London Bridge

The LB&SCR also began making progress with its new terminus on the southern side of the 1850-created boundary. By 1853, the company had produced a red-brick façade, complete with a centrally-located clock face on top of a flat roof. Lined with stone, this three-storey high building was a less imposing forerunner of the colossus erected by the same company at Victoria between 1901 and 1906, the latter of which can still be viewed. A 70,000 square-foot ridge-and-furrow trainshed covered the concourse and five platforms. The now familiar symmetrical trainshed, which can still be viewed at London Bridge today, did not appear until 1866. On 13th August of this year, the South London Line came into use, which heralded the enlargement of the existing terminus arrangement at London Bridge – at least for the LB&SCR side. Three new approach tracks were installed on the widening of the viaduct, and four more platforms came into use, making a total of nine. In addition to the provision of a new overall roof, a 46 foot 5 inch turntable appeared, this being positioned directly in line with the central curved span of the trainshed, and being some 500-foot from its façade. Well-known signalling contractor Saxby & Farmer undertook the re-signalling of the LB&SCR station during the improvements. Previously, in 1861, a wholly separate concern had erected an imposing five-storey 150-room hotel immediately to the south of the LB&SCR’s station façade. It was built to the same style as its contemporary at Victoria, the Grosvenor Hotel (of which is still in existence), but its location ensured that receipts were never high. Despite the struggles of the hotel, the LB&SCR terminus continued to go from strength to strength, and by 1880 there were eleven platforms in use.

Change on the SER site was already afoot. In 1857, Parliament requested the SER to develop a scheme which would allow the extension of its tracks from London Bridge, through to the West End. Two years later, Royal Assent was received for a 1⅓ mile extension to the South Bank; thereafter, the line would embark on a bridge over the Thames, to arrive at a new station site on the former ground of the Hungerford Market. The expensive venture would be pursued under the auspices of the ‘’Charing Cross Railway Company’’. The existing Greenwich terminus on the north side of the site was demolished and the lines subsequently extended westwards to produce a through affair. Furthermore, the viaduct was widened on its northern side to accommodate further tracks, and the westward extension saw the railway company purchase the site of St Thomas Hospital, the route’s sudden south westerly heading incurring on this land. When the Charing Cross extension opened on 11th January 1864, the then new through station was commissioned with five platform faces, the four southern most of which constituted two islands, with the northern surface being a side platform. Saxby & Farmer was enlisted to signal the Charing Cross to London Bridge section: it was common to involve contractors in the more intensive signalling projects and indeed, Saxby & Farmer products became more prevalent on SER lines in the railway company’s final years. Two signal cabins appeared at the eastern end of the through platforms, suspended across the tracks. Like their counterpart at Charing Cross, the signal boxes supported posts of semaphore signals upon their roofs. Subsequently, the original terminus of North Kent and ‘’main line’’ services, with its curved overall roof, and frontage buildings designed by Beazley, became an eight-track Continental goods depot.

Further improvements were made to the SER site in 1894 in response to traffic increases. The through station was rebuilt to provide a total of six platform faces arranged in the form of three islands, with seven tracks passing through. The platforms were, paradoxically, numbered 1 to 7, ascending from south to north. In lieu of the missing platform 3 was the seventh track, sandwiched in-between the lines of platforms 2 and 4. This was used by cross-London freights awaiting a clear path to proceed onto the ex-LC&DR line through Snow Hill Tunnel. The platform canopies erected at the rebuilt station demonstrated the quintessential SER valance pattern, which can still be seen in partial existence at Paddock Wood and indeed, until recently, at Woolwich Arsenal. The canopies featured roofs composed of ridge-and-furrow glazing, and all platform surfaces were linked by a roofed lattice footbridge, identical in design to that still in use at Gravesend Central. During this general enlargement and improvement programme, Saxby & Farmer’s services were again enlisted, and a trio of new signal cabins for the SER site appeared, replacing the earlier products, the most prominent of which was suspended across the tracks at the eastern end of the layout (just like the example still in use at Canterbury West). However, SER design was still prevalent here, and an imposing two-storey signal box to this company’s design (with sash-style windows and clapboard sides), appeared at the Charing Cross end of platforms 1 and 2.

As mentioned previously in this section, the SE&CR made modifications very early on in its existence, the first of which was the closure of the Continental goods depot (which was the original terminus of the SER, before the 1864 Charing Cross extension), sandwiched in-between the through and terminus stations. A new depot for handling this traffic was established at Southwark in 1901, immediately adjacent to the connecting spur with the Blackfriars line. Consequently, four platforms came into use in June 1902 on the former goods yard site, but the curved overall roof survived until the latter SE&CR days. Furthermore, the aforementioned 1901 widening of the original viaduct at its eastern end had taken place, which eliminated the unique practice of right-hand running. In the meantime, the ‘’Terminus Hotel’’, adjacent to the façade of the terminal platforms, had ceased to function, and from 1893, the LB&SCR used the building as railway offices.

9th October 1977

A 1977 view, during the rebuilding works, provides a glimpse of the SE&CR station before most of the vintage architecture was swept away. The locomotive is Electro-Diesel No. 73107, which is seen fronting a rake of open hopper wagons loaded with ballast. The SE&CR enclosed lattice footbridge is clearly visible in this view, on the right, whilst its soulless successor is in the background, on the left. Below the SE&CR footbridge can be seen the platform canopy of the low-level terminating platforms, outside of the LB&SCR trainshed. The high-level platforms also retained their vintage canopies at this time, the silhouette of one of these being visible at the top left. © David Glasspool Collection

13th October 2004

A very wet evening rush hour sees 4 Cig No. 1743 parked underneath the central span of the trainshed roof, having formed the rear of an eight coach train. On the right is Hampshire & Berkshire DEMU No. 205001, trundling into the station paired with No. 205009 on the front, working a service from Uckfield. © David Glasspool

9th December 2004

A classic scene at London Bridge Low-Level: 4 Cig Nos. 1831 and 1854 are seen on the left and right respectively, the latter forming a Horsham service via Redhill. © David Glasspool

13th October 2004

4 VEP twilight: No. 3485 is seen in the evening rush hour at terminus platform No. 10. The last day of scheduled workings using BR Mk 1 stock on former Central Division lines was 19th August 2005, although units were used on an ad hoc basis until 26th November of the same year. © David Glasspool