Friday, 8 December 2017

Short life of a long-lived station

Blackfriars Station - now usually referred to as Blackfriars Road to avoid confusion - is still visible on Blackfriars Road. Restored in 2005, its emphatic black name is clearly visible under the railway bridge stands out  as clearly as it did when the station opened in 1864. Over a century and a half later, the entrance is a firm survivor. 

It stood on the line built to connect London Bridge and Charing Cross. London Bridge was, of course, central London's first terminus. It first ran to Deptford in 1836, and lines now ran to Greenwich, Croydon and Brighton - but a connection to the City was badly needed. The Charing Cross Railway Co was therefore given permission by Parliament to build the link, crossing the garden of St Thomas' Hospital and travelling by viaduct over Borough Market. In Southwark, thousands of people lost their homes to the railway construction (over 1,800 on the company's own conservative estimate). 

Yet this station was open for a mere five years: it was replaced by Waterloo Junction (now Waterloo East) in 1869. Stranger still, although the Charing Cross Railway Co constructed the line and station, it was taken over by the South Eastern Railway Co before it opened. The frontage is therefore a long-lived reminder of a very short time. 


Hels said...

What a terrible waste of family homes, limited government funding, valuable transport hubs and community trust :(

Alan Burkitt-Gray said...

All the city-centre railway projects in the mid 19th century destroyed lots of homes, not just in London. It's one of the reasons the governments of the day forced the railway companies to introduce so-called workmen's tickets, to allow working people to commute (a term* that wasn't used then) cheaply to and from work from their new homes.

On the issue of the Charing Cross Railway Co being taken over by the SE: this was a common strategy to fund a new project. Lots of extensions were funded by setting up a new company which then borrowed money and/or sold shares; if successful it was then taken over by the company that had been behind the project from the start. No one ever expected the CCRC to run a shuttle service from Charing Cross to London Bridge, where passengers could change to the SE. It's still a normal business process for new projects; though they don't usually plaster their names on them for centuries to come.

* A US rail company allowed regular passengers to commute -- change -- daily return tickets to a weekly season ticket. Hence they became commuters.

CarolineLD said...

Hels, it's not the most edifying story. But as Alan says, a familiar one. I didn't know the origin of 'commuting', thank you for that!

The CCRC was indeed created by the SERC - which makes it very odd that the CCRC name appears so boldly on the station facade. I wonder whether there were originally plans for it to operate the line as a separate company too, as it makes no sense otherwise.