Station Name: BOROUGH ROAD

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 1.6.1864
Location: On the north side of Borough Road and west of Southwark bridge Road
Company on opening: London Chatham & Dover Railway
Date closed to passengers: 1.4.1907
Date closed completely: 1.4.1907
Company on closing: South Eastern & Chatham Railway
Present state: Although there is no trace of the platforms other than a widening of the tracks for the island platform, the former entrance still exists below the viaduct and is used by a vehicle repair workshop.
County: London
OS Grid Ref: TQ320795
Date of visit: 24.12.2005

Notes: Borough Road station was opened with the LCDR's City Line on 1 June 1864. Prior to opening no reference to the station was made by Captain Tyler RE in his report of 30 May 1864 for the Board of Trade.

The line was built as double track but it saw heavy use and it was soon clear that the formation between between Charlotte Street, Blackfriars and Walworth Road would need to be widened to four roads to cope with the demand. Once this had been completed the line was once again inspected by the Board of Trade. In his report of 11 July 1886 Col. Yolland did make some recommendations about Borough Road, stating 'A railing is required on the top of the girder bridge adjacent to the Borough Road Station. The Signal Box should he separated from the platform by a ramp.'

After rebuilding fir the widening the station had two side platforms and a central island The latter was longer than the others and its London end, which stopped a little short of the bridge over Friars Street (now Webber Street), accommodated the signal box. The platforms and buildings, which included flat canopies, were constructed from wood, with those on either side projecting from the viaduct, supported at the rear by a succession of columns. The island platform was also provided with a canopy with a curved cross section and an attractive deep valance. Covered stairways lead to the rear of the platform buildings from the street level booking hall.

By the first decade of the20th century the station had few passengers due to competition from trams. Those shown on the map below were electrified in 1904, and took most of the traffic from the station; as a result, most trains went through without stopping. A contemporary satirical report by York Hopewell in the February 1901 issue of Railway Magazine painted a bleak picture, "A comparatively little—known railway station in London is that known as 'Borough Road'. Now, there are few folks indeed who have not heard of the 'Borough' and there is a vast number of Londoners who know the famous 'Borough Road' well enough. But if you ask many of them if they know the 'Borough Road Railway Station,' it becomes another story altogether. The suburban resident who travels up to town daily from Peckham district and onwards, is generally too much occupied with his copy of the morning paper to notice the names of stations where his train stops, let alone those where it doesn’t. Ask such a man just to give you the names of the stations (in order) that he passes from Ludgate Hill to Peckham, or vice versa, and you’ll be astonished at his replies. Yet he may have done the journey twice per diem, often for a dozen years!

So there is little wonder that, if by chance, the passenger does notice the name 'Borough Road Station' as the train runs through it, he is simply content with that notice and troubles no more as to what sort of place this station is. For few trains indeed, stop at this London station, since it is so near the termini of Ludgate Hill and St. Paul’s. There are two sets of lines passing through Borough Road Station - one, the main line of the London Chatham & Dover, and the other what is called the 'Metropolitan Extension' line. On this latter there are a large number of trains daily, though few stop here; but on the London Chatham and Dover line the 'stoppers' are even worse. An official at the station some time ago told the writer that he could recollect more than one instance where there had only been one train stop on that line during the whole twenty-four hours! As a proof of the 'busy state of the Borough Road Station, it may be interesting to learn that the whole staff on regular duty consists of an 'inspector' (who collects tickets, shuts carriage—doors, and does lots of other things), and two lads, who help in shutting doors, carry an occasional bag now and then - when a passenger does, by any mistake, get out at this place — and shout out the name of the station to people in trains, who never under any pretence wish to disembark here. Three officials, two boys, and a man to manage a fairly large London railway station! Is there any other that can beat this record?"

Borough Road didn't survive much longer, closing on 1 April 1907. The timber platforms, steps and track level buildings were demolished. The signal box closed on 21 March 1926. The street level entrance below the arches on the west side of Southwark Bridge Road just north of its junction with Borough Road found later use as a care repair workshop. It is believed some kind of stairway from here to the track level survived until the early 1980s as did two columns that once supported the up platform attached to the side of the viaduct. At track level a widening of the formation, as can be seen in the aerial photo below, indicates the position of the narrow central island platform.

Additional source: London's Disused Stations Volume 3 - The London Chatham & Dover Railway. JE Connor. Connor & Butler 2002.

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.

Tickets from Jim Connor except 385 & 3309 Michael Stewart. Route map by Alan Young. Bradshaw from Chris Hind.

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

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

To see the other stations on the LCDR's 'City Line' click on the station name: Loughborough Junction, Camberwell, Walworth Road, Blackfriars Bridge, BlackfriarsLudgate HillHolborn Viaduct,
Snow Hill/Holborn Viaduct Low Level & Farringdon

An old engraving from Illustrated London News showing the hustings for the Southwark election, held beside Borough Road in 1870. Borough Road station is seen with a covered stairway
leading to the platform.
Received from Frederick Start

1898 1:1,056 OS Town Plan; shows two side platforms and a central island. The shaded are indicates the extent of the platform canopies. Steps are seen on both sides leading up to the platforms. The island platform is longer than the sidle platforms with a signal box at its north end. Two buildings are shown at the south end of the island. Click here to see a larger version of this map.

1870 engraving showing the east side of the viaduct. The booking hall for Borough Road station was in the arches. The timber side platforms were supported on a series of columns which are seen here.
Received from Frederick Start

The only known photograph of Borough Road station looking north towards Holborn Viaduct in 1901.
Photo from JE Connor collection

In this aerial view from 1937 the widening of the tracks to accommodate the island platform at Borough Road is evident.
Reproduced with the kind permission of Simmons Aerofilms Ltd

Borough Road station entrance on the east side of the viaduct in December 2005; now in use as a car repair workshop.
Photo by Nick Catford

Part street level building at Borough Road station on the west side of the viaduct in December 2005.
Photo by Nick Catford

Borough Road station entrance in December 2005.
Photo by Nick Catford

Aerial view showing the site of Borough Road station. A widening of the tracks indicates the position of the island platform. The entrance can be seen to the right of the bridge. The bridge was replaced in 1911, after closure of the station.

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