London Bridge Rebuilding Works

Thameslink Programme

London Bridge

Now onto the main subject at hand, London Bridge, the site of the capital’s first ever terminus station, which served its first trains as long ago as 14th December 1836. It was not at the end of a grand main line; rather, it served a humble three-mile-long route which initially terminated at Deptford. It is a site which has undergone many transformations – the last of these culminated in a rather ugly rebuild, formally opened on 15th December 1978, of a station which still showed the scars of World War II bombing raids. Much interesting and historic architecture was swept away, particularly on the South Eastern Division platforms, but beyond retention of the viaduct arches, two key features did remain:

On 27th June 2011, Network Rail submitted a planning application to Southwark Council, seeking permission for the following:

In the early stages of the programme, credence was given to the idea of dismantling the trainshed and subsequently storing it, pending reassembly elsewhere. Unfortunately, it later became clear that complete destruction was the order of the day. Resistance was met on the demolition of the Tooley Street offices, the structure of which was not Listed. Nevertheless, Network Rail’s scheme was given the ‘’green light’’ by Southwark Council on 20th December 2011. The proposed demolition of the offices in Tooley Street had been referred to English Heritage. The organisation reported back, claiming Network Rail had not demonstrated that it was necessary for the building’s destruction as part of the scheme. Evidently, this fell on deaf ears, for tenants were instructed to vacate the premises and, in February 2013, windows started to be boarded up.

The existing layout comprised nine terminal platforms, eight of which were covered by the trainshed, and six through platforms. Sandwiched in-between the terminus station and through platforms was also a passing loop, bringing the station’s cumulative line total to sixteen. The programme sought to invert this arrangement, whereby a completely new track layout would provide six terminating and nine through platforms. Of the through platforms, running north to south, two would be dedicated to Cannon Street trains, the next pair used by Thameslink services, and the final two devoted to Charing Cross traffic. All platforms, bar No. 15, were to be made capable of handling twelve-vehicle formations. The location of the existing signal box precluded building platform No. 15 to anything beyond ten-vehicle capacity.

West of London Bridge, a triangle upon arches is formed between Cannon Street and Charing Cross routes. At the eastern end of this once existed Borough Market Junction, which was abolished in 1991 when switching between routes was confined to the east of London Bridge station. Heavy engineering works were planned here as part of the scheme to increase the number of through platforms at the station from six to nine. These would involve the construction of a 400-metre (437.45-yards) viaduct south of, and running parallel with, the Charing Cross tracks, through Borough Market. The viaduct was to accommodate two-tracks, these of which would become dedicated to Charing Cross trains. The shifting of Charing Cross services over to the new lines enabled the existing double-track on the southern side of the triangle to be used solely by Thameslink trains. However, these tracks required realignment to make room for the new Charing Cross lines, necessitating the widening of the existing viaduct on its northern side, in the fork of the converging Cannon Street/Charing Cross lines at the western end of the triangle. A consequence of this was to be the temporary closure of the western side of the triangle. This comprised just a single-track and was used by empty stock movements, some late night services from Charing Cross, in addition to serving as a useful diversionary route via Cannon Street when engineering works occupied the southern part of the triangle.
 


29th September 2011

 

This view shows to good effect how some old structures around Borough Market have been accommodated in the programme. ''The Wheatsheaf'' pub closed in January 2009 as part of the building works, which included the removal of its top storey to allow the new viaduct to pass through. © David Glasspool

 


29th September 2011

 

A north easterly view from Southwark Street shows the new bridge spanning Borough High Street. The curved tubular construction of the bridge is only present on one side - the opposing elevation is a more conventional span, akin to the existing railway bridge alongside. © David Glasspool

 


10th March 2012

 

By the time of this view, the new concourse had gained departure boards and a renewed ticket barrier line. To the left, the framework of the previous structure was still standing. © David Glasspool

 


10th March 2012

 

The lattice framework of the 1866 trainshed can be seen in the background of this view, which includes advanced construction on ''The Shard''. The splendid arched-patterned viaduct can be appreciated in this photograph; that section beneath the trainshed's southern wall was scheduled for demolition. © David Glasspool

 


 

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