Marylebone station, aka London Marylebone, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex. It stands midway between the mainline stations at Euston and Paddington, about 1.6 km from each. Originally the London terminus of the ill-fated Great Central Main Line, it now serves as the terminus of the Chiltern Main Line route.
The design is in a modest, understated domestic version of the Edwardian Baroque style that owed some of its popularity to work by Norman Shaw; it harmonises with the residential surroundings with Dutch gables, employing warm brick and cream-coloured stone.
The mainline station has six platforms; two originally built in 1899, two inserted into the former carriage road, and two built in September 2006. It is the only non-electrified terminal in London. Marylebone is operated by Chiltern Railways, making it the only London terminal station not to be managed by Network Rail.
The station was opened on 15 March 1899 and was the terminus of the Great Central Railway’s new London extension main line — the last major railway line to be built in London until High Speed 1. It was designed by Henry William Braddock, a civil engineer for the Great Central Railway.
While passenger traffic was sparse, the line was heavily used for freight, especially coal, and goods trains ran from the north and East Midlands to the former Marylebone freight depot which used to adjoin the station. The heyday of the line was between 1923, when the GCR was absorbed into the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) and 1948, when the LNER was nationalised to form the BR Eastern Region. As a result many prestigious locomotives, such as Flying Scotsman, Sir Nigel Gresley, and Mallard which ran on the East Coast Main Line, were also frequent visitors to the line. Moreover, special trains ran on the line to destinations such as Scotland.
Long-distance trains from Marylebone began to be scaled back from 1958 after their transfer from BR’s Eastern Region to the London Midland Region, as the former Great Central Main Line was regarded as a duplicate of the Midland Main Line. Meanwhile the Master Cutler, the line’s daily crack London-Sheffield express, was diverted to London King’s Cross and thenceforth ran via the East Coast Main Line. By 1963, local stopping services beyond Aylesbury and most intermediate stations had closed, and in 1965 freight services were curtailed. Between 1960 and 1966 only a few long-distance ‘semi-fast’ services remained, mainly steam-hauled by LMR ‘Black 5s’ – the days of the Great Central as a true main line were over. In 1966 the former Great Central Main Line was closed between Aylesbury and Rugby as part of the Beeching axe. This meant that Marylebone was now the terminus for local services to Aylesbury and High Wycombe only.
After the 1960s, the lack of investment meant that the local services and the station itself became increasingly run down. Marylebone became the best place in London to see heritage trains. Upon rail privatisation in 1996, Chiltern Railways took over the rail services.
In 1964 several scenes in The Beatles film “A Hard Day’s Night” were filmed at Marylebone station. The station also featured in an episode of “Magnum, P.I.” when the series was filmed around London. Other appearances include the opening scene of the 1965 film “The IPCRESS File” and one of the episodes of “Doctor Who”.
Around 11.6 million passengers passed through Marylebone between 2006/2007, an increase of 4.8 million since 2005/2006, a 70% rise in just a year. This makes it London’s fastest-growing passenger rail terminal by percentage growth rate.
In the early 1980s there was a proposal to close Marylebone and turned it into a coach station with the tracks converted to a road for coaches only. However, these plans were deemed impractical and quietly dropped.