Carlisle Citadel Station
Court Square, Carlisle, Cumbria, UK
Sir William Tite
Blyth & Cunningham
1846 - 1848, opened 10th September 1847, 1873 - 1876, 1878 - 1881
ICE reference number
Carlisle Citadel Station was constructed originally for the Lancaster & Carlisle line and the Caledonian Railway, the heraldic devices of which are displayed on the portico. Eventually it served seven different railway companies, and remains an important hub in the national rail network’s west coast main line. Major refurbishment works on the roof and platforms are due for completion in 2018.
As it is close to the England/Scotland border, Carlisle was an important stop in the 19th century, with a station at London Road (opened 1836) for the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway and another at Crown Street (1843) for the Maryport & Carlisle Railway. Carlisle Citadel Station, on the south side of Court Square, was constructed to serve two further lines, the Lancaster & Carlisle Railway and the Caledonian Railway.
The station was designed by architect William Tite (1798-1873, knighted 1869) in a mixture of Tudor and Gothic styles. It cost £53,000 and was constructed 1846-8, opening to rail traffic on 10th September 1847. At that time, it had just one long through platform with a bay at each end.
The main buildings are 143.3m long overall, forming a multi-bay sandstone facade of mostly two storeys capped by a row of slate roofs at differing levels. The entrance portico is composed of five pointed arches with buttresses between. Over each arch are roundels — the central one bearing the Royal arms of Queen Victoria, flanked by those of the Lancaster & Carlisle and the Caledonian. The outer plaques, intended for the Maryport & Carlisle and the Newcastle & Carlisle, were left blank as these railways did not contribute to the station's construction cost.
To the right (north) of the portico, between the entrance and the station offices, is a square clock tower with octagonal lantern. Left (south) of the portico are the single-storey waiting and refreshment rooms. Interior details included Tudor and Gothic style fireplaces and linen-fold wood-panelled doors.
Owing to the complexities of operating the station and its timetables under the auspices of two, and ultimately seven, railway companies, a joint management committee was set up. The Carlisle Citadel Station Agreement was drawn up on 10th May 1857, and established under the Carlisle Citadel Station Act of 22nd July 1861. It had eight directors, four each from the railway boards of the Caledonian and the London & North Western — the Lancaster & Carlisle had become part of the London & North Western in 1859.
To improve freight services, the Carlisle Goods Traffic Committee was formed under the Carlisle Citadel Station Act of 21st July 1873. The London & North Western, Midland, Caledonian and Glasgow & South Western each had two directors on the committee. To minimise danger to passengers, a goods avoiding line was constructed to divert freight trains around the station.
The Act also authorised "enlarging and improving facilities" at the station. Works were undertaken in 1873-6 and 1878-81. During the refurbishment, the opening of the Midland Railway's Settle & Carlisle line brought additional freight trains (from August 1875) and passenger services (from April 1876) to the station.
The improvement works were completed on 20th July 1881. By that time, Carlisle Citadel Station was used by seven railways (London & North Western, London North Eastern, Midland, Caledonian, North British, Glasgow & South Western and Maryport & Carlisle). To complicate matters further, each company had its own booking and parcels offices.
Additional tracks, buildings and platforms were constructed. A new island between the tracks, with two-storey buildings and a platform on each side, increased the number of 400m long through platforms to three. Five terminal bay platforms were also constructed. A new overarching footbridge connected the through platforms inside the train shed. Below the platforms, an undercroft contained a network of passageways, offices, service rooms and staff accommodation (some of which are said to be haunted).
However, the most significant element of the upgrade was the installation of an iron and glass roof behind the station buildings, originally spanning some 85m across the platforms and tracks. It was designed by engineers Blyth & Cunningham of Edinburgh.
As constructed, the roof covered an area of more than 2.6 hectares. The structure consisted of 26 deep lattice (double Warren) girders spanning transversely at 12.2m centres. Each girder had 10 panels, stiffened end posts and a flat bottom tie. The girders supported a series of slender balanced cantilever half-truss hooped beams at approximately 3.7m centres, spanning along the tracks. The whole roof was glazed, possibly using Rendel’s Patent Indestructible System. Its ornate timber end screens featured Gothic-style glazing bars.
In 1922, the seven operating companies were absorbed into the London Midland & Scottish Railway Company. Then, during World War II (1939-45) the roof glazing was painted black as an air raid precaution. Nevertheless, lack of maintenance had led to large areas of the roof becoming unsafe.
In 1957-8, the south western half of the roof, some of its north eastern half and all of the end screens were dismantled and removed. The massive supporting wall to the south west side of the station, on the far side of the tracks, was left in place. The wall is of sandstone and linked to the main buildings by a series of arched tunnels in the undercroft.
In November 1972, the station was Grade II* listed. Its citation notes: "The building by Tite is among the most important early major railway stations in Britain". The now freestanding retaining wall (NY401555 to NY403553) was listed separately in April 1994 as Grade II.
On 1st May 1984, the goods avoiding line was closed. It was not dismantled and could be re-opened if required to relieve freight congestion.
Between October 2010 and March 2011, improvements were made to the waiting, meeting and seating areas of the station. From 13th July 2013 to 7th April 2014, in a £1.5m refurbishment project, station accessibility was improved with lift (elevator) refurbishment and step-free access to all platforms. A disused subway was also renovated.
The remaining bays of the station's Victorian era iron and glass roof were by now in a fragile condition, and glass falls had resulted in platform closures. On 30th November 2015, a £14.7m two-phase programme of work commenced to reconstruct the ailing roof and rebuild the station’s eight platforms.
The first phase is replacing the roof, at a cost of £9.5m. A 'crash deck’ of scaffolding has been installed to ensure public safety while the work is being carried out. The new roof glazing is made of ETFE (ethene-co-tetrafluoroethene), a transparent plastic material also used for the roofs of the new stations at Manchester Victoria and Birmingham New Street.
Once the new roof is completed, the second phase (costing £5.2m) will begin. This phase covers platform upgrades with new surfacing. Work is expected to be completed in 2018.
Contractor: John Stephenson
Roof contractor (2015-8): Galliford Try
Platform contractor (2015-8): Story Rail
Accessibility measures (2013-4): Spencer Rail
"The London, Midland and Scottish Railway. Volume 2 Preston to Carlisle" by Stanley C. Jenkins and Martin Loader, Amberley Publishing Limited, October 2015
"The London, Midland and Scottish Railway. Volume 3 Leeds to Carlisle" by Stanley C. Jenkins and Martin Loader, Amberley Publishing Limited, January 2016