Drawings of the Midland Railway Extension to London (St Pancras)

Scope and Content

The collection comprises 33 architectural and engineering drawings as used or designed by contractors to the Midland Railway, covering architectural elements of St Pancras and Finchley Road Stations, various bridges and approaches and the design and emplacement of working equipment such as cranes and traversers. It represents a very small part of what must have been a much more extensive set of drawings.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Midland Railway Company was formed in 1844 by amalgamation of the North Midland Railway and others in the Derbyshire and Midlands area. In subsequent years the company expanded its operations through acquiring smaller companies and by making joint arrangements with other major companies such as the Great Northern Railway and the London and North Western Railway, whose interests ran adjacent to the Midland. It was by such means that the Midland Railway first gained access to London at King’s Cross.

Failing to achieve suitable arrangements with rival companies by the early 1860s the Midland Railway applied for an Act of Parliament to construct its own route into London, with its own railway terminus. The Act was granted in 1863 and work commenced in 1864 to build a line between Bedford and a new terminus at St Pancras. The new station opened in 1868, though further construction work continued in subsequent years, most notably the Grand Hotel at St Pancras, opened in 1873. The drawings in this collection relate to aspects of the work surrounding this extension.

One of the main controversies attached to the building of the new line was its impact on the immediate neighbourhood of the new station. The station and the new lines approaching it led to the demolition of many hundreds of homes, mostly in poorer districts. A rather macabre impact was the need to cross the burial ground attached to the old St Pancras church. To make way for the bridge across the grounds several thousand bodies had to be removed and reburied. The future poet, Thomas Hardy, was in charge of operations during this aspect of the work. One of the drawings relates to tests conducted on this viaduct, assessing its load capability. There were further changes and proposals in later years as a continuing result of the expansion of the Midland Railway’s operations in the area.


The drawings have been listed as stored. Since they derive from a number of separate sources and represent only a small selection of the original elements of the overall set of drawings, there is no intrinsic system of arrangement.

Conditions Governing Access

Access is given in accordance with the NRM access policy. Material from this archive is available to researchers through the Search Engine reading room. The collection is fully open to researchers.

Opening times:

Search Engine is open to the public Wednesday to Saturday 10.00-5.30. You don't need an appointment to use the library collection but you will need to book at least a week ahead if you wish to look at archival material.

To make a booking, email: search.engine@nrm.org.uk. We recommend you contact us at least one week before your visit.

Contact details:

Address: Search Engine, National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ. Email: search.engine@nrm.org.uk

Check full details on the website at: http://www.nrm.org.uk/ResearchAndArchive/enquiriesandvisiting.aspx

Acquisition Information

The drawings were donated to the National Railway Museum by Mr W G Smith in September 2004.

Other Finding Aids

There is a complete listing of the set of drawings based on information as written on the originals.

Alternative Form Available

Not applicable.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The majority of the drawings are ink with colour in-fill on tracing paper. Two drawings are printed on linen.

Archivist's Note

The drawings were listed and the catalogue created by Martin Bashforth, Assistant Archivist, National Railway Museum, February 2010.

Description created by Jane Ronson (Archives Hub team) using the Archives Hub EAD Editor, May 2015.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying of these drawings is severely restricted due to the fragile nature of the originals. They are protected from direct handling by being sheathed in large format Secol sleeves. In accordance with the NRM’s terms and conditions for the supply and reproduction of copies it will only be possible to use digital photography, without the use of flash, to take research images and providing the drawings remain sheathed.

Appraisal Information

The drawings have been appraised for conservation and sheathed in Secol plastic sleeves for protection from further decay or damage.


No accruals are expected.

Related Material

Related units of description held at the National Railway Museum, listed by Inventory number:

NRM 1998-8759:Photographs in two albums entitled ‘Photographs of the Works in Progress of the Midland Railway – Extension to London’ 1860-1968.

Location of Originals

Not applicable.


  • Goslin, GW: The London Extension of the Midland Railway, (Caernarfon, Irwell Press, 1994)
  • MRLECCA: The Midland Railway London extension 1868-1968, centenary, (Flitwick, 1968)
  • Simmons, Jack: St Pancras Station, (London, George Allen and Unwin, 1968)

Geographical Names