Lublin railway station
The official decision to build a railway station was made in March 1875. First test trains departed already in mid-August 1887.
The PKP (Polskie Koleje Państwowe - Polish State Railways) station in Lublin is located at plac Dworcowy (Station Square). The location was decided on only after fifteen years of negotiations. Other proposed sites were suburban areas of Ponikwoda, Czwartek, Tatary and Piaski.
The morrow is a most important day, of fundamental importance in the history of the country’s economy. (...) The Vistula road (...) is the biggest artery, the biggest link between the Black Sea and the Baltic. In the history of our province, the opening of this rail road marks an epoch.
This is how “Gazeta Lubelska” (the Lublin gazette) welcomed the official opening of the Vistula rail road (Kolej Nadwiślańska) on 29 August 1877. The railway connection between Lublin, Warsaw and Kovel (today in Ukraine) was indeed of utmost importance in the history of the city, affecting the pace of its urban and economic development.
The official decision to build a railway station was made in March 1875. Frumkin, Gvozdyev and Zhuravlev won the tender to build the Lublin station. About 200 workers from Kaluga governorate worked at the construction site, supervised by engineer Władysław Kraczkiewicz.
Construction of the station aroused enormous interest among the citizens. The press in Lublin reported:
The works at the rail road in Piaski near Lublin are progressing rapidly: the brick main station, quite spacious, has already been built up to the first floor level (...). The site was chosen quite cleverly, and it is one of the most suitable and accessible for this purpose. Construction of the station has already progressed so far that the building will be roofed before winter, yet it appears that it will be somewhat too slender for a class 2 station, that the one in Lublin is intended to be. Thanks to the favourable weather, the construction works at the Lublin station of the Vistula road are progressing further and further and nearing completion; the main building of the station is finished and only lock smithery, carpentry and stove fitting works are being carried out inside, and the underpinning of the platforms is being set (...). Every day, the railway station is being adorned with new ornaments. The lawns are already greening, the trees are covered with rich foliage, even the more eager flowers are beginning to bloom. The underpinning of the passenger platform is already set, the iron pipes of the fountains (these are the first permanent fountains in Lublin), in the hands of proper masters, are changing into artificial rocks from which a reinvigorating spring will flow. The inhabitants of the city do not refuse to help, to mention only Mr. Karol Vetter and Mr. Stanisław Węgielski, of whom the first donated a great number of flower seedlings and even tree roses, while the other donated many different trees, to adorn the station (...).
“Gazeta Lubelska” (Lublin gazette), 9 June 1877
First test trains departed already in mid-August 1887 and the Vistula railway was opened on 29 August 1887. The audience gathered to watch the ceremony was surprised by a fearsome hailstorm with lightnings and hailstones the size of pigeon eggs, which made it impossible to start the opening ceremony. Construction of the railway led to many changes, the problem of illuminating the city was solved by replacing the oil lighting with a gas one. The contract to build a gasworks was given to engineer Adolf Suligowski who launched the project in 1882, eventually illuminating Lublin with 238 gas lamps. Another problem that had to bee solved was the adjustment of clocks to the railway time. The post office clock was moved by more than forty minutes. The toll house on the road to Zamość, located until then on the eastern side of the bridge across the Bystrzyca river, was moved away from the route of the railway.
Shortly after the grand opening of the station, first words of criticism appeared in the press: The railway station, although looks sizeable on the outside, will, as it appears, be too small inside. At that time, only 27 thousand people lived in Lublin. The data regarding speeds of the trains of that time is also interesting. According to the first timetable, the estimated time of journey from Lublin to Warsaw was almost 7 hours, and the speed of a passenger train was 35 versts per hour (23,2 mph), while cargo trains reached 30 versts per hour. Immediately after the opening, a medical facility was set at the station in order to treat the wounded coming on sanitary trains from the Balkans. Miscreants arrested at the station and on the trains, and people suspected of “inobservance” were taken to the railway police rooms, located in the left wing of the building. Later on, the railway police moved to a wooden barrack next to the station, at the site of today’s post building. Despite that, the station was becoming more and more cramped.
Planning a railway line between Lublin and Łuków, as well as the so-called Tomaszów railroad (from Lublin, by way of Bychawa and Szczebrzeszyn, to Tomaszów and Bełżec), the board of the Vistula railway decided to expand the station by means of, among others, adding another wing on the western side. Stationmaster’s office and the telegraph were located in a one-storey annex. The rooms in the main building that became available, were used to arrange a lounge for ladies and the small corridor between the 1st and the 2nd class waiting rooms will be adapted for a gentlemen’s lounge (...). As a result, the space available to the passengers was expanded by around 100 square metres.The remodelling was conducted in the years 1894-1894, by engineer Jan Albrycht. The building’s appearance became less sumptuous than on the day of the opening. The trees and the lawns disappeared, replaced by a big square paved with cobblestones and surrounded by grim tenement houses on the side of the city and the gas plant buildings on the other side. The benefits for Lublin from having a railway connection with Warsaw and Kovel were obvious. In ten years, the number of inhabitants doubled, reaching 65 thousand in 1910, new companies and factories were established, the city thrived and expanded.
In may 1898, modernization of the Vistula railway commenced. The girders of the railway bridge over the Bystrzyca river were replaced, which allowed the speed of the trains to be raised to 45 versts per hour.
The station was designed by Witold Lanci, constructor working for the Vistula Railway Society (Towarzystwo Kolei Nadwiślańskiej).
The building has an eclectic style.
The station deserves greater recognition and popularization, all the more so because in 1974, it was registered in the Lublin voivodeship register of historic monuments. The trouble is that, because of the building’s status, related material is not easily accessible. Another considerable problem concerning the Lublin station are its environs. In the case of the Lublin rail road, we deal with a culturally degenerated landscape, created when man, through his economic activities and as a result of his unawareness or wish for excessive profit, disrupts the natural balance of the phytocoenosis, thus provoking permanent and progressively appearing unfavourable changes (Bogdanowski 1976). Therefore, what is lacking is an appealing architectural and landscape complex that would boost the appeal of the building, as Dworcowy Square, on the contrary, does not encourage to sightsee in Lublin.
Dates of construction and remodelling
The official decision to build a railway station was made in 1875. First test trains departed already in mid-August 1887 and the Vistula railway was opened on 29 August 1887. The present form of the station is a result of a thorough remodelling and lowering the square’s grade line by more than a meter, carried out in the years 1923-1924. The remodelling followed the design in a “manor house style” by engineer Romuald Miller, head of the department of architecture at the regional directorate of the state railways (Dyrekcja Okręgowa Kolei Państwowych, DOKP) in Warsaw. Then the building lost the features of a typical Tsarist train station and gained the eclectic ones.
Compiled by Kamila L. Boguszewska
Edited by Monika Śliwińska
Translated by Jarosław Kobyłko
Bogdanowski J., Architektura krajobrazu, PWN, Kraków 1979, s. 157–208.
Chmielak J. Jakimińska G, Polańska M., Historia miasta Lublina: informator do wystawy stałej w Muzeum Historii Miasta Lublina, Lublin 2000.
Gawrecki H., O dawnym Lublinie. Szkice z przeszłości miasta, Lublin 1974.
Ilustrowany przewodnik po Lublinie, Lublin 1931.