The history of the old station

The arrival of the railways heralded a revolution in transport in the 19th century. The first railway link reached Solingen in 1867 on the route between Cologne and Wuppertal via Ohligs and Haan. A branch line was built from Ohligs to Solingen. Twenty years later another line brought the railways into the centre of Solingen. This was the so-called “Corkscrew Line” from the Wuppertal suburb of Vohwinkel via Gräfrath and Wald. The predecessor to today’s central station dated back to this time. The South Station was small, narrow and low, and its two platforms were far apart from each other. After the opening of the Müngsten Bridge (1897) and the railway link to Remscheid, the volume of passengers and frequency of trains grew so rapidly that before long the station was too small. Its location was unfavourable right from the start. Nonetheless a new building was constructed on the same spot to save any extra expense.

The new station was officially opened in October 1910 and renamed the “Central Station“ in 1913. A steel pedestrian bridge over the railway line made it safer for visitors to get to the platforms. It was hoped that giving the building a representative design would usher in a new chapter in the history of Solingen railway stations. People dreamt of hotels and well-to-do businesses in the vicinity. The local protestant church also had high hopes for the future and offered its nearby plot of land for sale. But there were no takers. The last hopes disappeared with the outbreak of the Second World War. During an air raid on the centre of Solingen on the 4th November 1944 Solingen Central Station was so badly damaged that it was put out of action for ever.

The destruction of the town centre and the station gave the citizens of Solingen a chance to implement radical new plans. As in 1898 the town wanted to move the station nearer to the centre to improve transport links. But once again the railway company rejected these proposals. The rebuilding of the central station only began once more in the mid 1950s. The upshot was a building remarkable for its light airy entrance hall and high glass façade. The oval shape of the building was indicated by two rounded corners, repeated inside in the shape of three small pavilions containing a flower shop, a newsagent and a tobacconist. Next to the entrance of the building with its ticket offices, information area and luggage lockers, stood a 22 metre high station tower.

That said, the planned representative square in front of the station remained as a simple stretch of grass with an asphalt pavement and the next trolley bus stop was some distance away in the Kölner Straße. From the 1950s passenger numbers declined continually. There were no new investments made in the building and services were considerably reduced. After German Rail turned the station into a one-man business in 1968, ticket sales were only possible at machines. In 1978 the station tower whose upkeep had been financed by the town in the face of huge protests, was finally demolished. In 1993 the station building, the bridge and the signal box on the west side of the station were all put under a protection order.

The Forum for Product Design and the South Park complex were created during “Regionale 2006“ in Solingen. At the same time two new railway stations, "Mitte" and "Grünewald" were opened, whilst the station in Ohligs was designated as the new main station.