September 24, 2009 / 12:35 PM / 8 years ago

London's landmark Euston arch to be rebuilt

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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - London's Euston Station Arch, former gateway to one of the world's first mainline train terminuses and demolished in the 1960s despite a valiant campaign to save it, is finally to be rebuilt.

The arch was modeled on the Greek Acropolis and was hailed as the biggest of its kind when built in 1838.

It was pulled down during a major redevelopment of Euston train station -- much to the sorrow of the late Poet Laureate John Betjeman who called it possibly the most evocative and best-designed structures of the early 19th Century.

His campaign to save it ultimately proved unsuccessful but now the Euston Arch Trust aims to bring it back as part of an overall 1 billion pound ($1.64 billion) modernization project.

The trust is hoping to use the original stones, many of which were discarded in a river near the 2012 Olympic site in east London, some of which have been retrieved as part of the clean-up of the former industrial site.

"We believe the arch should play a central role in such a transformation, restoring to the capital one of the greatest buildings of the railway age, and a building of international significance," the trust said.

It follows the restoration and redevelopment of nearby St Pancras station, now the London terminus for Eurostar cross-channel services.

Construction of the 70-foot-high arch would cost an estimated 10 million pounds, which the trust hopes will be partly funded by letting out space when built.

A nightclub would be in the basement and a banqueting room in the attic, served by two lifts rising through the arch's Doric columns, according to plans.

Among those supporting the trust's plans are actor Michael Palin, star of "Monty Python" and "A Fish Called Wanda," and historian Dan Cruickshank, who helped track down the old stones.

"The enormous popularity of the restored St Pancras, soon to be followed by a restored King's Cross, has shown that celebration of the past and potential for the future are not mutually exclusive," Palin said in a statement.

"The restoration of Euston Arch would restore to London's oldest mainline terminus some of the character and dignity of its great neighbors."

The plans include restoring the arch with a combination of old and new stones or new stone from the quarry where the original stones were cut.

The terminus, which serves the north of England, covers the original site of the arch, but the trust said it could be built between two remaining lodges, if it secures planning permission.

Reporting by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Steve Addison

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