When it was completed in 1906, the new North Eastern Railway Headquarters was described by the Yorkshire Herald as 'a huge palace of business.'
At the time, the North Eastern was one of the most powerful public companies in Britain and the Board had determined that a new headquarters was required to reflect this status.
It was decided that only the best materials should be used in the construction, despite the fact that the region was, at the time, in recession.
The design was carried out jointly by William Bell, who produced the basic structural design, and Horace Field, who worked on the exterior embellishments and interior detail. Their design is believed to have won a silver medal at an exhibition in Paris in 1904.
Foundations were laid in early 1902, with work on the main structure comencing in May that year. Four years and five million bricks later, it was complete.
To ensure the best possible finish, the bricks used in facing the buidling were handmade. Ancaster and Portland stone were used to dress the upper floors and black and white Belgian marble was used in the entrance hall. Splendid terrazzo with Roman mosaic margins was laid in the corridors, whilst patterned wood blocks were used in the offices.
The building was topped by a weather vane - a representation of a North Eastern Railway
Class 'S' 4-6-0.
The vast Board Room - measuring 51 feet by 28 feet - was to be the building's flagship space. It went on to house what was, at its time, the biggest board room table in Britain. The windows were double glazed - an innovative feature at the time.
To mark the opening a Conversazione was hosted by Alexander Butterworth, North Eastern's General Manager. Staircases and corridors were carpeted in crimson, while Herr Iff's orchestra from London played at the top of the main staircase.
It's a testament to the quality of the building’s design and construction that it is little changed today. Even the double glazed windows in the Boardroom remain.
Now that the Grand is completed it won't be the first time that the site has been the location of a hotel. In 1861 the York Post Office Directory advertised 'Halliwell's North Eastern Hotel' at the same address. It announces a 'First Class Hotel, near the Minster and Museum, with excellent stabling' - similar, then, in most respects at least, to The Grand.
With thanks to Stuart Rankin's 'A Huge Palace of Business' for original source material.