeds Railway Station in 1938.
The facility was formed by joining the former Wellington and New Station sites using a northern concourse. It was an opulent structure, with an art deco tall panel ceiling, lighting pendants and square skylights.
One of the major draws of Leeds Railway Station was its proximity to the Queens Hotel, which still remains next door to this very day. The hotel was originally constructed by the Midland Railway company back in 1863 to complement the nearby station, and provide a convenient place for passengers to stay.
However, the station as it stands today has undergone two significant refurbishments. The first was carried out in 1967, when the entire structure was rebuilt. All the services previously located at Leeds Central Station were moved to this location, which required some significant changes to be made.
Passengers were starting to demand more from stations than somewhere to simply wait for their train. As a result, the refurbished Leeds Railway Station included shops, coffee shops and other facilities to keep people occupied.
It was also in 1967 that Leeds Railway Station welcomed a new and more modern roof. This was much stronger and better supported than the previous roof, ensuring the station could stand the test of time.
The railway arches beneath what was New Station are still very much in use today. They were important for local industry as they provided storage space, and are currently used as premises for a number of local businesses.
Leeds Railway Station was significantly rebuilt again between 1999 and 2002. This brought the Wellington side of the station back into use, while increasing the number of platforms in use from 12 to 17. Efforts were also made to restore the art deco theme of the northern concourse, which was largely lost during the previous refurbishment works.
Even to this day, Leeds Railway Station is evolving and welcoming new features to make passenger travel more comfortable. Many shops can be found inside the station entrance, as well as eateries, cafes and takeaway food kiosks. A first class lounge is available, while there are easy access points for wheelchair users, such as lifts and ramps.
Leeds Railway Station is as architecturally interesting as it is busy, making it an important part of this bustling West Yorkshire city.