The History of London’s Paddington Station
London is one of those amazing cities where you can find a different vibe virtually everywhere you turn. Historic landmarks intermingle with chic high-fashion shops and divey pubs can be found right around the corner from some of the most luxurious hotels and spas. London is an amazing place to have fun, learn, and explore hundreds of different cultures and traditions all in one fast-paced city.
Research any historical landmark and you’re likely to find fascinating stories about the people and stories that made it – people from all across the world who ultimately built London into the hustling, bustling, melting pot it is today. If you’re planning a visit to London, challenge yourself to go on a little deep dive next time you’re Googling a certain landmark or location.
For instance, if you’re looking for Paddington Station luggage storage, take a moment to learn about the interesting history of Paddington Station (and yes, it did inspire the children’s book series and its beloved main character!).
If you want to impress your travel buddies with your impressive historical knowledge (or simply have always been a bit of a history buff), here are a few fascinating facts about Paddington Station you probably didn’t know about.
It’s the first local train station that was used by a reigning monarch
Back in 1842, Queen Victoria was traveling from Windsor Castle when unusual weather rendered her unable to return via her normal method of travel. Her only option being the train, she headed to Paddington Station with her husband, Prince Albert, for the first time, and continued taking the train from there for many years thereafter.
In fact, she began traveling through Paddington Station so frequently that they granted her a royal waiting room, which to this day still stands as the First Class Lounge on platform one.
So if you catch a ride at Paddington Station, you may just be standing or sitting in the same place as royalty!
The current station is not the original
London is a place that is chock full of history, and it’s not uncommon to step into a historic building and learn that it has remained largely unchanged since its creation.
Paddington Station, however, is not one of those places. Though it was built in 1838, it underwent a major upgrade starting in 1853, when British mechanical and civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel (who also built the Great Western Railway) decided Paddington needed to be much more grand and detailed. His design was allegedly inspired by the iconic Crystal Palace.
Brunel took it upon himself to create plans for a new design and updated architecture, though his associate, Matthew Digby Wyatt, executed most of the actual architectural detailing.
Paddington’s original form was initially intended to be a temporary station to serve as a façade to offer facilities for commuting passengers. Who would have thought it’d become such a sturdy, iconic landmark?
There’s a secret line that not many people ride
Though it’s not much of a secret now that you can find out about it with just a quick Google search, Paddington Station has one unique (and much less popular) service that employees still try to keep on the down low.
The 11.36 to West Ruislip departs from a remote platform just once a weekday and takes passengers to the suburbs via a track that runs through overgrown backwaters. The only reason this line still runs is to keep an otherwise unused section of the track open – closing it would cost much more money and government involvement than it does to keep it open.
If you happen to catch a ride on this elusive line, you’re almost guaranteed to have the entire carriage to yourself.
Yes, it did inspire the book about the bear
Michael Bond’s series of children’s books featuring Paddington Bear has remained a beloved staple since its release in 1958, yet many people still don’t know the exact story of where his name came from.
It’s really quite sweet and simple – on Christmas Eve 1956, Bond, a British author, spotted a little toy bear all by itself in the window of a shop near Paddington Station. Something about the bear caught his attention, and Bond immediately purchased it and lovingly named it after the historic landmark. Since writing “A Bear Called Paddington,” Bond has gone on to write more than twenty books featuring the beloved bear.
There are so many other facts about Paddington Station to be discovered, but it’s so much more interesting once you’re able to pay it a visit for yourself. There’s a reason it’s such an underrated London landmark – from royal galivants 52av to secret lines and sweet creative inspiration, Paddington Station has long been a hub for history and memories, and is certain to remain so for decades to come.