Station Name: CAMBERWELL

[Source: Nick Catford]
Date opened: 6.10.1862
Location: On the west side of Camberwell Station Road
Company on opening: London Chatham & Dover Railway
Date closed to passengers: 3.4.1916
Date closed completely: 18.4.1964
Company on closing: South Eastern & Chatham Railway
Present state:

The truncated street level building survives in Camberwell Station Road. It is now used by a firm of motor mechanics. The island platform survives but is much degraded apart from the north end where platform edging remains. The sidings are now a service road to the rear of McDowell Road. The goods yard is now a residential development called Myatt Field Court.

County: London
OS Grid Ref: TQ322767
Date of visit: October 1967, May 1968, March 1975, December 1982, December 1984, 24 December 2005 & 6 July 2014

Notes: Camberwell station opened with the LCDR's Metropolitan Extension on 6 October 1862. The station was built on a viaduct. The entrance was though a yellow-brick street level building on the down side, three storeys in height. The building was typical of others provided by the LCDR for their inner London stations and was almost identical to the main building at Elephant & Castle, having arched doors and orange-lined windows: these can still be seen at Elephant & Castle and Herne Hill. Seven months after opening the station was renamed Camberwell New Road on 1 May 1863.

As built the station had two facing platforms but, when the line was quadruped, the station was rebuilt at track level with two side platforms and a central island; the original street level building was retained. The island platform was 580ft in length and the two side platforms were about 350ft. The three platforms were linked through the arches of the viaduct. All three platforms had substantial canopies. That on the island and the down side platform were 290ft long while the up side platform was somewhat shorter at 175ft. The two additional lines were brought into use on 1 January 1866.

A two-storey signal box was located at the Blackfriars end of the island platform, and this was built to the LC&DR’s own in-house design in 1885/6. It was virtually a mirror image of the signal box which still survives at Shepherds Well and is the only surviving example of the standard design box produced between the late 1870s and early 1880s by the LC&DR. It survives with the original windows and decorative end bargeboards intact and is Grade II listed.

The signal box controlled all movements around the station including the small goods yard on the up side. The yard was at a lower level with a set of steps down to it from the west end of the up platform. The yard opened with the station and comprised two sidings with a generous goods shed at the west end which was not directly rail-connected. Access to the yard was from the north side of Denmark Road close to its junction with McDowell Street. The yard had limited facilities and handled only general goods and parcels. It was also used by the Great Northern Railway and the Midland Railway via the Metropolitan Extension and by the London & South Western Railway via the LB&SC and SE&C lines.

The station reverted to its original name, Camberwell, on 1 October 1908. It was initially well used but, as with many inner London stations, the introduction of electric trams brought a dramatic reduction in passenger receipts dropping from £3,000 in 1905 to just £900 in 1912 and £700 in 1914. This low passenger use could not be maintained. One-by-one trains on a variety of routes ceased to call at Camberwell, and the station closed on 3 April 1916 with the withdrawal of the SEC's circuitous Metropolitan Extension service from Moorgate Street to Victoria. The LSW service from Ludgate Hill to Richmond had stopped calling at Camberwell a few years earlier. At the time the closure was considered temporary but it was never to reopen. The goods yard remained in use and was now the only SE&CR-owned goods yard located between Blackfriars and Herne Hill.

All the track level buildings were demolished by 1924. Only the island platform with its signal box and the street level building survived. At some time the building lost its upper floor, perhaps following enemy action in WW2. A 1952 map, reproduced below, shows the building as a ruin. It was later renovated and to this day it remains on use as a motor repair workshop.

By the early 1950s the goods shed had been demolished and it is likely the yard handled only coal by this date. The yard remained open until 18 April 1964 leaving only the signal box still in use. This was given new signage by 1967, seeing an early usage of British Rail's new Corporate Identity which was launched in 1965.The box finally closed on 15 February 1970.

In the 1990s there was a well organised campaign to reopen the station but if Camberwell does ever get a new station it is more likely to be an underground station. Camberwell was almost provided with a tube station in the 1930s. This was scuppered by the war, but was revived in the late 1940s when an extension of the Bakerloo line from Elephant & Castle appeared on some maps as 'under construction'; it was even shown on illuminated signs such as this one at Maida Vale. Southwark Council has now pledged £50,000 to carry out a feasibility study for a tube station.

Additional sources: London's Disused Stations Volume 3 - The London Chatham & Dover Railway. JE Connor. Connor & Butler 2002. Kent Rail web site.

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 Michael Stewart. Bradshaw from Chris Hind. Route map drawn by Alan Young.

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 L C D R's 'City Line' click on the station name: Loughborough Junction, Walworth Road, Borough Road, Blackfriars Bridge, Blackfriars, Ludgate Hill, Holborn Viaduct,
Snow Hill/Holborn Viaduct Low Level & Farringdon

Looking north-west at the remains of Camberwell station from a passing steam train in 1949. Note the change to the platform in front of the signal box to allow the signalman to reach the track easily. The top of the stairwell is seen on the right.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

1898 1:1,056 OS Town Plan. This shows the layout of the station after the line was quadrupled. The island platform is noticeably longer than the two side platforms. The shaded area indicates the extent of the canopies. Note the steps at the south end of the down platform allowing staff to reach the goods yard which was at a lower level. There is no direct rail connection to the goods shed which would have allowed goods to be loaded directly onto wagons. Click here for a larger version of this map.

1952 1:1,056 OS map. Only the north end of the island platform remains, clearly retained for the use of the signalman and permanent way staff; the station building as shown as a ruin. It is likely that it was damaged by enemy action during WW2 and at this time it had not yet been renovated for later commercial use. The goods shed has been demolished with only the coal yard remaining.

A goods train hauled by C class 31576 is seen on the crossover at the north end of Camberwell's island platform in February 1957. The top of the stairwell is seen on the right. The building close to the entrance to the goods yard is a private warehouse. The sign above the door reads 'Practolin Distributing and Packing Co. Ltd.'
Photo by RC Riley

Looking north towards Camberwell station from a passing train in May 1968. The goods yard, which is seen on the right, closed four years earlier. The Practolin warehouse is still standing at this time. There is also a small building seen in the distance which has been built on, or close to, the site of the earlier goods shed. Note the signal box has been fitted with British Rail 'Corporate Identity' signs.
Photo by Nick Catford

Camberwell Station entrance in March 1975. Now without its upper floor the building has been renovated for commercial use. At this time it was occupied by B & L Coachcraft Ltd. The arched windows were typical in style to other stations on the London area built by the LCDR at this time.
Photo by Nick Catford

Looking south along Camberwell station platform in December 1982. The signal box has now been demolished; it stood next to the lowered section of platform. Note the steps that were built when the platform was lowered. The goods yard site has not yet been redeveloped.
Photo by Nick Catford

Looking south towards Camberwell station in December 1984
Photo by Nick Catford

Camberwell Station street-level building in Camberwell Station Road in December 2005. The building is now occupied by Pace Auto Services. Click here to see a picture of Elephant & Castle station which shows what this building would have looked like before the upper floor was removed.
Photo by Nick Catford

Part of the remaining north end of the island platform in February 2014.
Photo by Nick Catford

The site of Camberwell's 25-lever signal box in July 2014. The box was located between the two sections of platform. Part of the platform was removed after closure to allow the signalman to reach the track easily. The remaining section of platform to the left has a ramp and that to the right has steps.
Photo by Nick Catford

Aerial view showing Camberwell station. The surviving island platform is now overgrown. There is no evidence of either side platform. The truncated street level building is seen opposite the single bus. The site of the sidings is now a service road at the back of the houses in McDowall Road. The goods yard itself is now a small block of new houses, seen here on the left. Click here for a larger
version of this photo.




[Source: Nick Catford]

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