East Brixton

Strictly speaking, this was a Central Division station, but given that the South London and ‘’Chatham’’ Main lines are closely affiliated between Wandsworth Road and Brixton, it seems worthy of inclusion. The site was scheduled to come into use with the LB&SCR’s South London Line (SLL) on 1st July 1866, but the result of a ‘’Board Of Trade’’ infrastructure inspection pushed this back to 1st August of that year. This date also passed by, and opening of the first part of the circuit route between London Bridge and Loughborough Park (as East Brixton was first known) did not occur until 13th August 1866. The latter served as a temporary terminus until the final stretch of the route to Victoria was commissioned for public services on 1st May 1867.

For its most part, the SLL was built upon a series of viaducts, necessitating stations to be erected at high-level (the portion of the route through Denmark Hill is a notable exception). As a result, most sites comprised platforms supported upon additional iron framework erected either side of the viaduct arches; this was indeed the case at Loughborough Park. The main booking office was housed within the two-storey-high viaduct arches and incorporated semi-circular windows on both levels. Indeed, these can still be deciphered to this day, long after the station’s closure. Up above, two platforms were in evidence either side of a double-track formation. These surfaces were of all timber construction to keep weight to a minimum, and were partly supported upon the viaduct’s parapets, and partly upon the aforementioned lattice iron framework. Both platforms were hosts to generous canopies, 200-feet in length. These featured wrap-a-round sides and were backed at their rear by tongue-and-groove timber. As a result, they were essentially giant waiting shelters. The canopy valances sported a peculiar bumpy ‘’jigsaw’’ effect, which can still be witnessed at nearby Denmark Hill (66-chains distant to the east). Sash-style windows were incorporated within the timber sides, iron stanchions held up the canopies, and the shelters were literally suspended in mid-air on iron stilts. This method of construction can still be seen to good effect today at Battersea Park. The platforms were fully gas lit: typical diamond-shaped lanterns of the era were hung from underneath the canopies, and those on exposed parts of the surfaces were affixed to cast-iron posts.

In January 1870, the station gained a suffix, becoming ‘’Loughborough Park & Brixton’’. The ‘’Loughborough Park’’ part of the name was completely dropped from 1st January 1894, and the station instead became ‘’East Brixton’’. Brixton now had two stations to its name: the other was the LC&DR’s ‘’Brixton & South Stockwell’’, which had come into use in August 1862.

In 1883, at the eastern extremity of the Victoria-bound platform, a quaint signal box appeared. The design of these cabins was standardised along the route. They were built in-house by the LB&SCR, but their appearance alluded to those products of the company’s favoured signalling contractor, Saxby & Farmer. The signal box was of tongue-and-groove timber construction, had a hipped slated roof, and sported an intricate valance more commonly found on platform canopies. It appears that the opening of the signal box was coupled with the insertion of a trailing crossover in-between the tracks at the platforms’ western ends. Such a crossover had already existed beyond the eastern ends of the platforms since opening.

In 1903, the LB&SCR secured powers to electrify its entire network. The company opted for a 6,700 Volts A.C. overhead wire system, and the SLL was the first to be treated. Lattice gantries, affixed to the sides of the viaducts, were erected to carry the conductor wires 16-feet above rail level. At East Brixton, a pebble-dashed electrical switch cabin was erected adjacent to the viaduct, immediately next to the signal box at the eastern end of the layout. The internal equipment for the switch room was provided by the British Thomson-Houston Company. Public electric working along the circuit route between Victoria and London Bridge commenced on 1st December 1909, but steam-hauled services remained on very early morning workings. The route became wholly electric-worked from 1st June 1912.

The LB&SCR was amalgamated with other independent concerns into the ‘’Southern Railway’’ in 1923. In August 1926, it was announced by the SR Board that the A.C. overhead wire system on Central Division routes would be abandoned and replaced by the ex-LSWR’s 600 Volts D.C. third rail. By this time, the wires had already been extended to the Crystal Palace lines. The wires ceased to be used along the SLL on 17th June 1928, the route being worked on the third rail system thereafter. On 9th August of the previous year, East Brixton signal box had been taken out of use. Maps suggest that the electrical switch room here was retained after the abandonment of the overhead system – indeed, many of these became stores for the permanent way department. At this time, the trailing crossovers at either ends of the station were removed and the SR’s trademark ‘’Swan Neck’’ lampposts, complete with ‘’Target’’ name signs, installed. A staff track foot crossing, a feature of the site from the outset, was maintained midway between the platforms. Early economies saw the closure of the original booking office within the brick arches, and timber huts were subsequently erected on each platform to issue tickets.

After the SR alterations, little changed at this station for many years. Colour lights replaced semaphore signals here on 8th March 1959, when the Factory Junction to Denmark Hill section of the SLL was converted to this mode of operation. Thereafter, the station was allowed to decay, so much that by the 1970s parts of it were becoming structurally unsafe. In 1973, waiting accommodation was severely reduced when large chunks from the middles of both canopies were dismantled. This subsequently created four separate waiting shelters – two on each platform – made up from the remains of the original canopies. At this time, the SR’s Swan Neck lamps were also removed, these being replaced by standard metal lampposts. In spite of this ‘’upgrade’’, the end was nigh. Due to the financial burden of running the station, coupled to the fact that the platforms would fall down without structural remedial work, closure occurred on 5th January 1976.


Three sets of double-track line are in evidence in this eastward view. On the far right are the tracks of the South London Line, flanked on either side by the timber platforms of East Brixton. In the centre is the line from Victoria to Nunhead, it splitting at the latter for Lewisham and the Catford Loop. Finally, on the left, is the spur to Loughborough Junction. © David Glasspool Collection


Looking in the London Bridge direction, we see the results of the 1973 partial demolition. Both platforms once boasted one long canopy each, but the middle sections were dismantled, creating four separate waiting shelters, two on each side. Worthy of note are the timber platforms, ornate canopy struts, and a still extant track foot crossing. SR ''Target'' name signs were still evident at this time, but the Swan Neck lamps had been replaced by more modern posts. © David Glasspool Collection