Neat, charming and compact, Marylebone station has got to be London’s most chilled railway terminal. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
It’s the baby of the bunch
Marylebone is the smallest of London’s mainline stations and the youngest too – it’s only been open since 1899. Its quaint nature was once described by Sir John Betjeman as resembling 'a public library from Nottingham which has unexpectedly found itself in London'.
It's got a ghost line
Marylebone originally served the Great Central Main Line, a now long lost route which hooked the capital up with Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield. Sharp-eyed tube-goers will notice an echo of this old company down on Marylebone’s northbound Bakerloo platform where the words ‘Great Central’ can still be spotted in the tiling.
Its creator was a visionary
The Great Central Main Line was mastered by Salford-born Sir Edward Watkin, one of the Victorian era’s great Railway Kings. His other projects included an attempt to dig an early Channel Tunnel and a scheme to build London’s own version of the Eiffel Tower at Wembley, both of which sadly flopped.
It annoyed cricketers
During the planning stage, the new line into Marylebone attracted plenty of NIMBYs, the most notable being the chaps at Marylebone Cricket Club who didn’t take kindly to the prospect of steam engines ploughing through their home ground at Lord’s. Fighting this opposition almost bankrupted the GCML and is the reason why Marylebone station is much smaller than originally intended. In the end, the club allowed the line to pass through a tunnel just east of Lord’s – although this meant the neighbouring Clergy Orphan School for Girls had to be turfed out instead.
It's got its own folly
Originally called ‘The Crown’, ‘Crocker’s Folly’ on Aberdeen Place was renamed in 1987 in honour of its founder, Frank Crocker. As urban legend has it, Frank spent a fortune on designing The Crown as a luxury hotel to serve the Great Central Main Line’s planned station in London – which he believed would be based at St John’s Wood. When the station opened some distance away at Marylebone, Frank was ruined and died in his marooned folly aged just 41. Naturally, his ghost is said to now haunt the site.
It's a bit of a film star
Marylebone has appeared on celluloid many times over the years, most famously in the iconic opening sequence to the 1964 Beatles flick, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, in which a crazed mob chases the Fab Four as they attempt to board a train. Marylebone station can also be spotted in ‘Peep Show’, ‘Gavin and Stacey’ and, more recently, ‘The Conjuring 2’. It's even appeared in a London-set special of ‘Magnum P.I’.
It nearly became a coach station
By the 1980s, Marylebone station was in a pretty grubby state with crumbling infrastructure and dwindling passenger numbers. This led the government to seriously consider ripping up the tracks and replacing them with an express road; a scheme which would've seen Marylebone station transformed into a coach depot. After much debate the plan was shelved – which was just as well really, because Marylebone station is now busier than ever.