site unseen: Barnes Railway Station, London SW13

Share
Related Topics
Architecture is the one art which affects us all, whether we like it or not. People can choose not to visit museums, theatres, cinemas or art galleries, but everyone's world is shaped by the buildings around us.

Lively public debate is therefore essential - and whatever one thinks of Prince Charles's contribution, at least he got people arguing about architecture. And the row he sparked was nothing compared with the "Battle of Styles" fought out in the early 19th century when Goths and Classicists went head to head.

Architects were supposedly on one side or the other. Either you favoured straight lines and classical restraint, or you were passionate about Gothic pointed arches, nobs and crockets. It was an architectural cold war in which no prisoners were taken.

In fact, of course, the best architects proved adept at several styles, just as they always had been. Sir Christopher Wren, for example, is justly known for St Paul's Cathedral and his superb Classical churches dotted throughout the City of London - but he was also responsible for a couple of Gothic gems (the churches of St Mary Aldermary and St Dunstan's in the East). Two hundred years later, Sir George Gilbert Scott created both St Pancras station and the very different Government Offices in Whitehall.

Wren's versatility was also echoed by Sir William Tite, one of whose finest creations celebrates its 150th anniversay this year. Tucked away on Barnes Common, this Tudor-looking structure is distinguished by its shapely red brick and tall chimneys. At first glance it looks like a gatekeeper's lodge or even a folly, but is in reality a railway station, completed in 1846.

Tite's other works demonstrate that for him variety was clearly the spice of architectural life. The stately Royal Exchange in the heart of the City of London rubs shoulders with the Gothic entrance to Norwood Cemetery in south London, and the peculiar church of St James, Gerrards Cross is different again from Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey.

But perhaps the best way to appreciate Sir William's talents is to visit the Tudor-style station at Barnes, hop back on the train, journey two stops further along the line and then get off again at Chiswick railway station.

Here is a chaste and classical little building, simple and austere. Its architect? Indeed, Sir William Tite.

It would be nice to think that railway privatisation will lead to a renaissance in station architecture...

Barnes Railway Station is in Rocks Lane, London SWI3

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Real Staffing - Leeds - £18k+

£18000 - £27000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sales - Trainee Recruitment Co...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Progressive Rec.

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Progressive Recruitment are cu...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

 

Careful, Mr Cameron. Don't flirt with us on tax

Chris Blackhurst
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices