What's special about Deptford Station? Simply, it was one end of the world's first suburban passenger railway: the London & Greenwich Railway. This initially ran on a viaduct from Spa Bridge Bermondsey to Deptford, London's first two stations, and opened in 1836. To give an idea of how early this was in the development of London's public transport, Shillibeer had only begun running his horse-drawn omnibus service from Greenwich to Woolwich in 1834.
By the end of the year, London Bridge station was operating and the railway was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of London. The opening was heralded by George Ponsford in the Mechanics' Magazine as the dawn of a new era when 'the ends of the earth will meet' bringing world peace and the transformation of 'spears into steam-carriages'. Mind you, he also suggested that the railway arches be converted into homes - the only problem he foresaw was that the smoke from their chimneys might annoy rail passengers! The railway made it across Deptford Creek to Greenwich in 1840.
The picture here is of a ticket to the opening event, now in the London Transport Museum. It was possibly the only time the railway issued tickets, however: travellers were given copper tokens - silver for directors - instead of paper tickets.
Another unusual feature of Deptford Station is that it has a carriage ramp. This creates a lovely mental image of first-class passengers being driven in their carriages to the very train doors, but the reality is a little more practical. Because the railway platforms are well above street level, the ramp was designed to allow railway carriages to be stored under cover and then lifted up to the station by pulleys. It still survives as a listed, but rather neglected, structure. You can now see it from the Deptford Project cafe, located aptly enough in a railway carriage (and have one of their gorgeous cakes while you're there)! The long-term plan is to have creative businesses in the ramp's arches.
The railway was a great success, carrying over two million passengers a year by the 1840s. Let's hope that the planned redevelopment (ominously, a 'modern glass building') makes it look worthy of its historical status once more!