Station Name: BOW ROAD
Bow Road Station Gallery 1: Before 1907 - August 1942
The bridge over Bow Road, part of the A11 which was once the Bank of England (later cut back to Aldgate) - Newmarket - Norwich trunk road, seen here sometime prior to July 1907 and looking towards Mile End Road. The station entrance, right, still stands in 2017 and the bridge, minus sign, is little changed. Part of the earlier street level building is seen on the far left; the entrance was on the far side of the bridge. This is a typical Edwardian street scene which displays a number of historically interesting features. The large sign on the bridge was once a common sight as railway companies promoted their own destinations and often connecting services of other companies. Such advertising became more relevant with the coming of electric trams. Of the destinations seen here, Greenwich will refer to the now-long-closed North Greenwich London & Blackwall station while Woodford and Loughton eventually became stations on London Transport's Central Line. Note that East London Line is preceded by 'for' and the line's name is shown in brackets. There would have been another of these signs on the other side of the bridge. Beneath the arch on the right a comprehensive display of posters can be seen while the vertical board to their right probably advertises places reachable by train from Bow Road, although the list, if that is what it is, appears more comprehensive than that on the bridge. Up on the viaduct a signal post carrying bi-directional arms - once a very common practice - can be seen. On the road, horse-drawn and hand-propelled transport predominates. Difficult to see among the ruts, potholes and horse muck are tram lines of the North Metropolitan Tramways’ horse-tram service; soon after this photograph was taken the route was electrified under the auspices of London County Council (LCC) Tramways. A sign of things to come was the motor omnibus (the full name 'omnibus' was still then in common use) seen heading east under the bridge. The omnibus has proved difficult to identify but under magnification it appears to be a Straker-Squire. The operator's identity is even more difficult to establish but a clue is the branding on the bodyside tumblehome. It is either Thomas Tilling or Union Jack and the styling suggests the latter. Union Jack was a branding used by the London Road Car Company, which was swallowed up by the London General Omnibus Company in 1908. The 'General' was the originator of the world-famous London red bus livery which was perpetuated by London Transport, of which the 'General' became a part upon its formation in 1933. Public transport along the Bow Road is described further with the 1915 image. Also of interest are the delightfully ornate street lamps. Not only is there a large lamp overhanging the road, there are also two smaller lamps on ornate brackets further down the standard. These lamps were probably the work of the City of London Electric Lighting Co Ltd, formed in 1891 and which had a generating station at Bow and also owned Bankside Power Station, Southwark. The lamps along Bow Road would, at this time, have been DC as were many early electricity supplies.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection
Joseph Cross's Map of London 1850. The first station, Bow & Bromley is shown as is Victoria Park a&Bow, the interchange station with the Eastern Counties Railway. The North London Railway, which at this time was under construction is shown, but there is not yet a Bow station.
1870 1:2,500 OS Map. Bow & Bromley station is shown but is not named as a station because it had been closed for 20 years. Bow Road station would not open on the same site until 1875.
Stanford’s Geological Library Map of London and its Suburbs 1878 shows the second station which opened in 1875. It is clear from this map that Bow Road station had a similar footprint to its predecessor Bow & Bromley.
1895 1:1056 OS Town Plan clearly shows the layout of the third station at Bow Road. The street level booking office is on the east side of the bridge. From its rear, steps lead up to the up platform and through a subway to the down platform. The two platform buildings are slightly offset from each other with the signal box immediately north of the down platform building. The room layout of the platform buildings is clearly seen with the gents' toilet at the north end of both buildings. The sharp curve of the platforms is apparent. Shading indicates that the awnings covered the full length and width of the platforms. At the north end of the station further stairs lead down to a subway. The building to the right of the up platform stairs is the exchange booking office. A covered walkway leads to Bow station, part of which is seen on the far right. There is a crossover at the south end of the stations. The buildings from the previous station are seen on the south side of Bow Road. Click here for a larger version
1950 1:2,500 OS map shows Bow Road station in its final form. Although the map was published in 1950 the survey was made in 1948. The platform awnings have been shortened and now only protect the top of the stairs and the platform buildings. The hatching on the stairs indicates a glazed roof. The stairs at the north end of the station and the exchange booking office are shown as a ruin; the covered walkway is still shown. The previous station buildings have gone as have the signal box and crossover. A small building has appeared on the down platform to the north of the platform building.
Click here for a larger version.
1950 1:2,500 OS Map shows the very cramped Bow Road goods yard sandwiched between the Bow Curve and the North London Line with the Southend running over it on a viaduct at its south end. The 1956 Railway Clearing House Handbook states that by that date it only handled general goods and still possessed a 5-ton capacity crane which is seen between the sidings to the left of the word 'coal'. The yard closed on 7 December 1964 and its site is now occupied by the Bow Triangle Business Centre.
Click here for a recent aerial view.
Looking through the bridge over Bow Road during, it is believed, 1915 and in the opposite direction to the 1907 view. The station entrance is out of view beyond the arch on the left. Unlike WWII when the greatest danger was the Luftwaffe's bombs, the only aerial threat in WWI was from occasional Zeppelin appearance. Scenes from WWI, such as this, are therefore difficult to recognise as wartime. There is, however, evidence in this view in the form of the poster partly obscured by the cart and its splendid shire horse on the left. It was a variation of the 'Your Country Needs You' theme and played upon the expression 'If that caps fits, wear it'. This particular poster reads "If the Cap Fits You" and was of course a rather clever part of the recruitment campaign for the army. The poster is based upon the Union Flag and was one of several variations of the same theme issued during 1915. By this date (see the 1907 view) the tramway had been electrified. Electric trams along the Bow Road served routes 61 (Aldgate - Bakers Arms) and 63 (Aldgate - Ilford), which continued as such under London Transport from 1933. Most of London's trams north of the river were withdrawn prior to WWII, the exceptions being routes 31, 33 and 35 via the Kingsway Subway, with many being replaced by trolleybuses. Upon conversion, the former Bow Road trams became trolleybus routes 661 (Aldgate - Leyton) and 663 (Aldgate - Ilford Broadway/Chadwell Heath). East London lost most of its trolleybuses from 1959, those along Bow Road going on 19 August that year. The bus replacements comprised seven routes, of which only the 26 (Aldgate - Leyton) bore any resemblance to a former trolleybus route. Beyond the bridge and on the right is a steam lorry, or steam wagon as they were known at the time. It is too far away for a positive identification but given the year it is most likely a Foden. Up on the bridge the large sign seen in the 1907 view has gone and been replaced by simpler advertising painted onto the girders. The emphasis is now not so much on the range of places served but more on the fares to the City and probably in an attempt to counter tram competition. Modern eyes may imagine a painter frequently changing the stated fares but there have been periods in our history when fares and prices in general remained static for many years, either to fight competition or simply because of a very stable economy. Beneath the bridge deck two trough-like devices can be seen. Probably of wood, their purpose was to prevent the tramway overhead wires from contacting the bridge as they rose slightly owing to the upward pressure of trolley booms. However, under examination of a larger view there appears to be section isolators beneath the bridge, in other words a short neutral section.
Photo from the John Mann collection
Looking north from Bow Road bridge in August 1942. At this time the station was still as built with awnings stretching the full length and width of the platforms. The station was closed at this time, the only damage appearing to be the glazing on the stairs which was removed following damage in an air raid. The signal on the left is a Banner Repeater. They repeat the aspect of a signal further ahead where curves or structures obscure a driver’s view. The disc rotates so the horizontal bar mimics a signal arm. These signals are still used but today LED displays have replaced rotating discs.
Photo from the John Mann collection
Photo from the John Mann collection
Click here for Bow Road Station Gallery 2: c1948 - 1970