History - Hudson Quarter


A development by Palace Capital PLC

On the historic site of pioneering and world changing events

Championed by the formidable ‘Railway King’ George Hudson

Railway King

Hudson Quarter is proud to be within York’s historic fabric: inside the medieval walls and on the site of the city’s first permanent railway station designed by York and North Midland Railway architect, George Townsend Andrews. This succeeded a makeshift wooden building on Queen Street outside the walls of the city.

Opened in 1840 by the railway pioneer, George Hudson, the “Railway King” and Chairman of Y&NMR after whom Hudson Quarter is named, it was the terminus of the original trunk route for the York and North Midlands Railway and trains to London via Derby and Birmingham.

Image © Science & Society Picture Library

York's first station

Its location inside the old city walls was a deliberate statement of power by George Hudson. By punching through the old city walls, he was making a clear statement that the railways were to be taken seriously.

The neo-Tudor arch where the city walls were breached remains to this day and is one of the ways to reach Hudson Quarter.

Image credit:  Unknown – Tomlinson, William Weaver, 1858-1916 (1915) The North Eastern Railway; its rise and development, plate XVII, facing p. 250

Drawing has the inscription “Rook & Co., London No. 4325” and “20 June 1861”.

All change

Between 1840 and 1877 the railways expanded rapidly during a period referred to as railway mania. York was a centre for the growth and places for refreshments or to stay also appeared: York’s first Railway Hotel opened in 1841, bought by Sarah Scawin the following year – it was known as Scawin’s Hotel long after she sold it in 1869. In 1852 Y&NMR saw the opportunity and built a hotel, which became the Royal Station Hotel after Queen Victoria had lunched there on her way by train to her Scottish estate at Balmoral Castle.

As the rail network extended northwards to Newcastle and Scotland, York station and its two platforms needed to change: It had been designed as a terminus hence passengers and railway staff had to cope with the inconvenience of reversing out of the station to continue their journeys. As a result, Parliament gave permission for a new through station and what is now the present York Station was opened in 1877, just outside the walls – just a stone’s throw literally from the old station and now Hudson Quarter’s 21st century apartments and offices.

British Rail HQ

The tracks into the old station under the arch through the walls remained in use until 1965 as carriage storage space and the railway station buildings and original railway hotel were converted into office space.

The railway lines were finally dismantled to allow Hudson House, the headquarters for the British Rail Eastern Region to be built between 1967 and 1970.  S.Hardy of the British Rail Architects’ Department designed its classic concrete style and the buildings housed various businesses over the years including many connected to railway engineering and expertise.

PALACE CAPITAL bought what was Hudson House in 2014, seeing the opportunity to create something exceptional for the city and continue the site’s central role for York – key to the city’s evolution as a stunning place to live and work.

Image credit: © York Press