When I was born in 1841 the Birmingham railway station near to Curzon Street, on the other side of town, had been open for just eight years. Birmingham was fortunate – it was the first town in the land to be connected to the capital by a railway line.
The station, which I got taken to a few times as a child, was a magnificent building. It was designed by a Philip Hardwick with tall columns at the front and a massive shed at the rear where the trains stood. The passengers boarded the trains there and then the steam locomotives hauled them away to London – a journey that was completed in just over five hours!
I often wondered where those steaming giants lived and I later discovered that there was a building called a roundhouse about 250 yards to the east, by the canal, where the locomotives were prepared for their duties.
The station at Curzon Street was closed in 1854 when a new station near to New Street was opened and the whole of the site was then used as a goods station. Eventually the roundhouse was deemed too small for the increasing number of locomotives and new sheds were built at nearby Saltley, in Monument Road and in Wolverhampton.
The roundhouse was demolished and vanished.
I wonder if, in years to come, the foundations of the roundhouse will be uncovered for future generations to gaze upon the remains of the first railway roundhouse to be built in the world?
Tom was right. Almost 150 years later in the year 2020 the foundations emerged once more into the daylight. The work is part of the preparation of the site for the Birmingham Curzon Station for the HS2 railway. The station building is still there.