Midland Rooms at Temple Meads Old Station

Midland Rooms, Temple Meads Old Station - from main station entrance

Network Rail have announced plans to refurbish a range of empty and derelict rooms in the old ‘Midland Shed’ at Bristol Temple Meads Station. Plans for the Midland Rooms include new toilet facilities and spaces suitable for a cafe, convenience store and a home and lifestyle or gift shop.

Temple Meads currently lacks good places where people can meet, wait for friends or part company. The Midland Rooms are ideally situated for this, being outside the ticket barriers but close to the station’s main entrance. Modern, accessible toilets will also be a welcome addition.

Derelict

The Midland Rooms are located to the left of the main entrance to Temple Meads Station, between the covered car park and the station approach road. They were built in the 1870’s, when Brunel’s original terminus was extended into the Joint Station. The Midland Railway took over the old GWR terminus, and these rooms were used as offices, waiting rooms and for other ancilliary purposes.

British Rail closed this part of Temple Meads station in 1965. Since then these rooms have been largely unused and have fallen into disrepair.

Midland Rooms, Temple Meads Old Station - Archway with car passing in to covered car park
Midland Rooms, Temple Meads Old Station – a car passes through the arch between two of the proposed units. The green masonry is clear evidence of a long-term roof leaks.

In the 1990’s British Rail started work on refurbishing these rooms, but abandoned the scheme after removing rotten floors and decaying plasterwork.

Grade I listed

Bristol Temple Meads has Grade I listed status. This means that Historic England consider it to be of exceptional historical or architectural importance, and worthy of the strongest level of protection.

But without a suitable use, even the best buildings tend to fall into disrepair.

The Midland Rooms currently consist of ten or more small offices and service rooms. Over the years they have been partitioned and adapted, but despite decades of neglect much of the original fabric remains.

Midland Rooms, Temple Meads Old Station - from inside Midland Shed
Midland Rooms seen from inside Midland Shed

These proposals involve creating three new retail spaces together with modern toilet facilities. Some internal walls must be removed to open up the space. Where this is done ‘nibs’ will be left to indicate where they were. Minor changes will also be made to some doorways and windows. This will be done in a way that matches GWR’s alterations from the 1930’s.

Archway and Subway

We were surprised that these plans do not address to arched entrance currently used by vehicles entering the covered car park in the Midland Shed. This passes between two of the retail units, and could presumably be a feature of this development once the car park closes.

Midland Rooms - old underpass
Stairs down to subway under Temple Meads Old Station

Also excluded is the staircase down to the disused subway, between the toilets and the third unit. Finding a use for this would be challenging, not least because of accessibility. But we think it is an interesting feature which should at least be made visible.

Positive

We welcome these plans, which will play a part in the renaissance of Temple Meads. They are part of the masterplan which will over time transform the Midland Shed into a destination in its own right. The consultation period for these plans has ended, but you can see them on the Bristol City Council Planning Portal.


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