Tap to start your tour in the grand hall of Broadstone Station. Look around in 360 degrees, and walk by tapping the circles. The blue dots will tell you more. Head up the main staircase to see the office where the murder took place. If you have Google Cardboard or other VR headset, you can enjoy a full 3D experience by tapping the ‘goggles’ icon.
WHEN BROADSTONE STATION was opened in 1847, it was a bustling harbourside passenger terminus.
Today, it is almost six decades since the last train left the platform in 1961. The grand station building just off the Phibsboro Road – designed in a neo-Egyptian style with colonnades and a fine dome over the station hall – is now the headquarters of Bus Éireann, its original railway shed used as a working garage for the bus fleet. Few people get to see the inside.
But with the arrival of a new Luas stop right outside the main station door, it has suddenly become more visible to Dublin’s commuters than at any time since its days of operation.
During the 19th century, trains ran from here to all points west: to Mullingar, Athlone, Galway and as far as Clifden; to Westport and Achill Island; and to Cavan and Sligo. It was a key part of Dublin’s infrastructure and a flashpoint during the Easter Rising.
And in 1855, it was the site of a gruesome murder over the station’s money. On the evening of November 13, railway clerk George Samuel Little was working late at night in his upstairs office at Broadstone, the day’s takings in the room with him.
He was found dead the next morning lying on the floor, head towards the window.
The takings of the ticket office – up to £200 in “notes, gold and silver” according to contemporary newspaper reports – were stolen. The murderer was thought to have escaped out of the office window. A local handyman, James Spollen, was arrested and charged in a lurid trial - it was described as “having excited more interest… than any criminal prosecution of the present century” – which saw his wife give evidence against him. But he was acquitted.
That office – room 8A, at the time – is still in use by Bus Eireann, and hasn’t changed much (decor aside) since the death of George Samuel Little. It can be explored as part of our tour, above.
Source: The Illustrated Times, July 11 1857
Broadstone makes an appearance at several key points in Dublin’s history. During World War One, many employees of the Midland Great Western Railway joined the British Army, and 49 of them were killed in action. A bronze plaque was erected in the main station hall in their memory, and remains there today.
On Easter Monday 1916, the station was taken over by rebels with the aim of preventing British troops entering Dublin by train. Volunteers blew up the rails, and set a steam locomotive running out of control along the line to the west. (It jumped the tracks and was destroyed at Liffey Junction, now the Luas Cross City depot). Broadstone was retaken the following day by the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who had fought their way up the railway line to the terminus.
During the War of Independence in 1920, an Irish Volunteer – Joseph Howley from Galway – was assassinated at Broadstone by the infamous Igoe Gang of British agents.
But it is only in the last few months that the name Broadstone has reappeared in the public transport map of Dublin, with the new Luas line running past the front door. Now you can explore the hidden interior, too – just check out our VR tour above.
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