Station Name: SILVERTOWN

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 19.6.1863
Location: South side of Albert Road
Company on opening: Great Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 9.12.2006
Date closed completely: 9.12.2006
Company on closing: Silverlink Trains
Present state: The station is currently extant - there is a proposal to use the station as part of a heritage line. Although the up platform has been demolished some of the overgrown up track still remains. Behind the station a level crossing on the Silverlink Tramway is still extant linking Factory Road with Woolwich Road with track still embedded in the road. Click here to see pictures.
County: London
OS Grid Ref: TQ421801
Date of visit: September 1994 & 12.2006

Notes: Silvertown Station opened in 1863; it had two staggered platforms. The station was rebuilt in 1885, the down platform was resited opposite the up platform although still with a stagger. After rebuilding, the station entrance was through a doorway beneath the signal box on the up side of the line. The original route of the North Woolwich line, later known as the Silvertown Tramway ran behind the up platform to join the North Woolwich route just east of the station.

After 1969 only the down platform was used for passenger traffic while the up line was retained for freight. A decline in use of the line led to its singling in 1979 and the station was rebuilt with a new building and entrance on the down side. The wooden platform on the up side was removed at this time.

After third rail electrification of the line in 1986 services were increased and the single track section became a bottleneck. After London City Airport opened at the Royal Albert Dock nearby there was an attempt to offer the station for connection to the airport, the station being renamed Silvertown and London City Airport on 4 October 1987, but the walk through adjacent side streets, and the relatively infrequent service, which was peripheral rather than into central London, led to little air passenger traffic.

The station was closed on 29th May 1994 in connection with the building of the Jubilee Line extension (which did not serve Silvertown) and was reopened on 29th October 1995. By 30th September 2001 the station had reverted to Silvertown in timetables although the suffix '& London City Airport' was retained on the station.

The station closed with the North Woolwich branch on 9 December 2006. The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) Woolwich Arsenal branch now provides a substitute service for much of this part of the North London Line, the nearest DLR station to Silvertown railway station is London City Airport.

The station buildings and platforms were demolished in 2012 as part of the construction of Crossrail by Vinci, the contractor responsible for the reconditioning of Connaught Tunnel. Despite talk about providing a replacement station nearby, this was not included in the Crossrail Act 2008. Nevertheless, passive provision will be made for a station to the east in the event of development of nearby properties.

In 1833 a railway line was proposed from Limehouse, to the north bank of the Thames opposite Woolwich. Nothing came of this scheme but in 1842, George Parker Bidder put forward a proposal to link the Eastern Counties Railway at Stratford with the Thames to enable seaborne coal to be distributed throughout East Anglia.

Bidder's scheme was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1844 as the Eastern Counties & Thames Junction Railway, with powers for a line from Stratford to a terminus on the Thames near the mouth of Bow Creek. It was opened between Stratford and Barking Road on 29th April, 1846 and was purchased by the E.C.R. in August of that year.

Meanwhile, in 1845, an Act had been obtained for the North Woolwich Railway, which was to extend the Thames Junction line to a point on the river opposite Woolwich. Despite opposition from the Board of Trade the bill was passed as the line would provide access to Woolwich and its arsenal which at that date was without a railway connection.

After completion, the North Woolwich Railway was bought by the E.C.R. in 1847 and the 21 mile line was opened on 14th June, 1847, together with a curve to the main line at Stratford, enabling through trains to be run between the Eastern Counties terminus at Shoreditch and North Woolwich. There were two intermediate stations at Stratford Bridge (later Stratford Market) and Barking Road (later Canning Town).

The branch quickly proved popular and an hourly service was established between Shoreditch and North Woolwich where two steam ferries, owned by the railway, provided the connection to Woolwich itself.

The line was extended northwards to a junction with the North London Railway at Victoria Park on 15th August 1854, to accommodate these trains; a new station was opened at Stratford Low Level. On 31st March 1858, the London Tilbury & Southend Railway opened a loop to the North Woolwich line at Abbey Mills providing a route into Fenchurch Street.

In 1849 the South Eastern Railway opened their line to Woolwich resulting in a huge loss in revenue to the North Woolwich line. In an attempt to gain revenue there was some development around the remote North Woolwich terminus. Silver & Company established a factory adjacent to the line and prospered to such an extent that the locality became known as Silvertown.

In 1850 the Victoria Dock Company was authorised by Act of Parliament to construct a dock east of Bow Creek and immediately north of the railway. The entrance to the dock cut across the railway and to avoid disruption to traffic the North Woolwich branch was diverted around the north side of the dock, to rejoin the original line about three-quarters of a mile west of the terminus. A station was opened on the new line at Custom House. The original line was retained to provide railway connections to the numerous factories which sprang up along the river bank crossing the entrance to Victoria Dock by a swing bridge; it was known as the Silvertown Tramway.

Victoria Dock opened in 1855 and was an immediate success with its direct connection to the Great Eastern Railway. The district surrounding the railway quickly prospered with new stations opening at Tidal Basin and Silvertown. In 1862 the E.C.R. merged with other lines to form the Great Eastern Railway.

In 1874 the Beckton gasworks company opened a single-line branch from Custom House to their works and in 1880, another branch was opened from Custom House to a terminus at Gallions close to the dock basin where the P. & O. liners berthed.

In 1864, the Victoria Dock passed to the London & St. Katherine Dock Company, which, in 1880, opened the Albert Dock as an easterly extension of the Victoria; it was joined to the latter by a short cut. It was again necessary to divert the North Woolwich line and an 1875 Act gave the dock company powers to divert the loop line through a tunnel under the cut between the two docks. The original line was retained as the high-level route owned by the dock company but in the event of the tunnel becoming impassable through any cause, the Great Eastern the right to use the original route free of charge until the tunnel was again fit for use.

In 1872 the Great Eastern Railway opened a new line from Bethnel Green to Stoke Newington and Lower Edmonton with a branch from this line at Seven Sisters opening to Palace Gates in 1878. On 1st January 1880 a new spur was opened allowing a new service to be established between Stratford and Palace Gates, this service later ran through to North Woolwich.

Both the Gallions and the Beckton branches were closed to passengers on September 7, 1940. Tidal Basin Station was closed to all traffic from 15th August 15 1943 after it was damaged by enemy action. Freight traffic to and from the docks was also affected inevitably by the war. In the early war years labour and equipment were transferred from London to other ports, but in 1944 preparations for D-Day put a heavy strain on the railways feeding the London docks.

After the war passenger numbers were in decline with commuters finding the busses and trolleybuses more convenient; freight traffic was initially less affected but road haulage was beginning to make significant inroads. Passenger trains continued to run between Palace Gates and North Woolwich with short workings to and from Stratford Low Level. Stratford Market Station closed in 1957 and weekend services were withdrawn shortly afterwards. The service between North Woolwich and Palace Gates was withdrawn in 1963 and by the mid 1960's freight traffic had dwindled away to almost nothing and one by one the local goods depots were closed with the final blow coming in the late 1960s with the rapid decline of their docks.

The goods service was withdrawn from North Woolwich in 1970 and the passenger service was expected to follow with the line east of Custom house being reduced to single track. A reprieve came at the end of the 1970's when the GLC joined forces with British Rail to revitalize the North Woolwich line by extending the service from Stratford over the freight only North London line to Dalston Junction.

The line between Stratford and Dalston Junction had not seen a passenger service since 1943. New stations at Hackney Wick & Hackney Central were provided and all the stations between Stratford & North Woolwich were rebuilt. At North Woolwich this included the closure of the 1854 Grade II listed building. A new entrance building was provided on the south side of the line and the track re-laid into the southern platform to serve it. A new station provided at West Ham for interchange with the District Line.

The old station building and down (northern) platform were acquired by the Passmore Edwards Trust and after renovation the Old Station Museum was opened by the Queen Mother in November 1984. In May 1985 the line between North Woolwich and Dalston was electrified with a new service introduced between North Woolwich and Richmond with the resumption a full weekend service.

Despite this huge investment in the North Woolwich Line its future was not secure. With the expansion of the Docklands Light Railway the line between Stratford Low Level was closed on 9th December 2006. The section between Royal Victoria and Stratford has been handed over to the DLR and will be rebuilt as an extension to the DLR between Royal Victoria and Stratford International, due to open in 2010. The section between Custom House and North Woolwich was closed completely as both North Woolwich and Silvertown stations are within 300 yards of existing DLR stations.

There are proposals to hand much of this section of the line over to Crossrail who will incorporate it into their route but construction is unlikely to begin until at least 2013. In the meantime the Old Station Museum at North Woolwich is due to be cleared of its exhibits and archive and the Grade II listed building will be handed over to The London Rail Heritage Centre who are proposing to run a heritage rail service between North Woolwich and Custom House and a rail school until the land is required. This will include the building a new servicing facility on part of the former goods yard.


To see the other stations on the Stratford Low Level - North Woolwich line click on the station name: Stratford Low Level, Stratford Market, West Ham, Canning Town (2nd), Canning Town (3rd), Tidal Basin
& North Woolwich

See also Gallions & Beckton branch lines and the Silvertown Tramway

Silvertown Station looking east in c.1910
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

1865 1:1,056 Town Plan shows the original layout of Silvertown station with staggered platforms. The main station building is seen on the up side. The original course of the line is
shown but devoid of track.
Photo by Nick Catford

1865 1:1,056 Town Plan shows Silvertown station after rebuilding in 1885. The station now has two facing platforms spanned by a footbridge although still with a stagger. The original course of the line, by now known as the Silvertown Tramway has been reinstated on this map. A siding runs into the India-Rubber, Gutta-Percha and Telegraph Works to the south of the station.

Silvertown station looking west along the up platform c1950s.
Photo from John Mann collection

Silvertown station up platform seen from the footbridge that spans both the North Woolwich line and the Silvertown tramway to the west of the station. The station entrance was through the bottom
of the signal box.
Photo from John Mann collection

Silvertown station looking west in July 1975
Photo by Alan Young

Silvertown station looking east from the public footbridge at the dilapidated up platform in March 1978.
Photo by Pat Avery

Looking west towards Silvertown station in April 1978, az few months before the station was rebuilt. The Silvertown tramway is seen to the left.
Photo by Mike Bellew

Silvertown station looking east in August 1979 during the modernisation of the station,
Photo by Alan Young

Silvertown station looking east in December 1988
Photo by Alan Young

A class 313 waits at Silvertown station looking east in December 2006 - a week before closure
hoto by Nick Catford

Silvertown Station looking west in December 2006 - a week after closure
hoto by Nick Catford

Silvertown station looking west in April 2008. Little has changed since closure.
Photo by J E Connor

In October 2011 the vegetation and trackbed has been completely cleared and
preparation for Crossrail has begun
Photo by Chris McKenna reproduced from Wikipedia under creative commons licence

Silvertown station looking east in March 2012, the platform has now been demolished.
Photo by Alan Young

The site of Silvertown station in spring 2013. Note the rails from the Silvertown tramway still embedded in the road on the left.

Crossrail's trackbed under construction at the site of Silvertown station in August 2013.
Photo by Ian Mansfield

Two Crossrail test trains passing through the site of Silvertown station on 22 January 2022.
Photo by Roger Rowe

Click here for more pictures of Silvertown Station




[Source: Nick Catford]

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