As recounted in the Hackney Central section, this was one of a series of new stations opened on the eastern section of the North London Line (NLL) in the 1980s as part of a project to restore passenger services between Dalston Junction and Stratford.
Trains had started running between Bow Common and Islington on 26th September 1850; between the latter and Camden Town (later known as Camden Road) on 7th of the following December; and a junction with the LNWR at Chalk Farm opened on 9th June 1851. NLL trains were able to reach Poplar after the opening of an eastern extension to scheduled services on 1st January 1852, and a link between Victoria Park (Hackney Wick) and Stratford came into use for freight on 15th August 1854, passenger trains following on 16th October of the same year. The branch to the City terminus at Broad Street opened to passenger traffic on 31st October 1865.
A station at Homerton was not commissioned until 1st October 1868, about 1¾-miles west of Stratford. Naturally, this section concerns the later station at Homerton, so we will fast-forward to the war years when, from 15th May 1944, the 1868 site ceased to be served by passenger trains, after East London had become a scene of devastation through multiple bombing raids. Post-1945, the station was not reopened and that part of the NLL east of Dalston Junction no longer carried passengers.
Redevelopment proposals of London’s Docklands in the capital’s east, which surfaced in the late 1970s, provided an opportunity to restart passenger trains on the NLL between Stratford and Dalston Junction. This section of line had remained as an unelectrified freight route since the war years; the rest of the NLL, west from Dalston Junction and through to Richmond, had received the fourth rail electric system as early as 1916. The fourth rail system on the route was subsequently converted to third rail in the early 1970s. In House of Commons Parliamentary papers from 1978, it was stated that British Rail had been allocated funds to extend an existing diesel passenger service running between North Woolwich and Stratford, west to Camden Road. At the latter, the diesel service would connect with the electric trains running on the semi-circle route between Broad Street and Richmond. Additionally, three new passenger stations would open between Stratford and Dalston Junction – Hackney Wick, Hackney Central, and Dalston Kingsland – with a fourth at Homerton being a likely candidate later on. It was also proposed to speed up the schedules of services running between Docklands and the east and north of Inner London.
The extended diesel service from North Woolwich commenced on 14th May 1979, but new stations at Hackney Wick and Hackney Central did not come into use until 12th May of the following year. Dalston Kingsland station, positioned immediately east of the junction with the City branch to Broad Street, opened on 16th May 1983, but commissioning of new platforms at Homerton was still two years away.
Opening of the station at Homerton coincided with the commencement of electric passenger services over the stretch of line between North Woolwich and Dalston Junction, on 13th May 1985. This was on the 750 Volts D.C. third rail system, making an electrified semi-circle from North Woolwich to Richmond. Two platforms of concrete block construction, approximately 210-feet in length, were built upon the former site of the 1868 station, each of which was reached by an inclined walkway from street level below. The architecture was as per those stations at Hackney Wick and Hackney Central, albeit on a smaller scale. Each platform was host to a rectangular waiting shelter which comprised a red brick base and rear, with glazing on three sides. A square overhanging roof, with a plain corrugated valance, was a feature of both shelters – indeed, the design was somewhat reminiscent of Birmingham New Street signal box. At street level, on the southern side of the line, a single-storey red brick ticket hall was built; the downward-sloping roof of this had the same corrugated metal effect as the valances of the waiting shelters.
Comparatively speaking, of those newly-opened stations between Dalston Junction and Stratford, that at Homerton did not last in its original form for long. The initial change, as per the other sites, was the installation of 25kV overhead wires through the station in 1988, as part of a £12.419 million scheme to electrify a core freight route running from Stratford to Camden Road Junction. By 1999 the waiting shelters on both platforms, not even fifteen years old, had been demolished. Upon each of their former sites, a curved glazed shelter was installed, those on the westbound and eastbound platforms being about 20-feet and 25-feet in length respectively. At present, your author cannot find a defninite reason for the original shelters' premature end. In 2010, the platforms were extended at their western ends with concrete components to accommodate four-carriage Class 378 formations. This formed part of the "North London Railway Infrastructure Project", which saw the line between Gospel Oak and Stratford closed completely from 21st February 2010 until 31st May 2010 (inclusive).
12th October 1990
A westward view towards Hackney Central shows the station largely in the form it was opened in 1985, save for the overhead wires that were added in 1988 and Network SouthEast signage. Rather than being numbered, platforms were labelled "East" and "West". The waiting shelters mysteriously disappeared in the 1990s after a rather short career. The third rail was removed in 2009.
© David Glasspool Collection