Belorussky Station, Moscow
In the second half of the 1860s, work began on laying the Moscow-Smolensk railway from Tverskaya Zastava in west Moscow. The line ran to Smolensk, and from there to Brest and then on to Warsaw. "The Emperor permitted the Smolensk zemstvo to carry out on its own account" surveys of the route. Smolensk industrialists who were interested in a connection with Moscow willingly gave money for the future railway.
In April 1867, the Moscow City Duma took a decision to allocate to the railway " empty plots of the city's land free of charge which may be necessary for the Moscow station and the line itself both within the city, and in general in the possession of the city..." On 23 April 1868, Tsar Alexander II gave permission "to begin work on a proposed railway from Smolensk to Moscow and to approve in general the direction of the line." All that remained was to find a site for the station.
The most convenient area was considered to be at the Tverskaya Zastava, which was fairly close to the city, while from the new line it would be possible to construct a connecting branch line with the Nikolayev line. The choice was also dictated by economic considerations: a large part of the land destined for the station and the line did not earn the city any revenue, so that the city's costs for the expropriation of private land and the demolition of buildings amounted to just 50,000 roubles.
The new railway did, however, pass through several racecourses. Nevertheless, the Governor-General, Prince V. A. Dolgorukov, who was also the president of the Imperial Moscow Racing Club, felt unable to meet the request of horse breeders for support "in order that the aforesaid line deviates from the racecourses as much as possible."
Construction of the station, which was given the name of Smolensk, began in late April 1869. Responsible for the construction of all the buildings and structures was the state councillor Nemchinov, who was also a leading businessman and owner of a brickworks. The Nemchinov brothers, who had founded a dacha holiday village in a Moscow suburb, requested that the local station be named in his honour, and today Nemchinovka station recalls the name of the entrepreneur. The station was built fairly quickly: by the beginning of September 1870, the two-storey stone building was already plastered.
The grand opening of the Moscow-Smolensk railway took place on 19 September 1870.
The new station, which was the sixth in total and the second-biggest (after Nikolayevsky) in Moscow, was written up by the press. The station has "a fairly nice building. With the opening of regular services on the Smolensk line, the whole area adjacent to Tverskaya Zastava and the four Yamsky streets, became much livelier. The price of houses and vacant land here have risen quite significantly already."
Due to the extension of the railway line from Smolensk to Brest , the railway station was renamed Brest in November 1871.
In the spring of 1896, in connection with the forthcoming coronation of Nicholas II, the famous architect Lev Kekushev was requested urgently to build an Imperial Pavilion to meet the imperial family at Brest station. By early May, a wooden tower had been erected on the right side of the station.
Inside the building, which had been built in a faux-Russian style, visitors admired the rich decoration. There was no shortage of funds available for the construction. The walls and ceilings of the Imperial Pavilion were covered with steel-coloured teak, the friezes and ceiling were decorated with gilded ornaments, and French furniture was installed.
The tower was divided into three parts. A reception area was in the centre, while the wings had covered glazed galleries, behind which were more covered galleries, which reached up to the platform but had no glass. The platform was crowned with an embossed national emblem. Nearby stood a flagpole, and on 6 May 1896, the imperial standard time was raised on the arrival of the royal train. The exit from the Imperial Pavilion to the station square was covered in a velvet carpet.
The Imperial Pavilion remained in service for over a decade to welcome grandees and notables and was dismantled only in 1908 during the construction of a modern railway station building.
Due to the growth of passenger traffic, Brest station became too small. At the beginning of the 1890s, the railway line had become double-track, but there was still only one departure platform. The station premises, especially for the third class, could not even accommodate the passengers from one train. The head of the railway, D. A. Krieger, appealed repeatedly to the Ministry of Communications from 1898 to allocate money to renovate and expand the station after the line became state-owned on 1 June 1896, but reconstruction began only in 1907.
The architect I. Strukov drew up a new plan for Brest station. The plan envisaged two buildings which converged at an obtuse angle. The angular part, which consisted of a single floor, was intended for royal rest and was called "The Tsar's Corner". The military engineer, General F. Metz, the new head of the line, played an active role in the construction.
By spring 1910, the right wing of the building was ready, and the station now had four departure platforms. The outside one served as both the Imperial platform and the platform for passenger transfers with a connecting branch line with the Nikolayevskaya main line.
The first phase of the station was officially opened on 25 May 1910. A ceremony dedicating the left wing took place on 26 February 1912.
The new station was beautiful and spacious, with an area 3 times that of the previous station. The reconstruction cost the treasury nearly a million roubles, but the money was not spent in vain. The architectural appearance of the building and its interior decoration were widely admired, as was the latest technical equipment in the telegraph and ticket offices, where for the first time in Moscow railway tickets printing machines were installed.
The press emphasised that "the whole building is made of iron and concrete and is fireproof." Built in the neo-classical style with elements of faux Gothic and Empire, the station really was very impressive. The building's facade was decorated with cartouches in the form of boards with railway emblems, and above the entrance to the passenger waiting rooms rose four graceful turrets with flagpoles.
The same year when the new Brest station was opened, Russia celebrated the centenary of the Napoleonic Wars.
In this regard, "in accordance with the most humble report by Mr. Minister of Communications (S. V. Rukhlov), on 4 May 1912 His Supreme Imperial Majesty's assent was given to renaming the Moscow-Brest railway the Alexander Railway."
From that time, the station was named Alexander and the locomotives and carriages were decorated with Alexander's three-dimensional monograms. Later, due to the high cost, the monograms were simply drawn on the walls of the rolling stock.
During World War I, Brest railway station was one of the first to be used on the front line. Trains departed for the west from Brest, while wounded soldiers were brought back here, where the first meal points were set up.
In August 1922, the Alexander and Moscow-Baltic lines were amalgamated into the Moscow-Belarus-Baltic, and the station was renamed Belorussky-Baltic.
In May 1936, after the next reorganisation of the railways, the station received the name it has had ever since - Belorussky. It was under this name that it was immortalised in the history of the Great Patriotic War as the station from which troop trains used to leave for the front in the name of the Great Victory.
Belorussky Station has been rebuilt several times, but thanks to skillful and careful renovation, we can still admire today the building's magnificent façade, mouldings and ornaments, which have enabled the station to retain its original appearance. Today Belarussky Station is not only a monument of Russian architecture, but also a modern railway station complex that meets international standards.