I’m sure somebody out there may well tell me that I’m wrong, but I reckon there are thirteen stations in London that can be regarded as a main line terminus.
London’s railway network has evolved over many years and is more complicated than you might think – but I’m sticking to thirteen.
Four of those appear on the original Monopoly board, and Liverpool St is one of them. (If you can’t remember the other three, they were King’s Cross, Marylebone and Fenchurch St).
It’s the terminus for train companies that operate mainly to the north-east of the capital to counties such as Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, and is the third busiest in the UK after Waterloo and Victoria.
The statistics for 2015/16 show that sixty six and a half million entries/exits were recorded, and that doesn’t include the underground which has four lines converging underneath the main line station (The Circle, Hammersmith & City, Central and Metropolitan Lines).
It was originally built in 1875 as the terminus for the Great Eastern Railway and extended in 1895.
During an air raid on 13th June 1917 the station was hit by three bombs, two of which exploded, killing 162 people and injuring more than 400. It was the deadliest single raid in Britain during the First World War.
Above the concourse there’s also a war memorial dedicated to employees of the Great Eastern Railway who lost their lives during that conflict. I didn’t count them but there were over a thousand who gave the supreme sacrifice.
The memorial was unveiled by Field Marshall Henry Wilson on 22nd June 1922. On returning home after the unveiling he was assassinated by two members of the Irish Republican Army, which prompted yet another memorial.
In the run up to the outbreak of the Second World War, thousands of Jewish refugee children arrived from across Europe in an operation called Kindertransport.
One of the people responsible for this rescue operation was Nicholas Winton, who I vividly remember seeing on TV the night Esther Rantzen exposed his heroic achievements and reunite him with some of those he rescued. It was one of those profound moments that made the cost of the license fee worthwhile.
There is a memorial to the Kindertransport event outside the main entrance to the station (and another one inside).
The station was once again hit by bombing during WWII but as far as I know there were no serious casualties.
It was hit yet again in 1993 when the IRA’s Bishopsgate bombing inflicted serious damage to the glass roof and had to close temporarily.
Liverpool St is one of the stations on the new Crossrail Line (to be called the Elizabeth Line when it opens fully in 2019), and during excavation and construction work a mass burial ground dating from the 17th century was discovered.
The remains of hundreds of people were found, and a full scale dig is starting to unearth even more remains, which promises to give us an even more interesting account of what life would have been like in this part of London.
Just outside the station is a modern office and retail development centred on Broadgate Circle which until 1986 was Broad Street Station, another railway terminal built for the North London Railway and the London and North-Western Railway. I did say that London’s rail infrastructure wasn’t straightforward didn’t I?