“Praed Street was originally laid out in the early 19th century, being built up in 1828. It was named after William Praed (1747 – 1833), chairman of the company which built the canal basin which lies just to the north. Praed’s business interests were a higher priority than parliamentary affairs (he sat in the House of Commons from 1774 to 1808), and he was particularly focused on the Grand Junction Canal, of which he was chairman. He steered through Parliament the bill which authorised its construction.”
From: Cathedrals of Steam (2020), by Christian Wolmar:
“…Brunel scoured west London for an alternative to Euston, considering sites in Brentford, Acton, Hammersmith, Brompton and even Vauxhall Bridge, but Paddington’s proximity to the Grand Union Canal, with its key connection to the London docks, was a deciding factor…
…The aisles, the widest of which was more than 100 feet across, were intended to be used by ‘traversers’, huge cranes that would be able to lift carriages and even locomotives from one line to another, but these
never materialized, quite possibly because they may well have been
technically too demanding to install in such a restricted space.
Nevertheless, whether it was by accident or design, the generous
width of these platforms added to the feeling of airiness, giving
passengers the space and opportunity to admire the fabulous roof.
There was considerable space at the buffer stops, too, where the
concourse was a garden known as The Lawn, a name that long
survived the disappearance of the grass.
There were three departure and two arrival platforms when
the station opened early in 1854. Two inner platforms were used
for overspill and could be reached by an ingenious method. To
avoid passengers having to trudge up and down stairs to use
them, a hydraulically powered drawbridge was laid across two of
the departure platforms when they were clear. Turntables were
available for loading private carriages but these were soon phased
out as the practice was abandoned.
The Royal Family, who had homes easily linked by a trip on
the Great Western, had to be catered for in the well-founded
expectation that they would travel regularly between Windsor
and London by rail, despite the Queen’s misgivings about speed.
A private entrance to the departure platform – even in 1854, it was
normal to separate arrivals from departures – was provided for the
sole use of royalty and included an exclusive royal waiting room,
‘discreetly lit by a barred, ground floor window and filled with
stuffy French furniture’. The walls were enamelled in a salmon
tint, inlaid with gilt moulding and interspersed by grey silk panels,
all suitably staid and solemn for the Queen and her entourage.
The architectural historian Oliver Green sums up the success of
Paddington, which has been expanded but whose shape remains
largely unchanged since it was completed, as ‘a light and elegant
design, but also an extremely sound and functional piece of
engineering, which has served its purpose for more than 150 years’.
By the time the new Paddington station was fully functioning,
another major railway station on the northern periphery of the
city, King’s Cross, had already been completed and rules governing
the location of future stations had been established.”