Broadstone terminus

Broadstone terminus

In Brief

In Lotus Eaters Bloom imagines that the couple leaving the Grosvenor Hotel are "Off to the country: Broadstone probably," and in Wandering Rocks Mr. Dudley White stands on Array Quay "undecided whether he should arrive at Phibsborough more quickly by a triple change of tram or by hailing a car or on foot through Smithfield, Constitution hill and Broadstone terminus." Both passages refer to a railway station in the northwest part of inner Dublin, at the top of Constitution Hill between Smithfield and Phibsborough. In 1904 it served as the terminus, or endpoint, of the Midland Great Western Railway Company, whose trains went to the west of Ireland.

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In the 1840s the MGWR purchased the Royal Canal so that it could build a railway line along it to Mullingar and from there to Galway. For its Dublin terminus, the MGWR chose land beside a "harbour" at the end of a southerly spur of the canal that ran parallel to the Phibsborough Road. The canal extension allowed goods to be offloaded from ships and then carried to transatlantic ships in the west. The company commissioned Irish architect John Skipton Mulvany to design a monumental station for the site, whose name refers not to the building's granite blocks but to the nearby passage of the Finglas Road over the Bradogue River. (Bradóg means "young salmon" in Irish, and the Norse word steyn probably first referred to a simple stone bridge.) The station opened for business in 1850 and was extensively remodeled in 1861. Starting in 1878 all the MGWR's trains were constructed in workshops located just south and west of it.

An article on the Archiseek website documents the magnificence achieved in the 1861 renovations by quoting from a story in the Freeman's Journal: "Today or tomorrow the alterations which have been for some months in course of preparation, come into effect at Broadstone Terminus. To avoid the inconvenience and possible dangers of changing rails as hitherto in leaving or arriving the trains were compelled to do, the platforms have been altered from one side of the building to the other. The south-west will, in future, be the departure side, the north-east the arrival; the travellers leaving Dublin passing the terminus and reaching the platform by a handsome collonade [sic] supported by metal pillars, and through a spacious ticket office. On this the departure platform will now be found with waiting rooms...opening on a corridor 300 feet in length.

"On the opposite side the arrival platform has now been formed. It opens on a magnificent collonade, about fifty feet in width by 600 feet in length. This is appropriated to vehicles of every description, which can leave its inclosure with the utmost celerity....The interior of the station is being further beautified by the painting in bright colours of the roof, pillars, and delicate iron work of the spacious and graceful shed—the building, altogether, presenting a railway terminus in every way worthy of a great and enterprising company."

In the 1920s the MGWR combined with the Great Southern and Western Railway, whose terminus was Kingsbridge Station, to form the Great Southern Railway. This consolidation and the filling in of the canal spur, which had been happening in stages for decades, made the Broadstone station largely useless. In 1937 it was closed to passenger traffic and became a maintenance depot, and in 1961 it closed altogether. Today the building serves as the headquarters and garage of Bus Éireann, whose long-distance coaches connect to central Dublin via a Luas tram stop and a Dublin Bus depot next door. For many decades the Victorian glory of the station steadily decayed, but in 2021 Dublin Bus completed a €15 million restoration and redevelopment.

JH 2022
 Cabs at the Broadstone Terminus in a photograph taken some time after 1877, when the harbor in front of the station was filled in. Source: www.pinterest.
  Railway Junction Diagram produced by the Railway Clearing House in 1912, showing MGWR lines in yellow, the canal extension to Broadstone Terminus, and the station's passenger entrance and cattle gate. The map also shows Dublin's three other major train stations: Kingsbridge at lower left, Westland Row at lower right, and Amiens Street north of Westland Row. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
  The Broadstone in a photograph taken some time before the harbor was filled in. Source:
  2020 photograph by Laurel Lodged of the Broadstone building, now a bus depot. Source: Wikimedia Commons.