Station to Station
by Steven Parissien. Phaidon, 1997. 240pp. £39.99
We all love railway stations - the excitement and promise of travel, the hustle and bustle, the flickering departure board, the clock, writes David Taylor. Steven Parissien's well-illustrated Station to Station brings all that back, with the addition of train paraphernalia (tickets, stamps and posters depicting the glamour of travel from around the world), in- depth accounts of symbolic structures, and a look at the social, political, and filmic roles that stations have played.
The book is, as the David Bowie album-inspired title suggests, a journey from station to station interspersed with stills from great black-and- white movies such as Brief Encounter (set in a train shed in Carnforth which, Parissien tells us, was 'ruthlessly demolished' in the 1960s). Later, a moody Anthony Perkins stares out at us from a derelict Gare d'Orsay, location for Orson Welles' film of The Trial (1962) before in reality it became a rifle range, a car park, a theatre, and, from 1974, an auction house. Then Mitterrand saw in the new gallery: government intervention sadly lacking in the case of Euston Arch, says Parissien, who takes pains to list 'thoughtless' additions and near-escapes from demolition.
His journey takes us by way of the monumental age, the colonial statements, the Beaux-Arts 'apogee' (including New York's Grand Central), Expressionism, and the latterday Modern Movement, as exemplified by Grimshaw's Waterloo and Calatrava's glazed arched fans at Lyon. The book has good, often luscious photographs and drawings rich in historical resonance. Station to Station is an interesting, at times fascinating, read for architects, historians and anoraks alike.