London Charing Cross

 

Marginally earlier, in 1925, the topic concerning the closure of Charing Cross and its relocation to the South Bank, came to light again. A fruitless meeting between the LCC and SR in this year was followed in 1926 by the emergence of quite drastic plans. The proposals of 1901 had been altered: rather than a new terminus on the south side of the river, it was instead suggested moving the existing site a short distance east. Coupled with this, Hungerford Bridge would be demolished and in its place, a huge double-decker bridge erected. Half a dozen tracks would be carried across the new structure, and a road would be suspended above. The SR took much interest in this; the company had been considering the total rebuild of Charing Cross to provide improved facilities and an increase in the limited six platform arrangement. However, with the cost of this whole undertaking estimated at £13,050,000, attention again turned to the cheaper concept of relocating the whole station to the South Bank – it would be at least £2,250,000 cheaper. Ultimately, it was to be the Government which would either approve or scrap the scheme – it did the latter. The plan of having a terminus on a new site on the South Bank had itself gained steady opposition and in light of the signalling modernisation and electrification already undertaken by the SR in and around Charing Cross, it was deemed that the original terminus would remain. However, what of the SR’s plans to expand Charing Cross? These became far less important with the commencement of electric services, which removed the delays caused by the Hungerford Bridge restrictions and allowed for more intensive working (helped by the renewed signalling).

In connection with the aforementioned electrification, platforms were renumbered, therefore numbers now ascended from north east to south west. Platforms 1 to 3 were generally used for suburban services, whilst 4 to 6 accommodated the remaining locomotive-hauled trains which utilised the stronger part of the bridge. All platforms were lengthened, again utilising wood in light of weight restrictions, which brought the longest surface to 750 foot in length. Track rationalisation saw the seventh line, which has been mentioned earlier as a rolling stock siding, lifted, which allowed subsequent widening of platforms 3 and 4. Spaciousness was very much the theme, and in 1930 the SR enlarged the ‘’modest’’ concourse by truncating the ends of platforms 2 and 3 – the effect of this had, however, been countered by the extension of these surfaces at the river end of the station.

World War II dealt quite a considerable blow to the station. A night attack on 16th April 1941 saw considerable damage inflicted upon the hotel, with many of the upper floors being gutted. That was followed three years later by the bombing of part of the original SER Hungerford Bridge, damage of which took six months to fully repair. The first modification implemented by British Railways on the site was to the 1887 section of Hungerford Bridge: this was strengthened considerably during 1948. Then, in 1951, ten years after being bombed, the hotel received extensive repairs. In general, this comprised of a whole new set of top floors; these were, however, built to a style reflecting the antithesis of the elaboration which once graced the Strand. Straight lines and concrete replaced elegant spires, magnificently carved stonework, and of course, the crème brickwork. Despite this retrograde step in architecture, the hotel at least had far greater luck than the equally elaborate example at Cannon Street, which had been gutted by bombs in May 1941. Originally scheduled for repair, the seemingly cheaper and easier option was taken: it was bulldozed in April 1963. Contrasting with this, the hotel façade of Charing Cross was subject to a much needed clean at the same time.

 


September 1984

 

In this view taken from the end of platforms 5 and 6, 4 Vep No. 7864 is observed departing the terminus. On

the left is the unmistakeable shape of a ''Hastings'' unit. It was at this point where the signal box was formerly

suspended across the tracks, and the large indentation within the bridge support on the right once housed the

metal framework of the cabin. © David Glasspool Collection

 


3rd May 1986

 

A classic scene at Charing Cross on 3rd May 1986 depicts Hastings ''long'' DEMU No. 1016 stabled within the 

''main line''  part of the station, underneath the 1906 ridge-and-furrow roof. Note the light and airy platforms,

a feature which today's station lacks. © David Glasspool Collection

 


3rd May 1986

 

Also seen on 3rd May 1986 are those platforms generally considered ''suburban'': 1 to 3. Two Bulleid products

are on the left: 4 EPBs Nos. 5045 and 5140, the latter displaying an Orpington head code. BR-designed EPB

No. 5314 is on the right. © David Glasspool Collection

 


 

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