Saturday, 13 July 2013

Oxford and Cambridge - things which are the same, things which are different

Things which are the same

  • Both are ancient university cities (although Oxford is more ancient);
  • If you want something done in Oxford, say it happens in Cambridge (and vice versa);
  • Students wear gowns for 'formal hall' in both cities;
  • You are likely to see stupid American (or Japanese) tourists walking through the city asking where the University is, when it is all around them;
  • The railway station is in an inconvenient place in both cities, as a Victorian attempt from University management to discourage students from using it to travel anywhere during term time;
  • You 'come up' and 'go down' to both universities regardless of the direction of travel;
  • If you are a bad boy or girl, you are 'sent down' or 'rusticated';
  • Rowing is more important that football or cricket;
  • A Bachelor of Arts is awarded in first degrees regardless of the subject. These become Master of Arts degrees provided graduates stay out of prison;
  • A Master of Science is awarded in second degrees regardless of the subject;
  • A Ph.D is a D.Phil;
  • There are three terms of eight weeks, even less than teachers work.
Things which are different
  • At Oxford, the city consists of the University plus heavy industry. In Cambridge, the city consists of the University, with high-tech industry being a modern development;
  • In Oxford, people put the pole in from the round end of the punt. In Cambridge, people put the pole in from the square end of the punt;
  • In Oxford the main river is called the Is is (sorry Isis) rather than the Thames, as it is called elsewhere. In Cambridge, it's called the Cam as elsewhere in Fenland;
  • In Cambridge, the Cam is part of a number of colleges. In Oxford, the Isis lurks beyond the colleges;
  • In Oxford, the second river is called the Charwell rather than the Cherwell as it is in the rest of Oxfordshire. How silly (says he with a similar name). Cambridge has no second river;
  • In Oxford a quadrangle is called a quad. For some reason in Cambridge it is called a court;
  • In Oxford a cleaner is called a scout (or scite, if the student went to a public school). Cambridge, more logically, calls such a person a bedder;
  • In Oxford, achieving a first in your first year exams can only bring about a scholarship (which earns the student £60, the same as it was in John Wesley's day). In Cambridge the same applies, but a first in first year and final exams can be referred to as a 'double first';
  • In Oxford the terms are Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity. In Cambridge they are Michaelmas, Lent and Easter;
  • Oxford has a pub no-one can find called the Turf Tavern. Cambridge doesn't
Not that I am biased.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Uckfield to Lewes

BACKGROUND

A statement from the Department for Transport on May 9 2013:

Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin has asked Network Rail to examine if re-opening the Lewes - Uckfield railway line will meet the demand for the future growth in rail travel.
The Government’s Rail Investment Strategy already requires additional rail capacity to be delivered between Uckfield and London Bridge by 2019. This is likely to be achieved by adding more carriages to trains running on the route.

Now a new study commissioned by the Secretary of State is looking at rail provision between London and the south coast further into the future and as part of its terms of reference will re-examine the case for a new line linking the Sussex towns.

Patrick McLoughlin said:

“I am alive to local interest in re-opening this line and wider concerns about rail capacity between London and the south coast and this is why I have commissioned this study.

“It will help us to understand exactly what the issues are and build upon previous work that has looked at these questions.”

The Secretary of State will visit Lewes station on Thursday, May 9, where he will meet local MP and Transport Minister Norman Baker to discuss rail provision in the constituency.

The study will feed into decisions on the future funding of the railways. The current Rail Investment Strategy outlines funding priorities until 2019 and this work would inform any business case for changes to rail provision in the area beyond that date.

The line linking the two towns was closed in 1969 but there is local appetite to see it brought back into use.

Recent moves to devolve decision making for local transport schemes will also give greater freedom to local councils and enterprise partnerships to determine priorities and allocate funding accordingly.

Richard Eccles, Network Rail director of network strategy and planning, said:

“The railway between London and Brighton is one of the busiest routes in the country and there is very little space available to run additional trains. As the number of passengers continues to grow, it is right that we look at a wide variety of options which may help provide extra capacity in future, ensuring that the rail network can continue to support and drive economic growth in the region.

“We are already reviewing the options for capacity enhancements to Brighton and the south coast corridor and this work will feed into a Sussex route study due for development in 2014. Within this we will include a review of the value that a re-opened Lewes - Uckfield line could play in meeting future needs.”

As recently as 2008, a study into reopening the line between Lewes and Uckfield showed a benefit to cost ratio (BCR) of 0.79. The usual rule for projects in England is that they must have a BCR of 2.0 or above to stand a chance of any funding. The idea disappeared rapidly on to the back burner. However, this study's remit was merely into reopening the line, not the wider benefits.

SO WHAT ARE THE WIDER BENEFITS? AND THE CHALLENGES AROUND THESE?

Funny you asked that. Here's a map which shows what we are talking about:

(courtesy Network Rail, from the PDF above)

This is about considerably more than reopening eight miles of track. There are a lot of facts which need to be taken into consideration:

  • If you are going south from Uckfield, you are more likely to want to go towards Brighton than Eastbourne. Indeed, this changed the alignment north of Lewes in 1864 from one similar to the one shown above, to one approaching Lewes from the north to the east of the station. However, that route is overbuilt and within a conservation area, so is considered to be impractical.
  • Three peak trains per hour to London Bridge start from Tunbridge Wells. These could start from Lewes and beyond, and go via the 'Spa Valley Railway'.
  • East Croydon is a huge bottleneck, and more trains cannot go through there without major investment.
  • The Brighton Main Line is at capacity, with a two track section from south of Balcombe Tunnel Junction (south of Three Bridges station in Crawley) to Brighton. There is a need to create one or more diversionary routes, not only to expand capacity but to create contingency: the infrastructure is a little fragile. Quadrification of the dual track section is considered to be too expensive due to the number of tunnels and viaducts.
  • South of Hurst Green, the railway to Uckfield is not electrified. This leads the debate into a question of AC/DC . Or even AC/DC . In essence, the Southern Railway's model of an electrified third rail is susceptible to cold weather, and more expensive to run. Which model of electrification would you adopt, if any?
  • 'The Lavender Line', a piece of preserved railway, runs along a mile and a half of the proposed route.
  • The Wealden Line campaign group were instrumental in pushing the case for the Lewes-Uckfield reopening. Now they are opposed to pushing for that reopening, believing that it would be rejected for the same reasons as the original study in 2008; they promote a much bigger BML2 scheme, with the objective of creating a second Brighton to London main line.
  • A significant proportion of the traffic from Eastbourne and Lewes is heading for Haywards Heath and Gatwick Airport. It's therefore not practical to divert this traffic via Uckfield.
  • Leading on from the point above, traffic arriving and departing from Lewes is over and above the current traffic. The station is sufficiently busy that trains for Uckfield would have to depart from Brighton, Seaford, Newhaven or Eastbourne, or a purpose built siding close to Lewes.
  • Various parts of Hurst Green to Uckfield are single track.
  • Hurst Green to Uckfield is limited to 70mph.
LOOKING AT THESE POINTS IN TURN...

If you are going south from Uckfield, you are more likely to want to go towards Brighton than Eastbourne. Indeed, this changed the alignment north of Lewes in 1864 from one similar to the one shown above, to one approaching Lewes from the north to the east of the station. However, that route is overbuilt and within a conservation area, so is considered to be impractical.
 
BML2 have the idea of a tunnel to bypass Lewes. While this creates faster services from Brighton to Uckfield and beyond, there's one issue. It bypasses Lewes. Norman Baker, Lewes MP, Transport Minister and supporter of reopening Uckfield to Lewes doesn't like the idea of bypassing the major town in his constituency. 

Mark Townend has a much simpler idea - the Lewes Loop. This takes the line to the south of Lewes, then arrives at Lewes station from the east.

(copyright Mark Townend, used with permission)

Operational reliability may be improved by dualling the loop - whether it would be required, especially in the first place, depends entirely upon the service pattern adopted.

Three peak trains per hour to London Bridge start from Tunbridge Wells. These could start from Lewes and beyond, and go via the 'Spa Valley Railway'.

Once you start diverting via Tunbridge Wells, Lewes to London times become quite long, and it's probably wouldn't be the route of choice for most commuters. However, it has to be remembered that the A26 from Lewes to Tunbridge Wells is very busy at peak hours, and reinstating a rail link is likely to be beneficial.
The Spa Valley Railway is a preserved railway between the Uckfield to London Bridge line at Eridge, and a newly-built Tunbridge Wells West station. There is nothing - except a Sainsbury's toilet block, which Sainsbury's will move if the railway returns - preventing the running of through trains to Tunbridge Wells Central and London. The original Tunbridge Wells West station - a listed building - has now become a restaurant, but it is debatable as to whether a station is needed there with Tunbridge Wells Central just over half a mile away.

The line from Tunbridge Wells to Eridge was always single track, but to run six peak trains per hour (three each way to and from Lewes and beyond) would need passing loops.

And what of the Spa Valley Railway? Well done folks - you should be congratulated for returning a service. You should be compensated handsomely - and told to go and play choo-choos somewhere else. This is a regional asset which should never been closed, not an opportunity to flirt with nostalgia. If we want to deliver this programme in any way, shape or form, we cannot afford to be sentimental.

East Croydon is a huge bottleneck, and more trains cannot go through there without major investment.

This is undoubtedly true, but I'm not sure how relevant it is. Even if you could - somehow - route another four trains in each direction through East Croydon, they would need to terminate somewhere. It's hard to see how that 'somewhere' could be London Bridge or Victoria. BML2 propose a route avoiding East Croydon, but this is controversial for a number of reasons: Croydon is a major destination in itself, taking over the old line from Selsdon to Elmers End - a mile of which is used by Tramlink - may not be practical, and it is necessary to build Crossrail-style tunnels to find somewhere to terminate the trains. For now, we should go with extending the existing trains southwards and creating the new Uckfield to Lewes and Eridge to Tunbridge Wells routes. It would need a Crossrail project to sort East Croydon out.

The Brighton Main Line is at capacity, with a two track section from south of Balcombe Tunnel Junction (south of Three Bridges station in Crawley) to Brighton. There is a need to create one or more diversionary routes, not only to expand capacity but to create contingency: the infrastructure is a little fragile. Quadrification of the dual track section is considered to be too expensive due to the number of tunnels and viaducts.

If the Arundel Chord were to be built as well, trains from Bognor and Littlehampton would have a sensible diversionary route when the Brighton Main Line is closed. It doesn't mean you can run more trains - I refer the honourable lady/gentleman to the point I made regarding East Croydon in the previous paragraph.

South of Hurst Green, the railway to Uckfield is not electrified. This leads the debate into a question of AC/DC . Or even AC/DC . In essence, the Southern Railway's model of an electrified third rail is susceptible to cold weather, and more expensive to run. Which model of electrification would you adopt, if any? 

This one isn't hard, although it caused a lot of debate on a forum recently. When you electrify, it has to be AC. I'm indebted to Mark Townend for the map below, showing what this means.


(copyright Mark Townend, used with permission)

To those who say that such a model enforces the use of dual-voltage trains - you are correct. Without this model, the whole of Southern Region switches to overhead line equipment overnight. That is not sensible.

'The Lavender Line', a piece of preserved railway, runs along a mile and a half of the proposed route.

Compensate them, and move them on. Next.

The Wealden Line campaign group were instrumental in pushing the case for the Lewes-Uckfield reopening. Now they are opposed to pushing for that reopening, believing that it would be rejected for the same reasons as the original study in 2008; they promote a much bigger BML2 scheme, with the objective of creating a second Brighton to London main line.

Their lack of support for Uckfield-Lewes seems to me to be incredibly naive. The programme requires a phased delivery. Delivering Uckfield to Lewes does not preclude bypassing Lewes in the future. Indeed it may make delivery easier - could Brighton cope with an extra five trains each way in the peak? If not, is the answer to start some from Tunbridge Wells or Eridge? Of course not.

A significant proportion of the traffic from Eastbourne and Lewes is heading for Haywards Heath and Gatwick Airport. It's therefore not practical to divert this traffic via Uckfield.A significant proportion of the traffic from Eastbourne and Lewes is heading for Haywards Heath and Gatwick Airport. It's therefore not practical to divert this traffic via Uckfield.

I wouldn't propose doing so. It doesn't help in allowing more trains to run on the Brighton Main Line in any case, because of East Croydon, as already stated.

Leading on from the point above, traffic arriving and departing from Lewes is over and above the current traffic. The station is sufficiently busy that trains for Uckfield would have to depart from Brighton, Seaford, Newhaven or Eastbourne, or a purpose built siding close to Lewes.

Let's look at morning peak movements to and from Lewes - say 0700 - 0830 given the distance to London. An hour is insufficient to show service patterns once through trains via Uckfield are added.

Time From To
0710 Brighton Seaford
0712 Eastbourne Brighton
0717 Brighton Lewes
0722 Seaford & Hastings Victoria
0723 Lewes Brighton
0726 Brighton Lewes
0731 Haywards Heath Eastbourne
0734 Seaford Brighton
0734 Brighton Seaford
0738 Brighton Lewes
0742 Eastbourne London Bridge
0744 Brighton Ashford
0745 Lewes Brighton
0751 Seaford Brighton
0753 Victoria Ore
0755 Hastings Victoria
0758 Newhaven Brighton
0758 Brighton Seaford
0807 Ashford Brighton
0809 Brighton Ore
0819 Brighton Eastbourne
0819 Seaford Brighton
0823 Hastings Victoria
0826 Brighton Seaford
0830 Eastbourne Brighton

Now let's add in the relevant Uckfield services.


Time From To
0738 dep. Uckfield London Bridge
0804 dep. Uckfield London Bridge
0834 dep. Uckfield London Bridge
0725 arr. London Bridge Uckfield
0753 arr. London Bridge Uckfield

The 2008 study shows the Uckfield to Lewes journey time as 10 minutes by train. The obvious approach is to make the Lewes to Brighton trains London Bridge to Brighton via Uckfield, which creates this service pattern (starting the first Brighton train of the day at Uckfield):

Time From To
0707 Uckfield Brighton
0710 Brighton Seaford
0712 Eastbourne Brighton
0717 Brighton Lewes
0722 Seaford & Hastings Victoria
0726 Brighton London Bridge
via Uckfield
0731 Haywards Heath Eastbourne
0734 Seaford Brighton
0734 Brighton Seaford
0742 Eastbourne London Bridge
0744 Brighton Ashford
0737 London Bridge
via Uckfield
Brighton
0751 Seaford Brighton
0752 Brighton London Bridge
via Uckfield
0753 Victoria Ore
0755 Hastings Victoria
0758 Newhaven Brighton
0758 Brighton Seaford
0803 London Bridge
via Uckfield
Lewes
0807 Ashford Brighton
0809 Brighton Ore
0819 Brighton Eastbourne
0819 Seaford Brighton
0822 Lewes London Bridge
via Uckfield
0823 Hastings Victoria
0826 Brighton Seaford
0830 Eastbourne Brighton

Two more trains, reversing in a siding on the Newhaven branch, so no need for extra platform space. That's a result, but let's add in the relevant Tunbridge Wells services. And let's say that Uckfield to Tunbridge Wells is 30 minutes: Eridge is 16 minutes from Uckfield, so it's about right.

Time From To
0800 dep. Tunbridge Wells Charing Cross
0825 dep. Tunbridge Wells Charing Cross
0851 dep. Tunbridge Wells Charing Cross
0921 dep. Tunbridge Wells Charing Cross
0708 arr. Charing Cross Tunbridge Wells

This does result in five extra trains either arriving or departing from Lewes from 0700-0830. I'd really like to run them all to and from Brighton, but I'm not convinced there is the capacity to do so. Extending to Seaford would also be good, but this would mean platform lengthening. It's an illustration, but it dos look possible.

0717 Brighton Charing Cross via
Tunbridge Wells
0722 Seaford & Hastings Victoria
0726 Brighton London Bridge
via Uckfield
0731 Haywards Heath Eastbourne
0734 Seaford Brighton
0734 Brighton Seaford
0737 Lewes Charing Cross via
Tunbridge Wells
0742 Eastbourne London Bridge
0744 Brighton Ashford
0737 London Bridge
via Uckfield
Brighton
0750 Charing Cross via
Tunbridge Wells
Lewes
0751 Seaford Brighton
0752 Brighton London Bridge
via Uckfield
0753 Victoria Ore
0755 Hastings Victoria
0758 Newhaven Brighton
0758 Brighton Seaford
0803 London Bridge
via Uckfield
Lewes
0807 Ashford Brighton
0809 Lewes Charing Cross via
Tunbridge Wells
0809 Brighton Ore
0810 Tunbridge Wells Lewes
0819 Brighton Eastbourne
0819 Seaford Brighton
0822 Lewes London Bridge
via Uckfield
0823 Hastings Victoria
0826 Brighton Seaford
0830 Eastbourne Brighton
0830 Tunbridge Wells Lewes

Various parts of Hurst Green to Uckfield are single track.

Running the timetable above would need remedial work on that situation. According to the 2008 study, the current timetable could be run with a 1000m passing loop at Uckfield and at Hamsey, where the new line would leave the Lewes to Haywards Heath line. I suspect that the timetable above would need double track from Hamsey to Eridge to be reliable.
 
Hurst Green to Uckfield is limited to 70mph. 

According to the 2008 study, analysis took place in 2000 as to whether speeds on this section could be increased - in essence it concluded that since this is an area of sharp curves and steep gradients with frequent station stops, it is not worth increasing line speeds.

SO HOW WOULD YOU PHASE AN IMPLEMENTATION?

Phase 1: Existing service extended to Lewes, terminate in sidings south of Lewes on the Newhaven branch.
Phase 2: Lewes Loop, run the existing trains through to and from Brighton, at least at peak hours.
Phase 3: AC electrification
Phase 4: double the line to Eridge, add three peak trans per hour to and from Tunbridge Wells.

CONCLUSION

Slightly more complicated than building eight miles of track. But - at the end of the day - achievable.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

St. Pancras station - things you know and things you don't

WHO WAS ST. PANCRAS?

Well if it's a bit strange to name a station after a bear, it's even stranger to name one after an organ of the body. The obligatory bad joke over, who was he, and why is the Eurostar terminus named after him? Well, a Ten Word Wiki for him might read "Roman who converted to Christianity. Beheaded at age of 14."

OK, but what's that to do with the Euston Road? Well, it seems to be about relics. Centuries later, the Pope sent some of St. Pancras's relics to England in the hope that this would evangelise people. In return the British clergy named a number of churches after him. Including this one. Then people named the area after the church, and the rest is history.

CATHEDRALS OF STEAM

The London railway termini were an opportunity for the Victorian railway companies to show how great they were, so instead of little but picturesque stations such as were built for places such as Broadway

Photo courtesy Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway

we ended up with a massive station at St. Pancras with a Victorian Gothic hotel in front of it, like this

Photos courtesy Wikipedia

The differences between this particular cathedral of steam and its next-door neighbour, King's Cross, are numerous. The one you see immediately is that St. Pancras is build of red brick, whereas the stock London brick is yellow (even if it does come from near Peterborough, but that's another story). Remembering that King's Cross (opened 1852) is built of yellow brick, and St. Pancras (opened 1868) is much grander, one cannot help but feel that this was a Victorian willy-waving exercise. This is nicely illustrated by the aerial photograph from Webb Aviation below:


THE DEMISE OF THE TANKARD

The next point to note about the differences between the two stations - and you can see it from the aerial photograph - is that the tracks of St. Pancras are considerably higher than those of King's Cross. As you enter St. Pancras station from the road, you climb steps; as you leave King's Cross you enter a tunnel. This 'loftiness' is only visible from the air, so no willy-waving here. The reason for the height differential is a blue line which is visible on the aerial photograph if you know where to look - the Regent's Canal. The line from King's Cross tunnels under the canal, but the line from St. Pancras crosses it by bridge. This forced St. Pancras station to be built on columns, and the planners were very careful. They created columns which were a certain distance apart. (No-one knows how these columns were made, but apparently the process involved ropes, tree trunks and horse urine!) This National Railway Museum photograph illustrates the columns during the building of the station:






The distance between the columns was equal to the width of three of these:

Photo courtesy Deposit Photos

Three beer barrels. For one of the directors of the Midland Railway was this Member of Parliament:

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

who also owned the brewery in the background of the picture of Burton on Trent:


Photo courtesy www.burton-on-trent.org.uk

Michael Thomas Bass Jnr. wanted to use the new railway to transport his beer from Burton to London. Burton Ales - pale ales and bitters - had traditionally been drunk from glasses (rather than the tankards which had prevailed elsewhere) due to the quality of the local water and the lightness of the drink: customers could see that the beer was clear in the glass. The beers prevalent in London at the time - stouts and porters - did not benefit from the clear glass, and were thus served in the traditional pewter tankard. As the Burton Ale became more popular in London, so glasses replaced pewter tankards. And thus the design of the station directly influenced behaviour in pubs.

BETJEMAN, AND THE SAVING OF THE STATION AND HOTEL

The 1960s had seen the rise of the motor car, and Beeching and Marples' rationalisation of the railways. Euston (including its Great Hall and iconic arch) was demolished in 1961-2 and replaced in 1968 by this homage to blandness:


A similar fate awaited St. Pancras in 1966. The hotel had become offices ("St. Pancras Chambers") in 1935, and by the 1960s had fallen into disrepair as illustrated here. As for the station, the issue with cathedrals of steam is - well - cathedrals and steam didn't go very well together. If you were wanting to take care of the stained glass windows of York Minster, your first priority wouldn't be to coat them in an ever thickening layer of dirt. Given the line out of the station, the Midland Main Line, was not electrified (and it still isn't), when diesel trains replaced steam trains the dirt continued to accumulate. This is well illustrated below in this photo from Urban75's blog:



It seems somewhat ridiculous now with how many services use the two stations, but the idea was to route all St. Pancras services to and from King's Cross. Both the station and the hotel would have been demolished. Then John Betjeman - Poet Laureate, co-founder of the Victorian society, and enemy of everything bland - led a vociferous campaign to save the station and hotel. The words Betjeman used were "it would be a criminal folly to destroy a building whose name conjured up wondrous images of architecture and light in the mind of every Londoner". By 1967, the campaign had succeeded and both buildings were Grade I listed.

Listing buildings does not force them to be maintained - it merely means people cannot make changes without permission. It needed a grand scheme to renovate the station and the hotel.

HS1 AND THE OPENING OF EUROSTAR

When the Channel Tunnel was built between 1988 and 1994, it is not an exaggeration that France embraced the idea of High Speed Rail rather more than the UK. France built a high speed link from the tunnel to the Gare du Nord. The UK linked the tunnel into the legacy railway near Folkestone, then found a circuitous route across south London to terminate trains at Waterloo. Hardly ideal.

Then plans emerged to take the railway under south-east London to terminate near King's Cross. These plans were rejected because they would have caused environmental damage in south-east London, plus they offered no regeneration benefits. The revised plan which would take the line to St. Pancras would cross the Thames by bridge, and build stations at Stratford and at Ebbsfleet in the Thames Gateway. This was estimated in 2005 as being likely to create 50,000 jobs close to the two stations. Also, there existed the space to build a 'domestic' station at the back of the original station.

But how to do this? It's always difficult to build upon a well-known building without criticism either of pastiche, or of detracting from the original building. Alistair Lansley led the work, and the result was this:

Photo courtesy www.mimoa.eu

The building has character, but it is clearly from a different era to the old shed beside it. It's also very practical: diesel trains from Nottingham and Derby can terminate in the new shed, leaving the electric Eurostar trains to terminate in the old shed where they would not damage the restoration work. Some examples of this work follow:

Photo courtesy www.thevictorianweb.org

Here the ironwork has been painted with a colour close to the colour of the sky, to match the original paint used by the shed's architect, William Henry Barlow.


Photo courtesy National Rail

The undercroft, designed for beer barrels, now houses the Eurostar departures area.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Natural light floods into the undercroft via a hole made in the original train shed floor. Vandalism? Certainly not.

Photo courtesy BBC

The new station clock, reconstructed by the original clock makers, Dent of London. But what of the original clock? Well, it was sold to a collector in the US for £250,000, but it was dropped when it was being taken down, and smashed into pieces. A retired railway worker took the bits home to Nottinghamshire, and assembled the bits on the end of his barn. The result is below:
Phota courtesy www.worldarchitecturenews.com

A bit out of proportion with the barn, you might think? A bit like St. Pancras with Euston Road then. It doesn't mean it isn't good architecture.

THE REOPENING OF THE HOTEL

Whereas Eurostar services transferred from Waterloo to St. Pancras (overnight!) in 2007, it took until 2011 to reopen what became the St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel. Pictures can describe the opulence far better than words, so here is a selection of photographs:

Photo courtesy Glenn Copus

Photo courtesy The Guardian

Photo courtesy The Guardian
 Photo courtesy The Guardian
There's nothing I can add to that, other than to hope that I stay there one day (it starts from about £750 per night for a room in the converted Chambers). Oh, just one little thing while I remember. Here's the bar and restaurant in the former booking office:
Photo courtesy http://tonesandjoy.wordpress.com

And how do they serve beer? In pewter tankards. Someone has read up on the history of the station.