Nottingham Victoria station opened on the 24th May 1900- over a year after the start of main line services from London to Sheffield were passing through it.
The construction was on a grand scale- around 700,000 cubic yards of sandstone rock was excavated from its cavernous site. Some 1300 houses and 24 public houses previously on the site had to be demolished. The site was approximately 13 acres big and 650 yards long from north to south. It had an average width of 110 yards with a tunnel at each end of it for access.
Both the Great Central and Great Northern railways shared the station (they split into two lines at Weekday Cross junction) and this, after much argument, was why it was called Nottingham 'Victoria' rather than 'Central'.
The main station building was in true Victorian
splendour. It was constructed using the best quality faced bricks and Darley
Dale stone with space out in front for Hackney carriages (would be a taxi
rank now!) which was covered by a canopy. The three story building had
a large 100 feet clock tower in it's centre topped with a cupola and weather
vane. At the north end of the building access could be gained to the parcels
office via two large metal gates.
Inside the building, on the ground floor, you reached the spacious booking office. It was over 100ft long and 66ft wide and contained the best quality pine and a hard wearing oak floor along with a balcony to gain access to offices.
The station itself had two large island platforms, each 1270 feet long, with four bays for local traffic giving a total of 12 platforms. Large steel pillars held up an enormous 3-part canopy - the two outer sections being 63 feet across the central one being 84 feet across. These were glazed and gave the station a very impressive 'cathedral' like look. The main station building was located on Milton Street along with the station hotel.
The platforms both had very similar buildings with a variety of facilities including a telegraph office, refreshment rooms, toilets, many waiting rooms and even a ladies only tea room! The station boasted many facilities for the comfort of passengers - far more than many other stations in the area.
A subway system, below track level, could be used for the movement of luggage in order to avoid carrying it over the footbridges.
The station had passing loops round all platforms (for freight), two signal boxes and its own turntable. The two signal boxes were positioned at the north and south ends of the station and controlled entry and exit to the tunnels that allowed entry to the complex.
The traffic that passed through was very varied. It included London-Manchester expresses, local services, cross-country services (from say York to Bristol via Oxford) as well as freight workings. As the station was shared with The Great Northern Railway (already well established when Victoria opened) a superb network of lines going to many destinations was available from the one station.
In its hey-day it was a busy, friendly and grand station which many people loved and thought would last forever. But this was not to be.
During the 1960's the whole Great Central
route was being run down by diverting services away from it, cutting others
and slowing down expresses to very slack timetables. Locomotives and rolling
stock was unreliable and old- the line did not benefit from British Rail's
new diesel locomotives. As passenger numbers fell, either going by car
or other lines, closure seemed inevitable. The last through service from
Nottingham to London ran on 3rd September 1966.
All that was left was a DMU service between Nottingham and Rugby.
The now largely silent Victoria station
was finally closed on 4 September 1967 and demolished leaving only the
clocktower to survive amongst the Victoria Shopping Centre and flats. Described
as one of the worst blights on any UK city- the superb grand station which,
if still in existence, would be in great need today has now been transformed
beyond all recognition into a rather ugly looking shopping centre. The
clocktower was spared but does not blend into its surroundings at all and
stands as an overlooked monument to a once truly great station.
Service Withdrawal dates:
14th Feb 1931 - local trains to Shirebrook North
7th Dec 1953 - local trains via High Leicestershire to Northampton Castle
2nd Jan 1956 - local trains to Mansfield Central
4th April 1960 - local trains via Daybrook to Basford North
7th Jan 1963 - local trains to Pinxton South
4th Mar 1963 - local trains to Chesterfield Central and Sheffield Victoria. Closure of all but two stations between Nottm. Victoria and Leicester Central (only Loughborough & East Leake remained)
2nd Jan 1964 - Manchester Piccadilly - London Marylebone, Bradford Exchange - London Marylebone expresses
7th Sep 1964 - local trains to Derby Friargate
5th Sep 1966 - through trains York-Poole, remaining semi-fast services to London Marylebone
3rd Jul 1967 - Complete closure with diversion of Grantham trains into Nottingham Midland, and curtailment of remaining Rugby locals at Nottingham Arkwright Street