Monument record 0978500000 - Taplow Station


Late nineteenth century railway station at Taplow.

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded


Type and Period (1)

  • RAILWAY STATION (Opened 1871, 19th Century - 1800 AD to 1899 AD)


Building report (file and exterior photograph) held at NMR (B1).
The Great Western Railway was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1835 to construct a line from London to Bristol. At 118 miles this was slightly longer than the other major trunk railway of its time, the London and Birmingham (112 miles), and considerably longer than other pioneering lines. Construction of the line began in 1836, using a variety of contractors and some direct labour. The first section to be completed, from London to Maidenhead Riverside (Taplow), opened in 1838, and thereafter openings followed in eight phases culminating in the completion of the whole route in 1841.
The engineering of the railway was entrusted in 1833 to Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-59), who was already known for his engineering projects in Bristol. More than any other railway engineer of his time he took sole responsibility for every aspect of the engineering design, from surveying the line to the detailing of buildings and structures. He sought to achieve as level a route as possible and, working from first principles, he persuaded the Directors of the GWR to adopt a broad gauge of 7ft 0¼ in rather then the standard (4ft 8½in) gauge in use on other lines. A two-track broad gauge line was 30ft wide, and this determined the span of the overbridges and other structures. Except for larger bridges such as Maidenhead Bridge, the majority of Brunel’s masonry bridges did not need to be as innovative as his works in timber and iron, and his structures followed the typical architectural idioms of his time, but they were all beautifully detailed and built, and together formed integral parts of a consistently-designed pioneering railway.
By the 1870s the growth of traffic, especially at the London end of the route, necessitated the widening of the line from two to four tracks. This was carried out in two stages, from London to Taplow in 1875- 84 and from Taplow to Didcot in 1890-3. By the time of these widenings the broad gauge was being phased out (the final conversion to standard gauge took place in 1892), and the design of the new or extended structures took this into account. However the designs were exceptionally sympathetic to Brunel’s original work in both form and detail; also in the choice of materials, although engineering brick, seldom if ever used by Brunel, began to make an appearance in 1890s. The engineers chiefly responsible for the widened lines, whose names appear on the surviving archive drawings, were William George Owen (1810-85), Lancaster Owen (1843-1911) and Edmund Olander (1834-1900).
The first station at Taplow opened in June 1838 as 'Maidenhead Riverside', the terminus of the first section of the line (from Paddington) to open. Nothing appears to survive of this complex.
The present station was constructed c.1883-84 (the footbridge is dated 1884) when the line from Paddington to Taplow was quadrupled. The designer may have been GWR architect JE Danks, who designed Slough Station.
Since then the principal changes have been demolitions: the large elevated signal box attached to the footbridge, the ten-bay Down Fast platform waiting room and attached canopy and the Up Fast platform canopy.
Details: MATERIALS: red brick, with buff brick, sandstone and engineering brick detailing. Iron and timber canopies
and footbridge. DESCRIPTION: entrance building, north side (Up Relief platform): 18 by 2 bays, orange-red brick, buff brick dressings and engineering brick plinth detailing. Hipped slate roof. Stone cornice, keystones to openings, impost blocks to brick pilasters and plinth capping. Architrave of red and white brick. North and south facades have different patterns of wide and narrow openings. Two end bays at each end of the north façade are set back from the central section which has a canopy of iron brackets and a corrugated metal roof. Similar canopy to south (trackside) facade. The timber valances have rounded edging and are pierced. Large wall mounted lamps are located on the end bays of the north façade. To either side of the entrance building are iron railings and newel posts. A Victorian post-box is set into the south façade. Interior: ticket office has an original wooden partition with ticket window (painted shut).
Island Platform: waiting room on island platform: in the same style as the entrance building. Five by two bays, with a central opening as a wide open archway. To either side of the archway is a small waiting room. End windows are bricked up. Hipped slate roof. Canopy attached on the north (Down Relief) side: cast-iron brackets and structure with corrugated metal roofs. The timber valances have rounded edging and are pierced. Interior: No other features of interest.
Footbridge: west of the platform buildings a riveted iron lattice footbridge spanning all tracks and linking all platforms. Has the GWR monogram and a date of 1884 in the spandrels. Supported by pairs of cast-iron columns with enriched bases and capitals. The timber valances match those of the building canopies. These are carried as gables over the staircase entrances, which are topped with finials. Stairs have original timber handrails with iron mounting brackets. Restored in 2006.
Historic photographs show a very large and unusual two-storey signal box built on cast-iron columns and rising from the centre of the footbridge, which passed through the signal box's enclosed lower stage. This has since been demolished and there is now no evidence of it.
Selected Sources:
Bourne, J, C, The History and Description of the Great Western Railway , 1846
Brindle, Steven and Cruickshank, Dan, Brunel: The Man Who Built the World, 2005
Cross-Rudkin, P and Chrimes, M, EDS, Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers Vol 2: 1830–1890 , 2008
MacDermot, E, T, A History of the Great Western Railway, 1927, revised ed. 1964
Pugsley, A, The Works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 1976
Vaughan, A, A Pictorial Record of Great Western Architecture , 1977
Alan Baxter & Associates, The History and Significance of the Great Western Main Line , 2012, Alan Baxter & Associates
Kinchin-Smith, R, Crossrail Technical Assessment of Historic Railway Bridges , 2005, RPS Planning and Environment.
Assessed in 2012 by English Heritage for inclusion in statutory list but considered not to meet the criteria for listing (B2).

Sources (2)

  • <1>SBC23358 Unpublished document: English Heritage. 2006. NMR Buildings Reports. BF007407.
  • <2>SBC24249 Unpublished document: English Heritage. 2012. Letter re notification of designation decision with accompanying advice report on Taplow Railway Station.


Grid reference SU 91572 81340 (point) (Approximate)
Civil Parish TAPLOW, South Bucks, Buckinghamshire

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Record last edited

Jul 17 2012 12:29PM

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