Station Name: BLACKFRIARS (SER Station)

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 11.1.1864
Location: East side of Blackfriars Road
Company on opening: Charing Cross Railway
Date closed to passengers: 1.1.1869
Date closed completely: 1.1.1869
Company on closing: South Eastern Railway
Present state: Nothing survives at track level. The booking office entrance in Blackfriars Road survives and is used as a cafe. Two inscribed stone panels 'Charing Cross Railway' and 'Blackfriars Station' can be seen either side of the entrance
County: London
OS Grid Ref: TQ317801
Date of visit: 25.12.2008

Notes: Charing Cross was planned as the London terminus of the South Eastern Railway. They had wanted to extend their line from Bricklayers Arms towards Hungerford Bridge, but a bill presented in 1846 was unsuccessful. In 1857, they proposed to Parliament that they would build a railway terminus in the West End, hoping to use Victoria, before reaching an agreement with the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway to build a line west from London Bridge. The line was promoted as the London Bridge & Charing Cross Railway.

London Bridge was dropped from the title when the Charing Cross Railway Company was formed in 1859 in order to build the line, and the SER paid £300,000 in capital to help build it. The line towards Charing Cross was expensive to build as it traversed a heavily built-up area, which was exacerbated in February 1861 when the company chose to upgrade the two running lines to three, and doubled the capacity over the bridge to four tracks.   The decision to upgrade the Hungerford river crossing to three lines was to cater for a proposed shuttle between Charing Cross and Canon Street on the north side of the line.  The first Hungerford Bridge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, opened in 1845 as a suspension footbridge. It was named after the then Hungerford Market, because it went from the South Bank to Hungerford Market on the north side of the Thames. In 1859 the original bridge was bought by the Charing Cross Railway who replaced the suspension bridge with a structure designed by Sir John Hawkshaw.

Work on the new line began in June 1860 and took around three years. The old suspension bridge remained open until the new bridge was suitable to carry foot traffic.  A trial run over the new line took place on 1 December 1863.

Charing Cross station opened on 11 January 1864 with an intermediate station at Blackfriars.  Blackfriars station which was sited on the viaduct on the east side of Blackfriars Road. According to engineer’s plans its entrance was through a double doorway under the bridge which led passengers into the booking office within the first arch of the viaduct. From the booking office another double doorway led to two sets of internal stairs in the second arch to the two side platforms with another stairway to the island platform  in the third arch.

The original plan for the station was for two side platforms and an island but the 1872 OS map reproduced below doesn’t show a side platform on the north side of the formation.  Although this map was surveyed some years after closure of the station it seems unlikely the north side platform had been removed when the remainder of the station was largely intact. It may be that the fourth platform was considered unnecessary and never built along with its stairway in the second arch. No contemporary illustrations of the station survive but the engraving reproduced below does not match the engineers description of the station which was written before the station was built. It appears to show the entrance to the station located within a pedestrian arch. This would have restricted the view of the inscribed stone name panels which can be seen today.

The line was inspected on behalf of the Board  of Trade by Captain Tyler, but unfortunately, his report of 6 January 1864 makes no reference to Blackfriars station so we will probably never know whether the fourth platform was built or not.  With no reference to the station it is only possible to determine the length of the platforms from the 1872 map. They are about 450 feet in length with the island staggered slightly to the east.

At the east end of the station the LC&DR Metropolitan Extension from Elephant & Castle towards Ludgate Hill passed over the end of the platforms. Blackfriars signal box was on the south side of the viaduct immediately east of the LC&DR bridge.

The Charing Cross Railway was absorbed into the South Eastern Railway on 1 September, shortly after the station opened.

Blackfriars station was to be short lived.  Within four years of opening the SER had already drawn up plans to replace Blackfriars with a new station to the west which would provide interchange facilities with the London & South Western Railway. On 27th March 1868 Lord Bury (William Coutts Keppel) who sat on the board of a number of railway companies, including the SER wrote “The South Eastern will erect a station at Waterloo and efficiently work it, and will charge the Charing Cross fares for the time being... and shut up Blackfriars. ”

The LSWR were initially opposed to the proposal but after the Duke of Richmond stepped in to mediate between the two parties they dropped their opposition. The SER were now very keen to build the new station at Waterloo and a report of 2 April 1868 stated that  “The South Eastern Company would proceed to erect a station at Waterloo with the acceptance of the South Western... though doing so might compel the closing of Blackfriars station.” The report went on to say “...the Chairman of the London Chatham and Dover Railway Company has called attention to the expediency of erecting an exchange station at Blackfriars, a measure which hereafter should be carefully considered. ”

By this time the SER board were keen to proceed with the new interchange station at Waterloo. Most services in and out of Charing Cross continued to call at Blackfriars with the last service calling at the station on Thursday 31 December 1868 with Waterloo Junction station opening the following day.  (Renamed Waterloo in 1935 and Waterloo East in 1977)  By 1895 (see map below) all evidence of the station had been removed at rail level and the tracks realigned.  A widening of the viaduct on the north side can of the formation can clearly be seen, this is where the north side platform may have been if it was built. This can still be seen today.

At street level the entrance door on Blackfriars Road survives as do two inscribed stone panels either side of the door. The panel to the north said ‘Charing Cross Railway’ and to the south Blackfriars Station’. For years these panels were partially obscured by advertising hoardings and the inscribed words had been filled in and painted over. In 2005 the bridge and station entrance were restored. This was funded by The Royal London Cross River Partnership, Network Rail, Railway Heritage Trust and Southwark Council. In July 2009 planning permission was granted for a cafe in the former station entrance at 200 Blackfriars Road. This is now known as the Lebanese Grill.  

Tickets from Michael Stewart and JE Connor


Wood engraving showing the Surrey Chapel at the junction of Blackfriars Road and Charlotte Street in 1881. Blackfriars Road bridge is to the left. The entrance to Blackfriars station is clearly visible under the bridge. The open arch to the east is a mystery as according to the engineers report prior to the station's construction described access to the station platforms was from stairs in the second and third arches. A doorway can be made out in the second arch which probably leads into the third arch. The building adjacent to the bridge appears to have pre-dated the railway; but it is possible it was incorporated into the station. The Bridge over Blackfriars Road was replaced to accommodate four tracks between 1907 - 1916. The bridge on the right is the LC&DR crossing over Charlotte Street; before passing over the SER. Click here for larger version.
Engraving from Illustrated London News

1868 Map of London by Edward Weller (Click here for a large version)

1879 1:2,500 OS map. Although this map was published 10 years after the station closed the platforms are intact. A side platform was originally planned for the north side of the formation but as no platform is shown here there is some doubt as to whether the platform was ever built. There is a clear widening of the viaduct to accommodate the platform. Blackfriars signal box is seen on the right. Click here for a larger version.

1:1,056 OS map. The platforms have now been removed and the track realigned. A widening of the viaduct on both side of the to accommodate the side platforms is seen, that to the north of the formation was probably never built. The Surrey Chapel in Charlotte Street has become an engineering works. A signal box now stands at the west end south side platform. Click here for a large version.

An 1881 painting showing a similar view to the engraving above. Again the entrance to Blackfriars station is visible under the bridge. Click here for a larger view,
Painting by John Crowther

Aerial view showing the site of Blackfriars station in 1952. The widening of the viaduct for the north side platform is very obvious. The bomb damaged buildings in Charlotte Street to the south of the line have been cleared. This includes Revd. Roland Hill's Surrey Chapel which opened in 1783 and became a boxing arena known as The Ring in 1910. Click here for a large version
Photo from Britain From Above, reproduced with permission

Blackfriars station entrance on Blackfriars Road in June 2004. The inscribed panels on either side of the entrance have been filled in and painted over/
Photo by Alistair Fitchett

Aerial view showing the site of Blackfriars station in December 2003. No trace of the station remains at track level other than a widening of the viaduct on both sides of the line to accommodate side platforms. It is unlikely the north side platform seen here was ever built.

Blackfriars station entrance in December 2008. The station entrance and inscribed stone panels were restored in 2005.
Photo by Nick Catford

The Charing Cross Railway inscribed panel in December 2008. Before restoration in 2005 the letters had been filled in and painted over and the panel was partially obscured by advertising hoardings.
Photo by Nick Catford

Blackfriars station panel in December 2008.
Photo by Nick Catford

Blue plaque in December 2008
Photo by Nick Catford

Blackfriars Road bridge seen from the south side in April 2020/
Photo by Sunil Prasannan

Blackfriars Road bridge seen from the north side in April 2020. The widened viaduct for the north side platform (which was probably never built) is clearly seen
Photo by Sunil Prasannan

The Lebanese Grill which now occupies part of the Blackfriars station booking office.
Photo by Peter Kidd

Recent aerial view of the site of Blackfriars station looking east.




[Source: Nick Catford]

Last updated: Wednesday, 12-May-2021 11:57:50 CEST
© 1998-2013 Disused Stations