Chester Station is a Hub of Activity

The station was a hub of activity with vast numbers of people traveling to North Wales or on the Western Front. It was also a meeting point for locals.

It’s speculated that this is one reason why Chester was never replaced during the B&A’s late 19th century upgrades with more imposing stone structures. Another reason may be because of the town’s reputation as the “cheapest station on the line.”

What is above the main entrance?

Chester is a unique station; it’s split into two distinct parts, with the entrance hall linking to platforms 1 and 2, and the sheltered area of Platforms 4-7 linked to the main building via a footbridge. Look up at the huge wooden beams and you’ll see beautiful owls carved by royal sculptor John Thomas. These were designed to frighten away the feral pigeons that love to nest on trains.

The TTC has added an extra exit from the platform level to the street as part of its Easier Access program. It opened on September 2, 2020.

What is the history of Chester Station?

The arrival of trains allowed villagers to take trips to other towns and cities for shopping and other purposes. They also gave people a faster and more reliable way to travel than canal boats or stagecoaches.

In the 19th century, Chester Station was one of the busiest train stations in the country. It was used by passengers, freight, and mail. During World War I, the station served a large number of soldiers who were going to training camps or to the Western Fronts in France and Belgium.

The current building at Chester Station is a simple Italianate structure. It was built in 1850, though it may have been earlier.

What is the history of the building?

The station was opened in 1840. It was an exciting time as the railway was a revolutionary form of transport. It had many advantages over canals and stagecoaches which were slower and more expensive.

This prompted Chester to blossom into quite the railroad town. At one time about 150 families had someone working for the railroad.

The clock on the front of the building was originally located right in the middle of the facade but when the Queen Hotel across City Road was built it obstructed the view for passengers coming from that direction so it was moved to its current position.

What is the history of the building’s clock?

During the First World War this station was an important hub for transporting troops and ammunition. It also played a little known role in helping to develop the concept of time-keeping.

Initially this was done by using the ship’s chronometer which was synchronised to an observatory clock. This allowed the crew to see if the chronometer had drifted during the voyage, so that the correct time could be set for the next departure from the port.

The railway age began in Chester with the opening of lines to Birkenhead and then, in 1848, through to Shrewsbury. This gave access to a national network with London Euston.

What is the history of the building’s roof?

The building’s roof features two carved wooden owls. These owls are believed to be used to deter pigeons from nesting on the roof. Occasionally, train passengers will call the RSPCA with reports of owls trapped on the station’s roof.

The station was built to serve four rail lines, including the London and North Western Railway, the Chester & Holyhead Railway, the Shrewsbury & Chester Railway, and the Chester & Birkenhead Railway. It was designed by architect Francis Thompson. It was one of the largest stations in the world upon its completion. Thompson also designed the station at Derby.

What is the history of the building’s chimney?

The station’s chimney has a fascinating history. In its early years it was used to help the railroad to transport iron ore from the mines to the furnace, and on to other destinations.

This helped Chester become quite the railroad town. At one time 150 families had someone who worked for the railroad. This earned the town a reputation as being the “cheapest town on the line.” Consequently few tickets were sold at the station, due to the high volume of citizens traveling on a pass.

Speculation runs that this is why the Boston and Albany never replaced this building with more imposing stone stations like those they built elsewhere along the line. Another reason could be that the depot was situated with tracks on both sides, making replacement difficult without disrupting rail traffic.

What is the history of the building’s facade?

For many years Chester station was a busy and popular place. However in the 1960s and 1970s traffic began to decline as road transport became more popular.

This is probably because the station was a long distance from the city centre, and buses provided a quicker and cheaper service. It is also possible that the increasing number of cars meant people preferred to drive instead of walking or riding a bicycle.

In the 1920s Philadelphia Electric was engaged in a bitter public relations battle with Morris Llewellyn Cooke, who had recently advocated “Giant Power,” a plan to reduce the cost of electricity for rural customers. This conflict may have influenced the stately design of the new Chester Station.

What is the history of the building’s windows?

Unlike most of the other BLOOR-DANFORTH subway stations, Chester’s entrance building features windows in addition to doors. A row of metal-framed windows runs along the front of the building, creating a distinctive look that has become a hallmark of the station’s architecture.

The station is located halfway between Broadview and Pape Avenues, likely chosen as a way to serve local traffic that would otherwise be bypassed by the subway. Today, the station’s ridership is relatively low compared to other stops in the neighborhood, but it remains a crucial link for the community.

The station’s Gateway newsstand closed in 2009 due to a lack of foot traffic, but it has since reopened as an alternative newsstand and artists space.

What is the history of the building’s doors?

In 2015, local artist Jess Dobkin spearheaded a fundraising campaign to turn the building’s newsstand into an alternative newstand and artists space. After a year of donations and volunteer work the station opened to the public.

The newstand offers a wide selection of food, drink, snacks and other goodies for train riders. It also sells a number of TTC-themed items such as tote bags, cookies and dog hoodies. It also has a few model owls on the roof, which are supposed to scare off the resident pigeons.

Despite the presence of parking at Chester, many passengers choose to ignore it and park in nearby streets. This has led to problems at times.

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