Paddington station

Coordinates: 51°31′02″N 0°10′39″W / 51.5173°N 0.1774°W / 51.5173; -0.1774

Paddington railway station, also known as London Paddington, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex.

The site is an historic one, having served as the London terminus of the Great Western Railway and its successors since 1838. Much of the current mainline station dates from 1854, and was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The site was first served by Underground trains in 1863, and was the original western terminus of the Metropolitan Railway, the world's first underground railway.

The complex has recently been modernised, and now has an additional role as the London terminal for the dedicated Heathrow Express airport service. Paddington is in Travelcard Zone 1.

The mainline station's most important long-distance destinations are Bristol, Cheltenham Spa, Cardiff, Exeter, Penzance, Plymouth and Swansea, .


The station complex is bounded at the front by Praed Street and at the rear by Bishop's Bridge Road, which crosses the throat of the mainline station on the recently replaced Bishop's Bridge. On the west side of the station is Eastbourne Terrace, while the east side is bounded by the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal. The mainline station stands in a shallow cutting, a fact obscured at the front by an hotel building, but which can be clearly seen from the other three sides.

The surrounding area is partly residential, and also includes the major St Mary's Hospital, as well as restaurants and hotels.

Until recently there was little office accommodation in the area, and most commuters interchanged between National Rail and the London Underground to reach workplaces in the West End or the City. However, recent redevelopment of derelict railway and canal land, marketed as Paddington Waterside, has resulted in a number of new office complexes nearby.

National Rail station

The National Rail station is officially named London Paddington, a name commonly used outside London, but rarely by Londoners. Parts of the station, including the main train shed, date from 1854, when it was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as the London terminus for the Great Western Railway (GWR). Today, it is one of 18 UK railway stations managed by Network Rail.


The first station to open in the Paddington area was a temporary terminus for the GWR on the west side of Bishop's Bridge Road; it opened on 4 June 1838, The first GWR service from London to Taplow, near Maidenhead, began at Paddington in 1838. After the opening of the main station in 1854, this became the site of the goods depot.

The main Paddington station between Bishops Bridge Road and Praed Street was designed by Brunel, who was later commemorated by a statue on the station concourse (it has since been moved to Platform 1, by the exit to the taxi rank), although much of the architectural detailing was by his associate Matthew Digby Wyatt. The station opened on 29 May 1854. The glazed roof is supported by wrought iron arches in three spans, respectively spanning 68 feet (21 m), 102 feet (31 m) and 70 feet (21 m). The roof is 699 feet (210 m) long, and the original roof spans had two transepts connecting the three spans. It is commonly believed that these were provided by Brunel to accommodate traversers to carry coaches between the tracks within the station. However recent research, using early documents and photographs, does not seem to support this belief, and their actual purpose is unknown.

The Great Western Hotel was built on Praed Street in front of the station in 1851-1854 by architect Philip Charles Hardwick, son of Philip Hardwick (designer of the Euston Arch). The station was substantially enlarged in 1906-1915 and a fourth span of 109 feet (33 m) was added on the north side, parallel to the others. The new span was built in a similar style to the original three spans, but the detailing is different and it does not possess the transepts of the earlier spans.

On Armistice Day 1922, a memorial to the employees of the GWR who died during the First World War was unveiled by Viscount Churchill. The bronze memorial, depicting a soldier reading a letter, was sculpted by Charles Sargeant Jagger and stands on platform 1.

In 1961, the decomposing body of a male child was found in a case at the station. Paper stuffed into his mouth was the cause of death. His identity has never been discovered.

A very early construction by Brunel was recently discovered immediately to the north of the station. A cast iron bridge carrying the Bishop's Bridge Road over the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal was uncovered after removal of more recent brick cladding during the complete replacement of the adjacent bridge over the railway lines at the mouth of the station.


Today, Paddington has 14 terminal platforms, numbered 1 to 14 from south-west to north-east (left to right as seen from the main concourse). Platforms 1 to 8 are below the original three spans of Brunel's 1854 train shed, and platforms 9 to 12 are beneath the later fourth span. Platforms 13 and 14 are within the Metropolitan Railway's old Bishop's Road (Suburban) station to the north-west. Immediately alongside are two through platforms, numbered 15 and 16, used by the London Underground's Hammersmith & City and Circle lines (see below).

Platforms 6 and 7 are dedicated to the Heathrow Express, and platforms 13 and 14 can be used only by the 2- and 3-car Turbo trains used on local services. Platforms 1 to 5 and 8 to 12 can be used by any of the station's train services; however, long-distance trains generally use the south-western platforms, and local trains (including Heathrow Connect) the north-eastern ones.

The station concourse stretches across the head of platforms 1 to 12, underneath the London end of the four main train sheds. Platforms 13 and 14 can be reached directly from the northern-western end of platform 12, or from the footbridge which crosses the north-western end of the station and gives access to all platforms.

The area between the rear of the Great Western Hotel and the station concourse is traditionally called The Lawn. It was originally unroofed and occupied by sidings, but was later built up to form part of the station's first pedestrian concourse. The Lawn has recently been re-roofed and separated from the concourse by a glass screen wall. It is now surrounded by shops and cafés on several levels.

There are ticket barriers to platforms 2-5 and 10-16.

The fourth span has been renovated, involving repair and resoration of the original Edwardian glazed roof, so that platforms 9 to 12 inclusive can once more enjoy daylight . A false ceiling or crash deck has been place since 1996. Work was finally completed and the restored roof unveiled in July 2011.


Paddington is the London terminus for frequent long-distance high-speed trains operated by First Great Western, whose most important destinations are Bristol, Bath, Gloucester, Exeter and Penzance in the West Country; Hereford and Worcester in the West Midlands; and Newport, Cardiff and Swansea in South Wales. It is also the terminus for local trains to West London and the Thames Valley, most notably for stations to Reading and Oxford, also operated by First Great Western. Two services from Paddington serve Heathrow Airport: the Heathrow Express travels non-stop at a premium fare, while Heathrow Connect takes the same route but calls at most intermediate stations. Paddington is also an alternative London terminal for Chiltern Railways' service to Birmingham, used when London Marylebone is inaccessible for engineering or other reasons, and for one daily service, High Wycombe-bound only.

London Underground stations

Paddington station is served by four London Underground lines through two separate stations: the Bakerloo, Circle and District lines serve a combined sub-surface and deep-level station to the south of the main line station, and the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines serve a sub-surface station to the north. Circle line services are routed through each of the sub-surface stations as part of a spiral route. Although shown on the London Underground map as a single station, the two sub-surface parts are not directly linked.

Ticket barriers control access to all platforms except for platform 1, which has access to the street along its length and therefore cannot be provided with ticket gates.


The first underground railway station at Paddington was opened as Paddington (Bishop's Road) by the Metropolitan Railway (MR) on 10 January 1863 as the terminus of the company's route from Farringdon. The station was to the north of the main line station and, from 13 June 1864, MR services were extended westward via a connection to the GWR's Hammersmith branch, now the Hammersmith & City line.

On 1 October 1868, the MR opened a branch to Gloucester Road, with a station called Paddington (Praed Street) in a cut-and-cover tunnel under that street south of the mainline station. The deep-level Baker Street and Waterloo Railway (now the Bakerloo line) station opened on 1 December 1913 as a temporary terminus of an extension from Edgware Road to Queen's Park.

Services around the circuit of the Circle line were originally shared by the MR and the Metropolitan District Railway and were separately identified specifically as the Circle line in 1949. Hammersmith & City line services were originally operated as part of the MR (later the Metropolitan line) and were separately identified as the Hammersmith & City line in 1990.

The platforms of the Suburban (Bishop's Road) station are still quite separate from the other Underground platforms; some revisions of the Underground map have shown them as a separate station, though the most recent (September 2009) revision does not indicate a distinction. They are similar to the mainline platforms alongside them, and are numbered (15 and 16) in the same sequence as the mainline platforms. Interchange between the Praed Street/Bakerloo Line and Suburban platforms involves walking the length of the mainline station outside the London Underground barrier lines, although the ticket barriers are programmed to permit changing between the two stations as part of a single journey.


Hammersmith & City line trains run between Hammersmith and Barking stations. Circle line trains share tracks with the Hammersmith & City Line from Hammersmith to Paddington (Suburban), then around a clockwise loop via Aldgate and Victoria, arriving back at Paddington (Praed Street), before terminating at Edgware Road. District Line services run between Wimbledon and Edgware Road, and Bakerloo Line trains run between Elephant & Castle and Harrow & Wealdstone stations.

Crossrail station

Between 2009 and 2015, a new Crossrail station is being built under London Paddington, serving as a connection to the National Rail and London Underground services. Services are due to start in 2018.

Paddington station in fiction

The children's book character Paddington Bear was named after the station. In the books, by Michael Bond, he is found at the station, having come from "deepest, darkest Peru" and with a note attached to his coat reading "please look after this bear, thank you". A statue of Paddington Bear by Marcus Cornish, based on the original drawings by Peggy Fortnum, is located on the station concourse, and a small shop stocks Paddington Bear paraphernalia in the main station area.

The mystery novel 4.50 From Paddington (1952) by Agatha Christie begins with a murder witnessed by a passenger on a train from Paddington station.

One of The Railway Series books (The Eight Famous Engines) contains a story about Gordon, Duck and a foreign engine debating which station London is. Duck says that he used to work at London Paddington as a station pilot so he thinks Paddington is most important. However, Gordon later finds out that the station in London is St. Pancras.

There is an underground Paddington Station, separate from the real one, on the North London System in the novel The Horn of Mortal Danger (1980).

Transport links

London bus routes 7, 23, 27, 36, 46, 159, 205, 332, 436 and Night routes N7.


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