London Paddington station, which is more usually referred to as simply Paddington station, is located in the centre of London, close to the Paddington basin of the Grand Union Canal and within easy walking distance of Hyde Park. It was built in 1854 and was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who is commemorated with a statue located at one of the entrances to the station. Paddington was one of the stations served by the metropolitan railway, which was the first underground system in the world and the forerunner of the modern Tube system. Underground trains first began stopping at Paddington as early as 1863. It is the London terminus for trains travelling from the following places:
Via the underground system, Paddington is also linked to the rest of London and it is the station to which the dedicated Heathrow Express travels.
There are 14 terminal platforms at the station with different platforms being dedicated to particular services. Platforms 6 and 7, for example, are used by the Heathrow Express, while numbers 15 and 16 are utilised by the Underground system via the Hammersmith and City Circle Lines. There is also a geographical split at the station, with the platforms at the south-western end being used by long distance trains, whilst those at the north-eastern end provide the terminus for local trains.
As is the case with many major train stations, Paddington offers a plethora of facilities over and above simply providing access to transport. It provides toilets, baby changing and showering rooms, as well as a left luggage office and photo booths. There are a large number of food and drink outlets within the station, including the following:
• Burger King
• Upper Crust
Perhaps the most prestigious outlet within the station complex, and one which many people travel to use even if they don’t have a train to catch, is Searcys Champagne Bar. This is a glamorous and exclusive destination serving 15 champagnes by the glass and a stunning 105 by the bottle. They also serve a range spirits, cocktails, wines and beer, as well as offering a food menu designed to go hand in hand with the champagnes being served. For just £18.50 you can begin or end a journey in style by treating yourself to a ‘tasting tray’, a selection of 3 contrasting yet complimentary styles of champagne.
Other shops within the station include a WH Smiths, a Monsoon and an Accesorize, whilst a medi centre offers non-emergency walk in medical services such as health screenings and travel vaccinations.
The station has featured in various works of fiction, the most famous, of course, being the books featuring Paddington Bear himself, who is celebrated with a statue at the station and a shop which sells themed memorabilia and souvenirs. Crime novelist Agatha Christie also wrote a book entitled 4.50 From Paddington, in which a character travelling by train from the station is the witness to a murder.