Train named ‘Marylebone 125’ as London station celebrates landmark anniversary

Train operator Chiltern Railways has celebrated London Marylebone’s 125th anniversary with local residents and industry stakeholders.

One of Chiltern’s Intercity (Class 168) trains has been named ‘Marylebone: 125 Years’ to mark the occasion, with a range of celebrations taking place throughout the day. The event also included the unveiling a new historic exhibition at the station and a reception to celebrate the social and economic impact the station has had on local communities across the Chiltern network.

The anniversary marks 125 years since the opening of the Great Central Railway on 15 March 1899, the last London mainline opened before the High Speed 1 link to the Channel Tunnel.  The station was designed by Henry William Braddock, a civil engineer working for the Great Central Railway. It was considered modest in design at the time due to budgetary constraints, but fast forward to the present day, is considered as one of the jewels in the crown of London’s rail offering.

125 years ago, the station connected London to Manchester, Leicester and Sheffield. The original station designs were contentious as they involved clearing 4000 houses in the Marylebone area and creating a new tunnel directly below the Lords Cricket Ground.

The anniversary comes as Chiltern Railways continue work to deliver its Right Route 2030 vision of modernised customer facilities, additional capacity and a cleaner, greener fleet for its customers.

Train Naming Ceremony at London Marylebone Station

Richard Allan. Managing Director of Chiltern Railways, said:  “We are proud to call Marylebone our London home and to celebrate its 125th anniversary with members of the local community, Chiltern colleagues and industry partners. We are determined to make Marylebone an even better station for our customers and our neighbours as part of our Right Route 2030 ambition for Chiltern.”

To commemorate the rich history of the London terminus, in collaboration with the Baker Street Quarter Partnership and Chiltern Railways Community Investment Fund, new contemporary art installations have been unveiled at the Harewood Avenue entrance of the station.

These displays tell the story of the station over time, with historical archive material and pictures documenting the construction of the station, the challenges it faced during WW2 and the Beeching cuts of the 1960s, before exploring the recent period of growth under Chiltern Railways. A newly commissioned narrative map celebrates Marylebone’s connection to local communities and the importance of the wider Chiltern Railways rail network.

Marylebone Station Decorated for the Event

Penny Alexander, CEO of Baker Street Quarter Partnership, said: “The new displays at the station consider the people behind Marylebone’s creation and its impact on and importance to the surrounding community with the graphic map celebrating the value of the Station and its national connections – which remain so vital to local economies and so many people today.”

The wider station has been adorned with commemorative decorations, staff dressing up as Victorian railway workers, and free cakes for customers passing through to catch their services.

The train naming, unveiled by Managing Director Richard Allan, the Lord Mayor of Westminster Cllr Patricia McAllister, and Penny Alexander, CEO of Baker Street Quarter Partnership was complemented by a performance from the St Edwards Primary school choir.

Representatives from the local community were then welcomed to the Landmark Hotel for a reception. The Great Central Hotel (now the Landmark Hotel) was previously converted to offices and served as the headquarters of British Rail from 1948 to 1986.

Jazz band Catch 22, supported by Chiltern’s Community Investment Fund, performed as stands from the Great Central Railway, the Edward Watkin Society, and Chiltern’s own historic archives, provided guests with even more insight into the station’s proud history.

Marylebone Colleagues in Victorian Style Dress with the Lord Mayor of Westminster (Cllr Patricia McAllister)

Malcolm Holmes, General Manager of the present day Great Central Railway, said:  “It has been a real privilege to take part in the Marylebone 125 celebrations today, as we begin our own celebrations this weekend to mark the opening of the Great Central Railway on our own preserved sections in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. As the only double track main line heritage railway in the country, we re-create the heyday of the Great Central Railway of yesteryear when trains thundered through the Midlands on their way to Marylebone.”

Looking forwards, as part of Chiltern’s Right Route 2030 vision, the operator is making the case for additional capacity and new, environmentally friendly trains. When realised, it will provide another opportunity for a new chapter in the station’s history befitting 2024: one of progress, modernisation and decarbonisation.

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