Station Name: CRANLEY GARDENS

[Source: Nick Catford]


Date opened: 2.8.1902
Location: On the west side of Muswell Hill Road
Company on opening: Great Northern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 5.7.1954
Date closed completely: 18.5.1957
Company on closing: British Railways (Eastern Region)
Present state: Demolished - St James' primary school and the Cranwood care home (closed) are on the site of the station
County: London
OS Grid Ref: TQ284892
Date of visit: November 1966, August 1967, April 1968, May 1968, September 1968 and April 2007

Notes: Cranley Gardens station was a later addition to the line, opening on 2 August 1902 although the adjoining goods depot had been in use since 29th June 1897. The station had was a timber single-storey booking office with a hipped slate roof at street level on the west side of Muswell Hill Road. At the back of the booking office a bridge spanned the line with ramps down to the platforms. Each platform was provided with a similar timber building with a flat roof that incorporated a canopy. The canopies had a deeply fretted wooden valance around three sides. The up platform buildings comprised waiting rooms and toilets, with the gents' at the west end; it was somewhat longer than that on the down platform.

The goods yard was on the up side of the line and comprised three sidings, two of them running either side of coal bins. A number of coal merchants' office were sited between the entrance to the yard and the booking office on Muswell Hill Road. There was a weighbridge just inside the entrance to the yard. Rail access was controlled by a signal box on the down side opposite the entrance to the yard.

In 1906, a number of down sidings were laid to the west of the station for use by contractors during the construction of the Fortis Green reservoir. Once this was completed in 1908, the sidings were shortened for use during the construction of the Fortis Green pumping station. They are not shown on later maps so are assumed to have been lifted once the construction had been completed.

There was a short period of closure to passengers between 29 October 1951 and 7 January 1952 (see history below). After final closure to passengers in 1954 the station remained open for coal traffic until 18 May 1957. The track was lifted by 1958.

The station buildings were demolished over several years in the mid 1960s. The west end of the station site was cleared during the construction of the St James' primary school which opened on 11 June 1968. The east side of the station including that end of the platforms survived until summer 1970 when the site was cleared during the construction of the Cranwood care home which later closed in 2013.

The Muswell Hill Road bridge is extant and is now part of the Parkland Walk footpath which continues over the viaduct almost to the site of Muswell Hill station.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FINSBURY PARK TO ALEXANDRA PALACE LINE
The Edgware, Highgate & London Railway obtained an Act in 1862 to build a line from a junction with the GNR at Seven Sisters Road (now Finsbury Park) to Edgware. The following year the Midland Railway received authority to build a line between Bedford and St. Pancras which would provide a quicker route into central London from the Mill Hill area so to improve the prospects of their Edgware line the EH & LR proposed a branch from Highgate to Muswell Hill serving the new Alexandra Palace leisure complex and an extension of the main line from Edgware to Watford.



Both proposals were approved by Parliament in 1864 as was a further branch from Finchley to High Barnet in 1866. In 1866 a further act was obtained by the independent The Muswell Hill & Palace Railway to extend the branch from Muswell Hill to a terminus adjoining the Palace.

The ‘main line’ between Seven Sisters Road and Edgware proved more costly than expected and shortly before completion the local company was taken over by the Great Northern who opened the line on 22nd August 1867 with intermediate stations at Crouch End, Highgate, East End Finchley, Finchley, Hendon and Mill Hill; but the extension to Watford was never built. On the 1st April 1872 the High Barnet branch was opened with the Alexandra Palace branch opening on 24th May 1873; the section between Muswell Hill and Alexandra Palace was still owned by the Muswell Hill & Palace Railway although worked by the GNR. The Alexandra Palace branch was an immediate success providing the most convenient route to the Palace from central London but the services was suspended a few weeks after opening when the palace was gutted by fire and was not reinstated until May 1875. Initially the branch was well used but within a year the MH & PR was in financial difficulty as passenger numbers fell dramatically. Several periods of closure for the terminus followed as the GNR failed to attract residential traffic to the line.

Suburban growth on the main line as far as Finchley began in the 1860’s and a further station at Stroud Green was opened on 11th April 1881. Residential traffic between Muswell Hill and Highgate was also improving and an additional station at Cranley Gardens was opened in 1902 but Alexandra Palace station continued to be underused.

In 1911 the Muswell Hill & Palace Railway was purchased by the GNR and although passenger numbers had improved this was halted by competition from the new more convenient tram services. Through trains to central London outside the rush hour were withdrawn during WW1 when a weekday shuttle between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace was introduced.  Although the full weekday service was restored at the end of the war the branch was never to fully recover and passenger numbers at all stations between Highgate and Alexandra Palace plummeted.

In 1935 the London Passenger Transport Board announced their 'New Works Plan' which included a proposal to take over the ex-GNR line between Finsbury Park and Edgware and High Barnet, including the Alexandra Palace branch.

These would be incorporated into the Northern Line with a new connection with the Northern City line at Finsbury Park providing a fast and frequent service of electric trains into central London.



The New Works plan was adopted and shortly before the start of WW2 the lines began to appear on underground maps. It was expected that Northern Line trains would be running into Alexandra Palace by 1940. Work on the electrification and new infrastructure started alongside the steam service which continued to operate.

With the start of WW2 the service was once again reduced although work on the electrification of the Alexandra Palace branch ceased in 1940 although some work continued north of Highgate on the Edgware and High Barnet lines.

London Transport had every intention of completing their New Works plan and although several lines, including the Alexandra Palace branch were shown 'under construction' on some underground maps until 1950 work never restarted.On 3rd July 1939 the existing northern line service was extended from Archway to East Finchley where it surfaced alongside the LNER line from Finsbury Park just south of the station.  The steam trains which formerly served High Barnet and Edgware was cut back to East Finchley and after March 1941 all trains were diverted to Alexandra Palace instead but this improvement in service was short lived with all through trains were withdrawn and once again replaced by a limited shuttle.

Through services to Kings Cross were reinstated after the war but were suspended to save coal between 29th October 1951 and 7th January 1952. After local pressure a peak hour only service using Victorian locomotives and ancient rolling stock was reinstated but it was clear that final closure couldn't be held off for long and closure was announced in 1953 as the number of passengers travelling on the line didn't justify its electrification.  A shuttle service continued to run until the 3rd July 1954 when all stations closed to passenger traffic.

Freight traffic continued to serve Muswell Hill until 14th June 1956, and Cranley Gardens until 18th May 1957 after which date the line north of Park Junction was abandoned. The conductor rails were removed between January 1954 and February 1955 and the track north of Park Junction was lifted by early 1958. The section of line between Finsbury Park and Highgate remained open to freight traffic with Highgate High Barnet and Mill remaining open until 1st October 1962 and Edgware until 1 June 1964

The line was also used for a weekly transfer of tube stock between Drayton Park and Highgate Wood sidings until 29th September 1970, with trains being hauled by LT battery locomotives. This eventually ceased because of the condition of a bridge and the flyerover lover the main line north of Finsbury Park. The reaming track was lifted in January 1972. 

Before final closure the line had been used as an unofficial walkway. The section between Cranley Gardens and Alexandra Park including the St. James Lane viaduct was adopted as a Parkland Walk by Haringey Council in 1976 and the section between Finsbury Park and Highgate was similarly adopted a few years later. The Parkland Walk was officially opened in 1984 following extensive re-surfacing and improvements to access. The 3.9 mile walkway and cycleway is divided into two sections Finsbury Park to Highgate and Cranley Gardens to Muswell Hill and is now London's longest nature reserve and is incorporated into the 78 mile Capital Ring.

Main historical source: London Railway Record No's. 6 & 7 (January & April 1996) published by Connor & Butler.

Further reading: Northern Wastes by Jim Blake and Jonathan James published 1987 by North London Transport Society ISBN 0 3267304 02

Other web sites: Northern Heights - includes many pictures of the line in April 1970
Piccadilly line.org.uk web site, Underground History web site, Abandoned tube stations web site,
Urban 75 web site & A wander along the Northern Heights.


Tickets from Michael Stewart, Bradshaw from Nick Catford. Route map drawn by Alan Young.

Special thanks to Ian Baker, Peter Wright, Jim Connor, Jim Blake, John Alsop, Brian Hardy, Dave Bosher and Richard Casserley and others for their photographs and Brian Halford for the tickets.

To see other Stations on the Finsbury Park - Alexandra Palace line click on the station name: Finsbury Park, Stroud Green, Crouch End, Highgate, Muswell Hill & Alexandra Palace


Cranley Gardens Station Gallery 1: c1905 - 1958

Cranley Gardens station looking east c.1905. Access to the platforms was from the rear of the street level building on Muswell Green Road. At the back of the building there was a footbridge which spanned the tracks immediately west of the Muswell Road bridge. From the bridge two ramps led down to the platforms; that serving the down platform is seen here.
Copyright photo from Paul Laming collection




1896 1:2,500 OS map. Although the station didn't open till 1902 the goods yard opened in 1897. Although no sidings have yet been laid this map shows the land required has been cleared
ready for the yard.

1912 1:2,500 OS map shows the layout of Cranley Gardens station and goods yard, The station had two facing platforms in a cutting and on a curve, The main station building was on the up (south) platform with a smaller building on the down platform. Both buildings are shown with a canopy stretching across to the platform edge (it only stretched part way). The booking office is seen on the west side of Muswell Hill Road on the up side of the line, At the rear of the building s footbridge spans the tracks with ramps down to the platforms. The down ramp also has an entrance on Muswell Hill Road. The entrance to the goods yard is to the south of the station alongside the booking office. Coal Merchants' offices are seen alongside the booking office and a weighbridge (WM) is seen just inside the entrance. The yard comprises three sidings, two running either side of the coal depot. The station signal box is shown on the down side opposite the entrance to the goods yard. Down sidings are also shown these are the truncated remains of sidings laid in 1906 for contractors building the Fortis Green reservoir. Once this had been completed the sidings were truncated in 1908 and used during the construction of the Fortis Green pumping station. Click here for larger version

1912 1:2,500 OS map. Little has changes since the earlier map. There is a new building just inside the entrance to the goods yard. The down sidings have been removed with the Fortis Green pumping station now on the site. Click here for larger version

1948 pocket map of the London Underground showing the lines under construction. Click here to see the full map.

Looking north along Muswell Hill Road c 1905. The entrance to the goods yard is on the far left, next to it are several coal merchants' offices and, beyond that, the entrance to the booking office. Beyond the booking office the hump of the bridge over the line is clearly seen.
Photo from John Mann collection

Cranley Gardens station looking east from the down platform c 1905. Both platforms were provided with similar wooden buildings with a flat roof that also acts as a canopy stretching part way across the platform. Both canopies have a deeply fretted wooden valance around three sides. The gents' toilet is seen at the west end of both buildings. At the far end of the up platform building the ramp up to the booking office on Muswell Hill Road is seen.
Photo from John Mann collection

The grouping in 1923 brought new signage to the station as seen in this view of Cranley Gardens street level building on Muswell Hill Road in August 1935. Herbert Clark, one of the coal merchants at the station has his office next to the booking office.
Photo from Jim Lake collection

A Gresley designed N2/2 0-6-2T 4614 is seen at Cranley Gardens station in June 1937 with an Alexandra Palace to Finsbury Park train. The ramp up to the bridge at the rear of the booking office is seen on the right. This loco was built at Doncaster works in August 1921. The small chimneys were to suit the Metropolitan loading gauge for working to Moorgate. 4614 lasted until 30 September 1961 when it was withdrawn from New England shed and cut up at Doncaster works the next month.
Photo from John Mann collection

Cranley Gardens station presents a clean and tidy appearance in this view east along the down platform in June 1937. Note the station name in the glass panel on the gas lamps which helped passengers identify the station at night.
Photo from John Mann collection

Looking east from the footbridge from Lanchester Road towards Cranley Garden station circa early 1950s.The main lines are to the left with the line on the right running into Cranley Gardens goods yard. The station signal box is seen in the centre. The building on the left is the
Fortis Green pumping station. Click here for a larger version of this photo.
Photo from John Mann collection

Looking west at Cranley Garden station c 1957 shortly after closure of the station to all traffic. Station signs have been removed but the track is not rusty and has clearly been used recently.
Photo from John Mann collection

Cranley Garden station looking east from the derelict down platform in April 1961. The track was lifted in 1958 and the station is slowly returning to nature. The goods yard was on the right behind the trees.
Photo by Ron Fisher from his Flickr photostream

Cranley Gardens signal box in April 1961. The Metropolitan Water Board's Fortis Green pumping station in Woodside Avenue is seen in the background. The box controlled access to the goods yard and sidings on the site of the pumping station. These was laid in 1906 to facilitate the construction of the Fortis Green reservoir.  After the reservoir was completed in 1908, the sidings remained in a truncated form and was used in the construction of the pumping station.
Photo by Ron Fisher from his Flickr photostream

Click here for Cranley Gardens Station Gallery 2:
c1962 - March 2007

 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]



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