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Liverpool Street Railway Station was built on the site of the original Bethlem Royal Hospital, was opened to traffic on 2 February 1874 by the Great Eastern Railway and was completely operational from 1 November 1875. From this date the original terminal, Bishopsgate, closed to passengers.
The new station was designed by the Eastern's chief engineer, Edward Wilson and was built by John Mowlem and Co on a site which had been occupied by Bethlem Royal Hospital from the 13th century to the 17th century. A Corporation of London plaque commemorating the station's construction hangs on the wall of the adjoining former Great Eastern Hotel, which was designed by Charles Barry (junior) (son of Sir Charles Barry) and his brother Edward Middleton Barry, and also built by John Mowlem & Co.
The station was named after the street on which it stands, which in turn was named in honour of British Prime Minister Lord Liverpool, having been built as part of an extension of the City of London towards the end of his term in office.
The construction of the station was due to the desire of the company to gain a terminal closer to the city than the one opened by the predecessor Eastern Counties Railway, at Shoreditch, that had opened on 1 July 1840. This station was renamed "Bishopsgate" in 1846.
The construction proved extremely expensive due to the cost of acquiring property and many people were displaced due to the large scale demolitions. The desire to link the GER lines to those of the sub-surface Metropolitan Railway, a link seldom used and relatively soon abandoned, also meant that the GER's lines had to drop down to below ground level from the existing viaducts east of Bishopsgate. This means that there are considerable gradients leading out of the station. Lord Salisbury, who was chairman of the Great Eastern in 1870, said that the Liverpool Street extension was "one of the greatest mistakes ever committed in connection with a railway."
The station was the first place in London to be hit by German Gotha bomber aircraft during World War I. The May 1917 bombing, when the station took a direct hit from 1,000 pounds of bombs, killed 162 people.
During World War II a bomb that landed in Bishopsgate completely shattered the glass roofing.
The station was extensively modified between 1985 and 1992, including bringing all the platforms in the main shed up to the same end point and constructing a new underground booking office, but its facade, Victorian cast-iron pillars and the memorial for Great Eastern Railway employees who died in the Great War were retained. The redevelopment coincided with the closure and demolition of neighbouring Broad Street station and the construction of the Broadgate development in its place. Liverpool Street was officially re-opened by HM The Queen in 1991. At this time that the giant timetable board, which is suspended above the station concourse, was installed at great expense. However due to technical difficulties there was a long delay after the official opening before it became operational. It was one of the last remaining mechanical "flapper board" display boards at a UK railway station and certainly the biggest, but was removed from service in September 2007, to be replaced by electronic boards.