[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 1.6.1864
Location: On the east side of Blackfriars Bridge
Company on opening: London Chatham & Dover Railway
Date closed to passengers: 1.10.1885
Date closed completely: 3.2.1964
Company on closing: London Chatham & Dover Railway
Present state: Part of the roadside entrance building survives. Nothing survives at track level apart from some embedded track at the top of a cobbled access ramp which was part of the goods station.
County: London
OS Grid Ref: TQ317808
Date of visit: October 1967 & 24.12.2005

Notes: Blackfriars Bridge was the original two level terminus of the LCDR's City Line from Herne Hill. The temporary terminus was a combined goods and passenger station, the lower level was used for goods and the upper level was used for goods and passengers. The passengers platforms were covered by a 'trainshed' overall roof supported by iron columns and girders. The approach to the booking office was by an inclined road at the south end of the station which was used by cabs and carriages. There was a further pedestrian entrance by stairs at the north end of the station. There were three passenger platforms. Hydraulic lifts were installed in the goods depot for transporting goods between the levels and there was also a wharf on the River Thames.

Although built as a through station Blackfriars Bridge was used as a terminus until the tracks across the Thames and Ludgate Hill Station were ready for opening on 21st December 1864 (temporary station). With the opening of Ludgate Hill and the interchange with the Metropolitan District Railway traffic increased dramatically and the services at Blackfriars Bridge soon proved inadequate. This was eased by the opening of Holborn Viaduct station in 1874 but eventually the LCDR decided to build a new station on the north side of the river which would act as a terminus with two through lines. The new St. Paul's station which had direct interchange with Blackfriars station on the Metropolitan District railway opened on 10th May 1886. By that date Blackfriars Bridge had already closed on 1st October 1885 to allow for track alterations prior to the opening of the new station. This involved demolition of the platforms and the trainshed roof. The main building was retained as a goods depot. St. Paul's was renamed Blackfriars in 1937 and is still open.

The old station remained in use as a goods depot until closure in 1964, it was largely demolished four years later although some traces remained into the 1970's and the cobbled access ramp is still extant today. Most of the site was used for office development. The original bridge over the Thames was closed from 27th June 1971 and demolished, the abutments and piers still remain with the southern abutment displaying the arms of the London & Chatham and Dover Railway.

Blackfriars station is to be rebuilt and the office building above it demolished and replaced. The LUL station at Blackfriars will close while the works take place. Initially it was planned for the Underground station to close for 24 months it has been confirmed that it will instead be closed from 2nd March 2009 to late 2011.

After the closure of the existing terminus platforms in March 2009, the through platforms will be extended across Blackfriars Bridge over the River Thames to accommodate 12-car trains (in place of eight today). The platform layout will be altered such that the through platforms will be on the east side of the station (currently the west side) and the terminus platforms on the west side (currently the east side). This means trains to and from London Bridge will no longer have to cross the lines that lead to the terminus platforms.

The works will involve making use of the disused piers from the original bridge. The number of terminating platforms will be reduced from three to two in the process, but some terminating services will become through services, and the increased length will allow longer trains to terminate at Blackfriars. In addition there will be an additional station entrance on the South Bank and the ticket offices for National Rail and LUL services will be combined.

The Metropolitan Extensions Act of 1860 gave the London Chatham & Dover Railway access to the City, authorizing a 4.5 mile line from Herne Hill across the river to join the Metropolitan Railway at Farringdon Street.

The 'City Line' was far more than the Chatham could cope with financially, but the possibilities for through traffic were vast. To the north the G N R and the Midland could be reached and to the south were the L B S C R and L S W R at Clapham Junction from where the G W R and L N W R could be reached via the West London Line. All these companies were approached to partake financially and all eventually profited from the scheme gaining the right to work trains to their own goods and coal depots in South London.

The line from Herne Hill to the Elephant and Castle was opened on 6 October 1862 and on to Blackfriars Bridge on 1 June 1864. Intermediate stations were initially provided at Camberwell, Walworth Road and Borough Road and later at Loughborough Junction.

The Thames was eventually bridged and by 21 December 1864 a temporary station at Ludgate Hill was in use, a permanent station being opened on 1st June 1865. It had two narrow island platforms but the station was rebuilt in 1910 with a single broader island platform.

On 1st January 1866, L C D R passenger trains began running into the Metropolitan's Farringdon Street station and the connection was soon carrying a wide variety of passenger and freight services. Then, by an Act of 13 July 1871, the Chatham became committed to yet another project. A nominally independent Holborn Viaduct Station Company (for the bankrupt
Chatham was not allowed to raise capital) was authorized to build a 292 yard branch from the Ludgate - Farringdon line to a new terminus, complete with hotel, fronting on the new thoroughfare of Holborn Viaduct. It was opened on 2nd March 1874.

On 1st August 1874 a low-level station, Snow Hill ('Holborn Viaduct Low Level' from 1912), was opened at the foot of the 1 in 39 incline.

Finally, on 10th May 1886 a parallel bridge across the Thames was opened with, at the northern end, yet another new station, St. Paul's, the original Blackfriars Bridge being closed. St. Paul's was renamed Blackfriars on 1st February 1937. The existing layout was completed when the South Eastern Railway opened the Union Street spur on 1st June 1878 creating a through route into Charing Cross.

The difficulties of inter-terminal transfer through the congested streets of mid-Victorian London assured considerable transfer traffic. All L C D R mainline trains, including continental ones, carried a City portion attached or detached at Herne Hill. Eventually however the development of the underground network led to the withdrawal of the through services and the demise in the importance of Holborn and Blackfriars with a dramatic reduction in off peak services. Holborn retained very heavy parcels traffic, including continental and three of its six platforms, too short for electric trains were utilised.

The first casualty on the line was Borough Road which closed on 1st April 1907 due to competition from the Northern Line. As an economy measure during WW1 through services from south of the Thames to Moorgate via the Smithfield Curve (opened 1.9.1871) were withdrawn on 1st April 1916 with Camberwell and Walworth Road stations closing two days later. Holborn Viaduct Low Level closed on 1st June 1916 and with it through passenger traffic on the City Line ceased.

Less than 700 yards separated Holborn Viaduct from Blackfriars. Ludgate Hill thus became increasingly redundant, especially after the through trains stopped. The intensive Ludgate Hill - Victoria services were withdrawn during the First World War. The Wimbledon trains were the last to call and with their electrification it was closed on 3 March 1929.

In 1902, 19.2 million passengers used Holborn, Ludgate and St. Paul's. Use declined with the loss of the cross London traffic until electrification. The growth of L.C.C. estates in S E London and Kent increased traffic but this was not maintained and in 1960 they were back to the 1902 level with 88% of the traffic arriving or departing during the rush hour. The 'City Line' was still a vital north-south freight link with some 90 trains a day in 1962, but all regular freight and parcels services were withdrawn in 1969. Although disused for many years the Snow Hill tunnel was finally abandoned in 1971 and the track was lifted.

The Snow Hill tunnel was reopened in 1988 as part of the new Thameslink network which came into service in May 1990, initially as part of British Rail but private since March 1997. To coincide with the opening of Thameslink, Holborn Viaduct Station was closed on 22nd January 1990. The line into Holborn Viaduct over Ludgate Hill was removed and a new line built that drops down steeply from Blackfriars station into a new station called City Thameslink (opened 29.5.1990) beneath the former Holborn Viaduct Station. The station was originally called St. Paul's Thameslink but was renamed in 1991 to avoid confusion from St. Paul's station on the Central line.

The northern part of the Thameslink network replaced the 'Bedpan' service from Bedford to St. Pancras and uses the existing Midland Main Line. In the south there are two branches. The main route runs through London Bridge to East Croydon and Brighton while the second branch initially ran into Guildford via West Croydon but has now been rerouted through Mitcham to terminate at Sutton.

Thameslink has become a significant commuter route serving the airports at Gatwick and Luton and carries around 40 million passenger journeys on the system annually.

Sources: A regional history of the railways of Great Britain - Volume 3 Greater London by H P White. David & Charles 1963 & 1971 ISBN 0 7153 5337 3 & London's Disused Stations Vol 3 the London Chatham & Dover Railway by J E Connor. Connor & Butler 2002. Ticket from Michael Stewart

Other web sites: Abandoned Tube Stations - includes a cab ride from Farringdon - Blackfriars

To see the other stations on the L C D R's 'City Line' click on the station name: Loughborough Junction, Camberwell, Walworth Road, Borough Road, BlackfriarsLudgate HillHolborn Viaduct,
Snow Hill/Holborn Viaduct Low Level & Farringdon

Blackfriars Bridge Station shortly before opening
From from Illustrated London News 26.12.1863

Street level view of the station in 1966, two years before it was largely demolished
Photo by J E Connor

Part of Blackfriars Bridge Station/Goods Depot seen from a passing train in October 1967
Photo by Nick Catford

Parts of the street level building still remained in April 1975
Photo by Andrew Emmerson

Blackfriars Bridge Station entrance in December 2005
hoto by Nick Catford

The site of Blackfriars Bridge Station looking north in December 2005. Some embedded track from the goods station survives.
Photo by Nick Catford

The cobbled ramp up to the goods station from Blackfriars Road in December 2005
Photo by Nick Catford

April 1976

April 1976

Click on thumbnail to enlarge




[Source: Nick Catford]

Last updated: Wednesday, 16-Sep-2020 11:11:58 CEST
© 1998-2008 Disused Stations