The building of NovaCard

The old Nizhny Novgorod station building and terminus of the Timiryazevo-Nizhny Novgorod, railway line, better known as the Romodanovsky (Kazan) railway station, is located on the right bank of the river Oka at the end of Chernigovskaya street at No. 1 Kazan square.

A hundred years ago this was a busy street with a port and a station. The two hundred and seventy two verst (180 mile) long Timiryazevo-Nizhny Novgorod line was built by the Moscow-Kazan Railway Company, in which Karl Fedorovich von Mekk was one of the key figures. He was a Russian railway engineer - and one of the fathers of the Russian rail system.

The official date of construction of the railway station, as indicated in the protection documents is 1904 (although construction began in 1900). The classical station building stood out amongst the merchant architecture of Nizhny Novgorod. An All-Russian commercial and art exhibition was held in Nizhny Novgorod in 1896. After the exhibition a branch of the Engineering society was created in the city, the main function of which was to connect the city with a railway. The society developed the Nizhny Novgorod-Kazan railway line project. Rather than a bridge across the Oka it was decided to build the railway lines along the shore of the river. The right bank of the river Oka near the Degtyarevs and Bashkirovs flour mill dock was chosen as the location for the railway station.

The route of the railway alongside the river Oka was very picturesque as it gradually climbed to Myza station. The line passed the outskirts of the settlement of Romodanovo to the north of Mordovia. The station at this junction changed its name from Romodanovo, to Timiryazevo, and finally in 1922 to Red Junction. The new town station beside the quay on the river Oka changed its name too: firstly, Romodanovsky, then in 1903 Arzamas and then to Kazan. In a timetable from 1913 we can find three routes operating from the Romodanovsky railway station to Lukyanovo, Timiryazevo and Kharkov. In 1937 long-distance trains left there for Kharkov, Ruzaevka anf Arzamas, and three local trains left for Kudma, one other which was destined for Metallist station in the town of Pavlovo. In the 1950s the most popular route in this direction to Kazan was opened. In the autumn of 1902 L.N.Andreev wrote in his essay Volga and Kama about the trip from Romodanovsky station. Besides the station Nizhny Novgorod-Kazan had two depots (locomotive and wagon) which were dismantled in 1965 but had worked with cargoes particularly those in transshipment from river transport. In 1936 -1945 the station belonged to the Kazan railway and then to Gorky.

In 1974 there were several landslips in Nizhny Novgorod and one of them blocked the track between Myza and Romodanovsky stations. As the Sartakov railway bridge had previously come into operation across the river Oka and successfully connected the right and left-bank railways on the outskirts of the city, it was decided to close Romodanovsky railway station. The track from Myza station to Gorky-Kazan was dismantled. So the station building started slowly falling into disrepair. In 1993 the station building had been listed as an architectural monument but this did help to save the condition of the building.

Although already closed the building was destined to become a station once more in the epic 1970s film based on the Road to Calvary byTolstoy.

In 2001 NovaCard bought the building and it was decided to restore it. The Romodanovsky station reconstruction project was under the auspices of the architects V.V.Zubkiv, L.A.Zubkova, A.K.Bubnova, S.U.Lyubimov and I.E.Kropivyanskaya. After examining old photos and drawings they managed to recreate the look of the building. For their work on the station reconstruction the architects were awarded the bronze diploma of the XIII International Festival Architecture 2005 held in Moscow. This was from a field of two hundred and seventy six works presented for this competition to identify the best architectural products of 2003-2005.

During the reconstruction the architect Viktor Zubkov insisted on exactly recreating all of the architectural extravagance. No record of the name of the architect who originally built this station could be found although several archives were searched. The Russian Historical State Archive simply said that there is no information about the name of the architect for the Romodanovsky railway station project, however it was recorded in the minutes of the Nizhny Novgorod Duma meeting of 11 May 1900 that the project engineer is Tolmachev. However, even the famous scientist and Doctor of Historical Sciences N.F.Filatov who was interested in the history of the railway station could not identify the project designer from the archival materials. He dated the authors works on the construction to 1900-1904 (Filatov N.F. Nizhny Novgorod. Architecture. Nizhny Novgorod: APC News of Nizhny Novgorod, - 1994. p190).

It was found that a certain Voronov was in charge of the building work and he also built the railway station in Arzamas. Unfortunately, it was not possible to glean his first name or status.

After collecting pictures and photos, the builders tried hard to recreate the original look as accurately as possible. The old photographs were taken by a famous photographer of the day Maksim Petrovich Dmitriev. It actually took three attempts to remake the cupolas as exact copies of the originals.

In 2003 NovaCard moved into the restored building, which comprised an area of about 4 thousand square metres.

*Romodanovsky railway station. The railway station took its name from the settlement of Romodanovo (in Mordovia). The first documented mention of building here is from 1622. In the 17th century it had three names: Kosh-Pomra (from all-Mordovia kozh pomra dry grove), Nikolskoe (from the name of the church) and Romodanovo (name-antroponym: from the family of Romodanovskys princes, who owned the settlement, this fact is proven by a Letter of grant from the tsar Mikhail Federovich, given to the steward prince I.I.Romodanovsky on the granted territories (1622) in the settlement Kosh-Pomra of Alatyrsky district. By 1880 Romodanovo was a large settlement which had a county college, a district hospital and a library. In 1893 in the outskirts of Romodanovo a section of track of the Moscow-Kazan railway was laid. By 1903 the Romodanovo (Timiryazevo, then the Red Junction) station had become important in the economic development of the settlement of Romodanovo.

**Chernigovskaya street is on the lower embankment of the river Oka. It was created as part of the general system of town-planning reforms of Nizhny Novgorod in 1834 -1839 by the architects Efimov and Gotman. The nature of the waterfront buildings is largely the result of a serious fire in 1836 when almost all the old wooden buildings were burnt down. After that only stone buildings were built along the river Oka. So by the end of the 19th century there was a complete architectural and industrial complex along Chernigovskaya Street. This complex consisted of inns for merchants, hotels, and large industrial plants. Then, the quayside teemed with life: there was one of the biggest parks for cabs, and numerous boats moored along the embankment. The number of these also increased significantly whenever the All-Russian funfair was held. Today the street is kept largely as it appeared at the end of the 19th century although the appearance of some of the historical buildings has been subjected to numerous alterations, extensions and additions to the facades or the damage and loss of some details.