19th Century English Architecture of Prisons and Railway Stations

Topics: 19th century, Prison, Train station Pages: 6 (1947 words) Published: February 16, 2013
Essay Topic
Topic 15
* The 19th century heralded the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, which wrought unprecedented socioeconomic and technological changes in England, transforming it into a modern industrial society. This essay examines the impact that these changes have had on the design and construction of two new building types, namely the railway station and prison. * This essay argues that the design and construction of railway stations in England had to be adapted to the changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution, such as widespread rural-urban migration, rapid urban growth and rising affluence in English society. On the pragmatic side, station builders also had to look for alternative materials resistant to corrosion from steam and smoke emitted by locomotives. This essay also examines the social changes and penal reforms in 19th century England which caused a shift in societal perspectives towards crime and punishment, and how these impacted the design of three major prisons at that time. Railway Stations

Due to the rapid economic growth and development resulting from the Industrial Revolution, many urban areas expanded at a dizzying rate as people in the countryside flocked to towns and cities looking for employment. Historian Eric Evans notes that Glasgow grew by 46 percent in the 1810s and Manchester by 44 percent in the 1820s. Social problems such as overcrowding, congestion and crime soon followed. These changes


resulted in new functional needs and requirements for buildings. * Prior to the 19th century, trains were primarily built for transporting cargo. At the turn of the century, railway stations had to be adapted to cater to the increase in passengers travelling through England for work and leisure. They served as terminals and interchanges for many trains from the different rail companies, as well as waiting areas and temporary accommodation for passengers. From an architectural standpoint, they were important buildings because their *

construction incorporated all the major architectural movements of the 19th century, in terms of materials, style and structure. * The first English railway station at Crown Street, Liverpool (fig. 1), like all railway stations, was built mainly to provide shelter for its occupants - passengers and trains. In addition, the preceding modes of transportation – the canal and the century-old turnpike system – had specially catered architecture for its passengers; inns were used instead as departure points, relay stations and terminals. As there was no precedent for this building type, most early railway stations, including Crown Street, had their shelters constructed based on the design of sheds built for cattle and wagon. However, the style of railway station evolved in the mid-19th century, due to unprecedented urban growth in cities in England, the increasing social significance of stations and opposition to railway construction. As railway companies began to expand their networks, more people started moving to the cities. Growth in traffic and migration led to overcrowding and congestion in the cities and soon there was a need for a re-evaluation of the station designs. * Railway stations bore social significance in 19th century England as they were iconic landmarks. Driven by the idea that “the station was to the modern city what the city gate was to the ancient city”, the station’s design was the first impression that travellers got of the city/town. Rising affluence among the English due to the industrial boom meant that the public would also use the station’s design to get a feel of the city and gauge how attractive it was to live in or travel to. One such example is Euston station, universally lauded by the English public for its majestic Doric Arch entrance. As rail travel quickly became affordable for the masses in the 19th century, the design of railway stations also had to take into account class...
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