Queenstown Road

Battersea

Railway services between Nine Elms and Woking Common commenced on 21st May 1838, followed by through running to Southampton on 11th May 1840. A six-mile branch to Richmond opened on 25th July 1846; an extension of this to Datchet was brought into use on 22nd August 1848; finally, the line was opened to public traffic through to Windsor on 1st December 1849. In the meantime, a northward extension from Nine Elms to Waterloo Bridge, the latter where the London & South Western Railway's (LSWR) ultimate terminus would be, came into use on 11th July 1848, but a station at what is today known as "Queenstown Road" did not emerge until three decades later.

In 1877, a scheme was undertaken by contractor Mr G. Shaw of Earl Street, Westminster, on behalf of the LSWR, to enlarge Nine Elms Goods Depot. The former terminus at Nine Elms closed to passengers on the advent of the Waterloo extension and was given over to freight traffic, having already been enlarged at various stages between then and the 1877 works. The project involved realigning half a mile of route in the Battersea area — both "Main Line" and "Windsor" tracks — to accommodate an extended freight depot of seven acres in area. At the same time, the opportunity was taken to construct a new station on the relayed Windsor tracks.

In The Builder [20th January 1877], the following was reported about the works:

......the main line as well as the Windsor route are being diverted to the extent of more than half a mile in length between the Queen's private station and Battersea. The diversion of the two lines will admit of the goods depôt being extended to the extent of seven acres, the portions of the main and Windsor lines hitherto used for the general traffic and which are carried alongside the goods depôt area being about to be altogether removed.

The diverted line from the Wandsworth road is for some distance carried over an embankment and thence continued on a brick and iron viaduct...

The works are expected to be completed and the diverted line opened for traffic in the course of the ensuing summer when the removal of the old lines and the laying out of the additions to the goods depôt will be proceeded with. It may be added that in connexion with the diverted line the Company intend to erect a new passenger station at Queen's Road Battersea for the accommodation of the large and increasing population springing up in that locality. The contractor for these works is Mr G Shaw of Earl Street Westminster and the estimated cost including the intended station at Queen's road is about £70,000.

Queen’s Road station opened on 1st November 1877, a single island platform being situated upon a viaduct carrying six parallel-running tracks. Three tracks were situated either side of the island, the latter of which was served only by those rails used by Windsor line services. The timber platform was accessed by a flight of stairs from street level and was host to a pitched roof platform canopy.

1909 was another year of upheaval in the Battersea area for the LSWR. The company closed Nine Elms works, where heavy maintenance of locomotives was undertaken, and moved the entire operation to a purpose-built complex in Eastleigh. At the same time, a third platform face was commissioned at Queens Road station, on the northern side of the viaduct. This involved the construction of a substantial three-storey-high station building on Queens Road, fabricated from a combination of yellow and red brick, which rose above platform level. A mildly upward-sloping canopy was constructed on the additional platform, this of which was backed at its rear by timber. By this time two signal boxes, situated within 350-yards of each other, flanked either side of the station: Queens Road East, positioned just beyond the Waterloo end of the island platform; and Queens Road West. The latter was located southwest of the station, beyond the flyover which carried the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway's metals from Victoria to Clapham Junction, and was sandwiched in-between those tracks which became known as the "Up" Main Local and "Down" Main Through. Prior to this arrangement, a single, smaller signal box had existed beyond the Waterloo end of the island platform.

As part of the LSWR’s suburban electrification scheme between 1913 and 1916, using 600-volts D.C. third rail, two new running lines were laid between Waterloo and Loco Junction (Nine Elms). This brought the number of parallel-running tracks between these points to eight; after Loco Junction, seven tracks persisted to Queens Road (excluding the "down" exit from Nine Elms Goods Depot); and finally, eight tracks from Queens Road West to Clapham Junction.

A widening of the railway on the viaduct over the Nine Elms goods yard between Vauxhall and Queen's Road will be taken in hand. At present there are only six lines at this point, while elsewhere between Waterloo and Clapham Junction eight tracks are provided. [The Railway News, 14th December 1912]

Electric working of LSWR suburban services between Waterloo and Wimbledon via East Putney commenced on 25th October 1915, followed by Kingston and Shepperton lines on 30th January of the following year. The Hounslow Loop (Barnes to Hounslow via Kew Bridge) received its first public electric services on 12th March 1916, followed by the branch line to Hampton Court on 18th June. After the works, Queens Road station still comprised just three platform faces serving the Windsor lines only; the middle of the three tracks which separated the side and island platforms was not electrified, since this was the "down" line from Nine Elms Goods Depot.

The Southern Railway undertook a £500,000 resignalling scheme of Waterloo and those lines feeding the terminus, which was announced in January 1935 and commenced later that year. Colour-aspect lights replaced semaphores between Waterloo and Hampton Court Junction on the main line, and extended as far as Clapham Junction on the Windsor lines. The new signalling between Waterloo (exclusive) and Malden was brought into use during the early hours of Sunday, 17th May 1936. At this time, Queens Road East signal box went out of use; Queens Road West signal box was retained, but thereafter the "West" suffix was dropped. The colour-light stretch between Malden and Hampton Court Junction was brought into use on 28th June of the same year, and the new signalling at Waterloo replaced semaphores on Sunday, 18th October 1936.

Signalling aside, SR alterations to Queens Road station involved the installation of Swan Neck lampposts and "Target" name signs. At some stage the timber canopy valance on platform 1 was replaced with a riveted metal type, which looked decidedly SR in origin, akin to those examples installed by the company at Herne Bay and Dumpton Park stations.

Economies under British Railways (BR) resulted in Queens Road station being closed on Sundays from 19th October 1964 to 3rd April 1965. For the timetable between 6th May 1968 and 4th May 1969, the station was closed on Sunday throughout the entire year, this still being reflected in the 12th May 1980 to 10th May 1981 timetable.

The middle of the three tracks that separated platform Nos. 1 and 2 — the former Nine Elms Goods Yard departure line — was still extant in 1969, but had been lifted by 1975; it never received third rail. Your author surmises that the track was removed as part of the resignalling which saw the closure of Loco Junction signal box in June 1974 and the transfer of its functions to the cabin at Queens Road; Nine Elms had ceased to handle freight from 28th July 1968. Come the mid-1970s, the station still sported the SR’s Swan Neck lampposts, BR Sausage Totems, and green name signs. From 12th May 1980, which marked the beginning of British Rail's revised timetable, the station was called "Queenstown Road".

As part of the Waterloo Area Resignalling Scheme (WARS), Queens Road (formerly "West") signal box was closed. In the August 1990 edition of the RCTS’ The Railway Observer magazine, it was reported that the Wimbledon Signalling Centre took over the functions of Queens Road, West London Junction, and Clapham Junction "A" signal boxes over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend (26th to 28th May 1990). Whilst the signal box was demolished, the former Queens Road East cabin, closed as long ago as 1936, remained standing; your author suspects that it survived as a store for the local permanent way department.

To accommodate the international terminal at Waterloo, a series of track alterations between there and Queenstown Road took place. These were to permit the construction of the double-track Nine Elms Flyover, linking the Waterloo Main Line with the "Chatham" route from Victoria, and avoid conflicting movements between international and domestic trains. Between Waterloo and Nine Elms Junction — where the flyover to the "Chatham" line was situated — the "up" slow Windsor line was re-signalled for reversible running. In the January 1991 edition of the RCTS’ The Railway Observer magazine, it was reported that from 29th October of the previous year, the "up" Windsor slow line was blocked continuously between Clapham Junction and Vauxhall, the latter where this track converged with the "up" Windsor fast. Buffer stops on the "up" Windsor slow line were placed at the London end of Queenstown Road station during the works, and the track was removed from there to a point between the former Loco Junction and Vauxhall. A then new crossover was installed between Clapham Junction and Queenstown Road, linking the "up" Windsor slow and fast lines, which was brought into use on 28th October 1990. Other track alterations as part of the same works involved moving a set of trailing points between "down" Windsor fast and slow lines, situated at the London end of Queenstown Road station, 440-yards in the Waterloo direction. Nine Elms Flyover was formally commissioned on 2nd May 1993. The "up" Windsor slow line was known thereafter as the "Windsor Reversible", and your author suspects that this must have been when Queenstown Road station’s platform 1 went out of use.

In 2012, Queenstown Road's island platform was extended at its Waterloo end by about 150-feet. This required the demolition of the former Queens Road East signal box, which was over a century old by this time. In August 2015, Network Rail (NR) published its "Wessex Route Study", which included a proposal to re-open platform 1 at Queenstown Road. A later report published by NR in June 2019, detailing the organisation's strategic plan for the Wessex route, included spending a combined £14,300,000 at Andover, Queenstown Road, and Weybridge stations to replace platform canopies.


Click the above for a larger version. © David Glasspool


1966

Rebuilt West Country Class No. 34013 "Okehampton" is seen proceeding along the "Down" Main Through line with a mixture of Bulleid and BR Mk 1 coach stock, showing a Plymouth head code. The lines west of Salisbury had been under Western Region control since 1963, and regular steam haulage from Waterloo to Exeter and beyond largely ceased in September 1964, so presumably this service was either ending at Salisbury, or is a special through to Exeter. No. 34013 hauled a handful of rail tour specials during 1966, which probably explains the white buffers and smokebox brackets. The bridge in the background, under which the carriages are still passing, carries the Battersea Park to Wandsworth Road section of the South London Line. The gigantic building in the background, above the locomotive's tender and from which a flag pole emerges, was a depository which is famous in railway circles for forming the backdrop of many a photograph of Stewarts Lane Depot. Barley-twist lampposts with hexagonal shades, and a smart canopy, are evident on the island platform. © David Glasspool Collection


30th June 1985

This view shows the main station building on the northern side of the viaduct, not long after the facade was restored. To this day, the vintage LSWR text retains the station's original name. Although the station was later known as Queenstown Road (Battersea) in timetables, the bracketed suffix has never appeared on platform nameboards. Two sets of double wooden doors are evident here; the left-hand pair have since been replaced by a window. © David Glasspool Collection


9th April 1993

Modern lampposts, a signal gantry, and a glazed upper floor of the building in the right background have appeared since the 1966 view, but these details aside, the scene was little changed when seen in 1993. Rail Express Systems-liveried Class 47 No. 47703 "The Queen Mother" is seen heading the 17:05 Waterloo to Exeter St David's service, BR Mk 2a stock in tow. © David Glasspool Collection


June 1999

Closed as long ago as 1936, the former LSWR-designed Queens Road East signal box was still standing over six decades later. A platform extension in 2012 necessitated its demolition. The bridge in the distance of this Waterloo-bound view carries the rails of the "Chatham" Main Line to Victoria; beyond it is Nine Elms Flyover. Tracks from left to right: Windsor Reversible; "Up" Windsor; "Down Windsor"; "Up" Main Fast; "Down" Main Fast; "Up" Main Slow; "Down" Main Slow. © David Glasspool Collection