A Grand Opening

“The Midland Station and Hotel in Bradford must now take rank amongst the leading railway centres in the Kingdom.”  -The Bradford Daily Telegraph, Saturday, March 1, 1890

After a period of over five years the long arduous toil was almost finished.   The brainchild of Mathew Thompson, former Mayor of Bradford, the  new Midland Station was nearing  completion, and the Bradford Telegraph proudly showcased  both expertly engraved images of the Station and offered laudatory descriptions of this premier development.   Although the Station was officially opened in March 1890 it would be a further three months before the highly elaborate internal features of the new ” Midland  Hotel” would be completed to the Midland Railway Company’s exacting standards.
As early as June 3, 1890 The Bradford Daily Telegraph,  closely followed  by the Bradford Observer,  promoted the new hotel by publishing menus that would tempt the most discerning palate.  Each day a different mouth- watering Table D’ Hote Dinner would be published.  Also available were Luncheons A La Carte and Afternoon Teas for the ladies between four and six o’clock.
Interestingly, just as the hotel opened, Mr Henry Irving, the great Victorian actor gave a recital of Macbeth at St George’s Hall with Miss Ellen Terry on  June 9, 1890. If as I suspect Henry had taken rooms at the new Midland, he may have succumbed  to the  ”Filet de Presale Roti”  on offer that evening,  possibly followed by the very tempting Glace Mandarin for dessert.  It is interesting  to think that as the Midland Hotel was to witness Henry Irving’s last scene, so too he was there at the birth of this fine Victorian Railway Hotel.

Below is the fully transcribed description of both the new hotel and station.

THE ILLUSTRATED WEEKLY TELEGRAPH

Saturday, March 1, 1890

On Sunday if the official arrangements can be carried out the new Midland Railway Station in Bradford will be thrown open for public traffic.

The work of constructing the new building has been long and tedious but it has perhaps suffered nothing to this respect. It is about three years since the work of erecting the station itself commenced but the operations which formed a necessary preliminary were begun two or three years previous even to that and it may be stated roundly that the work has extended over a period of some five or six years.

Bradfordians will remember the row of shops, inns, warehouses, little and big which formed the inartistic fringe of one side of Cheapside and lower Kirkgate. These of course have long since been demolished and the refuse carted away whilst many thousands of tons of earth and rock have been excavated and drained in preparation for what is one of the finest improvements in the whole range of local railway enterprise. Those who remember the locality in the old days and contrast it with the structure which now stands on the same site cannot avoid being struck with the remarkable results which architectural and engineering ingenuity and financial resources have achieved.

The Midland Station and Hotel in Bradford must now take rank amongst the leading railway centres in the Kingdom, whilst Bradford has reason to be proud of this late addition to its structural features. The hotel which is not yet ready for occupation, is of course the most prominent feature in the block of buildings. The main frontage of the premises is towards Kirkgate, on which thoroughfare they present a façade 300 ft in length. The hotel proper is situate at the corner being both Cheapside and Kirkgate and has a frontage of 176 ft. The ensemble which it presents is very handsome and attractive.

The design is Renaissance in character, the exterior walls in massive looking ashlar. The hotel is five storeys in height and contains about sixty bedrooms. Great attention has been paid to the ornamental carving of the building, the cornices being very massive and ornate. The great feature in the Kirkgate frontage is the octagonal tower which springs from a boldly treated square porch, and is surmounted by a dome and finial.

There are two entrances to the hotel, the principal one being from Kirkgate and the other from Cheapside while there is also direct communication between the hotel and the station platform. The Kirkgate doorway is handsome, the carved pillars on each side giving it an imposing and artistic appearance. The interior of the hotel is as yet in a backward state, and it is not likely to be ready for opening before May. Sufficient progress has however been made to show that the building will take precedence of any other in Bradford.

The entrance hall is lined with white Sicilian marble, and with a tessellated pavement. The staircase is of white marble, and the walls here as well as in the main corridors are lined with white marble slabs relieved by bands of rouge roi marble and plinth and dado of blue marble. Each of the main rooms is panelled in a different style – the coffee room being in oak, the reading room in mahogany, the smoke room in polished walnut, and so on – the only exception being the restaurant, which is most artistically fitted with Burmantoft tiles.

The front of the station consists of a plain but massive and boldly treated wall, broken by pilasters, windows and entrances for passenger and vehicular traffic. Behind this in line with the rear wall of the hotel, is the screen wall, enriched with pilasters and carving, and surmounted by a stone balustrade with a neat little octagonal tower at the corner. The whole of the space between the two walls is covered in with glass and forms admirable accommodation for carriages and general traffic. There are separate entrances to the first and third class booking departments with prominent notice boards intimating “which is which” and there are also direct means of ingress and egress to the platform apart from the booking departments.

The first-class booking hall has a vestibule at each end and both apartments are a great contrast to the bare and draughty offices hitherto in use. The first class hall is 31ft by 20ft and third class 45ft by 26ft, the first containing two and the third three ticket windows. The third class booking hall leads into a spacious well lighted general waiting room of similar dimensions, and the excellence of the lighting and heating arrangements of all the apartments is very marked. A cloak room, parcel office ( not yet built owing to the old refreshment room being still in use, porter’s room, lavatories &c., are also comprised in the block of station offices which front Kirkgate. Inside these offices is a broad spacious platform, where huge crowds of intending travellers can be accommodated.

On the left are the hotel and other waiting and refreshment rooms, and on the right is a high massive wall, whilst the interior is filled in with rails and platforms. The width of the working part of the station from wall to wall is 174feet is spanned by a handsome iron and glass roof, divided into eight bays band supported on iron columns of the Corinthian type. These columns are splendid specimens of casting work, each being a single cast, 32ft. in height. Together with the roofing generally they have been executed by Messrs Butler of Stanningley. There are in all six platforms, five of them being 450ft, in length each, and the sixth situate at the Cheapside end, 200ft. Adding all the platform space in the station together, s understood in railway management, and the entire length of platform accommodation is equal to about three quarters of a mile.

The entire length of the station from the booking offices to the end of the platforms is 510 feet. At the departure end of the station School Street is carried over the line by a bridge, and this virtually terminates the central enclosure, but the platforms extend for some distance beyond, and are covered over with glass roof in keeping with the roof of the main interior.

The accommodation for trains may be detailed in simple language as follows: there is first the station wall, then a single line of rails, then a platform 32feet broad, then a double line of rails, then a central 40 feet platform, then another double line of rails, next a 32feet platform, a single line of rails, and the outer station walls. The station master’s office stands at the head of the central platform and barriers of pitch pine for ticket and general traffic purposes are provided.

On the side of the station next to Cheapside are waiting rooms and the offices usually provided for the accommodation of the company’s servants. They include a lamp room 21ft by 14ft., foot warmer house 21ft by 16ft, inspector’s office 21ft by 14ft, gentlemen’s waiting room 21ft by 16ft, ladies first class waiting room 25ft by 18ft., ladies third class waiting room 25ft by 21ft, third class refreshment room 24ft by 24ft and first class refreshment room 18ft by 28ft. The rooms are all very lofty, admirably lighted, and well ventilated, and are furnished with polished pitch pine.

The first class ladies waiting rooms contain lavatories and other conveniences on a much more elaborate scale than is usual in English stations. The walls of the third class refreshment room, like those in the general waiting rooms in the principal front of the station, are lined with tiles of a neat and warm looking type. In the first class refreshment room the furnishings are of polished walnut, and there is a pretty combination of tiles and tiled dado round the apartment, whilst the floor is laid with random mosaic. The refreshment rooms are connected by means of a lift with the kitchen of the hotel, and all the arrangements are of the most convenient and modern character.

The heating arrangements of the various waiting rooms are on the steam cool principle, and the same boiler which performs the cooking and heating of the hotel provides the steam for the heating apparatus in the station rooms. The platform space in the station is to be lit with electricity from a plant supplied and erected by the Midland Company’s own electrical engineers, under the superintendence of Mr Langdon, the number of discs erected being 24. Provision is also made for lighting with gas when necessary, and several reflectors are erected on the station walls for that purpose. Between the Cheapside wall and the roadway, in which space a vast amount of excavating had to be done, is the horse and carriage dock, with a covered stage for fish traffic, and a separate entrance to this part of the station is provided in Cheapside. The relative positions of the different portions of the new premises will be better understood by a reference to the accompanying sketch plan.