York is a city of astonishing architectural feats. The Grand is one of them. Originally built in 1906 as a ‘Palace of Business’ for the North Eastern Railway Company, then one of the richest businesses in Britain, the building is bursting with original features and architecture. The Grand was restored to the splendour of its Edwardian heyday during its transformation to The Grand Hotel in 2010, a time when the railways were central to the life of the nation. Look carefully and you will see reminders of this proud history everywhere.
One of the four great railway companies to emerge up during the Industrial Revolution, The North Eastern Railway (NER) was founded in 1854. At that time, its railway route had a length of 720 miles stretching from Leeds to the Yorkshire Coast, and from York up through the North East up to Berwick.
By the late 1800s the board of the North Eastern Railway had decided it needed a headquarters that reflected its standing as one of the most powerful public companies in Britain. Its HQ was already in York, located within the upper floor of the original station (which has recently been converted into offices for City of York Council). NER acquired several plots opposite the station building and work on the new offices began in 1900.
The design was carried out jointly by William Bell, who produced the basic structural design, and Horace Field, who worked on the exterior embellishments and interior detail. Their design is believed to have won a silver medal at an exhibition in Paris in 1904. It was decided that only the best materials should be used in the construction, despite the fact that the country was, at the time, in recession. The interior of the building is typified by high ceilings, tall windows, lofty arches and wide open corridors and spaces. These, in combination with the use of Belgian marble and creamy Huddlestone stone lend the building a very light, airy and spacious feel. The building is also unaffected by outside noise despite its city centre location, the original building having been installed with double-glazing to keep out the noise of the trams that used to run by it.
Known to the Romans as Eboracum, Eoforwick to the Saxons and Jorvik to
the Vikings, York is one of England’s sophisticated and historic cities. In
discovering the rich city, one can see that every aspect of York’s modern life
is linked with its past. From fine designer shops, exclusive restaurants, bars,
cafes and evening entertainment the attractions are endless. Stroll around,
be it day or night through the pleasant traffic-free streets or take a Yorkboat
tour along the magnificent River Ouse. You definitely don’t want to miss the
wonderful treasures, Fairfax House, Georgian townhouse, and Merchant
Adventurers’ Hall tucked away in historic cobbled streets of the city.