KN Circet starts work restoring Grade I listed railway building

Jon Millward, historic environment manager, HS2; Mike Neary, project manager, LMJV; Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council; Russell Bailey, project manager for Old Curzon Street Station, HS2

Contractor KN Circet has started work to refurbish the Grade I listed Old Curzon Street station in Birmingham, as part of the HS2 project.

The building, designed by architect Philip Hardwick and opened in 1838, originally served as the Birmingham terminus for the London and Birmingham Railway Co line that connected to London’s Euston station. It was damaged during the Blitz, and survived two applications for its demolition in the 1970s. It is now listed on the Heritage at Risk Register maintained by Historic England

Over the next 12 months, a team will carry out intricate restoration work on the building under KN Circet, which is working for HS2’s enabling works contractor LMJV (Laing O’Rourke and J Murphy & Sons).

Old Curzon Street Station staircase

Work will include a new steel structural frame to strengthen the building, a new lift giving access to all four levels, a new glass balustrade for the historic staircase, internal fit-out, roof repairs, structural repairs to the external facade, and a full clean of the external building masonry.

Companies on board so far to work with KN Circet include Solihull-based Umberslade doing the strip-out, Redditch-based Orton Group supplying mechanical and electrical design and installation, and Rugeley based J.F.E. Attridge Scaffolding Services.

Old Curzon Street station as viewed from a drone, as enabling works proceed in the background

KN Circet, trading as KN Network Services, has carried out heritage restoration projects across the UK railway network, predominantly in London and the South East. The company has won and been nominated for railway heritage awards for facade works at Lambeth North, South Kensington and Great Portland Street London Underground stations, and has also carried out facade works at Victoria Station and Waterloo Station for Network Rail.

Once work is complete at Old Curzon Street, the public space surrounding the station will feature the historic track alignments of the former goods yard that used to lie to its east, while the gardens and new eastern concourse facade have also been designed to complement the architecture of the building.

Detail of engraving by T Sulman depicting the Old Curzon Street Station from Illustrated London News (18 September 1865).

Mike Neary, project manager for LMJV, said: “This is a fantastic and truly unique opportunity for our teams to work on such an iconic building from Birmingham’s past, and it will be a privilege to bring this important building back to life.

“The exciting part of their job is exposing the different structures so they can assess how to restore them using the same traditional methods, such as how the floor joists have been put together. They’ll also be restoring many original features such as the fantastic staircase and the existing windows, replacing the internal doors like-for-like to meet new fire regulation standards, and also introducing accessibility features.

“HS2 is a wonderful project for Birmingham, giving these local contractors the opportunity to be part of Britain’s largest infrastructure project. We’re looking forward to working with our team of local specialists over the next 12 months.”

Russell Bailey, HS2 project manager for Old Curzon Street Station, said: “It’s fantastic to see work start on the restoration of one of Birmingham’s most iconic railway buildings, and it’s particularly great to see a team of local specialists bringing their skills to this intricate restoration. Over 300 companies in the West Midlands have already won work on HS2, so this is adding to the growing number of companies benefiting from contracts on the project which is supporting thousands of jobs in the region.

“The revamped building is integrated into HS2’s plans for the city’s landmark Curzon Street Station, which will be the first brand new intercity terminus station built in Britain since the 19th century. Work is set to start on building the new station in the next year, with the joint venture contractor Mace Dragodos set to create 1,000 jobs.”

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