Friday, August 7, 2009
Birmingham Moor Street
Almost old, almost new
One wet Friday recently I found myself with a few minutes on my hands in the middle of Birmingham and I decided to peer inside Moor Street station. Its gabled brick structure is a standard design of the old GWR, created by their Superintendent Engineer W Y Armstrong in 1911–1914 as a kind of detached annexe to the nearby Snow Hill station, and acted as a terminus for trains from Warwickshire. It was good to see that the old building had been restored in 2002–3, and was still looking well cared for with its GWR brown paint, historically aware signage, and modern buffet facilities that don’t dominate the concourse too much.
Nowadays trains go from some more recent platforms to one side of the original station, from where they still make for Warwickshire destinations such as Stratford upon Avon, as well as London. Steam-hauled excursions depart on summer Sundays and a locomotive stands at one of the old platforms as a reminder.
This view of the station looks across the original platforms towards a building of our own era – Future Systems’ dramatic, blob-like, aluminium-disc-covered, Selfridge’s. This building is now well enough known to be no longer shocking. It’s such a familiar symbol of the rejuvenated centre of Birmingham, indeed, that the overused word ‘iconic’ has been applied to it a few times too often. It’s still a surprise to come across in this context, though, and as odd as the contrast between the steam locomotive standing insouciantly at the platform and the modern, advertisement-emblazoned omnibus beyond. The almost-shock of the nearly-new.