Sunday 11 September 2011

Euston, We have a Problem [5]

Underground Upheaval

This is where it all started. No. 3 son asks, "What's that underground station that isn't an underground station just outside Euston?"

This starts fbb on a quest for the complex history of the terminus of the first railway line to reach London, way back in 1837.
By the date of this 1888 map, the view of Euston's Doric Arch from Euston Square had become blocked by the station hotel. But, effectively, the entrance to the station's appurtenances was on Drummond Street. The 1960's station rebuild brought the main entrance and the subsequent office block and bus station further south to the "Euston" of Euston Square on the above map. The eastern and disconnected bit of Drummond Street was renamed Doric Way.
It was on the corner of Doric Way and Euston Road that the City and South London Railway [C&SLR] built the terminal station for its extended underground line, opening it on 12th May 1907.  The building was designed by Sidney R J Smith; as a cladding to the steel frame, Smith used white and green Doulton's Carrara-ware faience with florid detailing. Lifts descended to the single C&SLR island platform.
A subway was opened to the main line terminus on 18th May. 

From 22nd June that year a low level passage and interchage ticket office ...
... linked the C&SLR and and the newly opened Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway platforms. This map shows exactly where the two separate stations were located.
The Hampstead line had its own separate buildings on the west side of the main line station. This is the structure that fbb's No. 3 son spotted, and, indeed recognised as a former Undergound Station. The station was designed in "house style" by Leslie Green.
No 3 son had, correctly, recognised a style similar to may other currently operational stations. Well done, son; we'll make a transport enthusiast of you yet! [son replies, "Not on your nelly, fbb!"]
Leslie Green was responsible for buildings on what became the Northern, Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines which all opened in 1906 and 1907. The pressure of producing designs and supervising the works to so many stations in such a short period of time, placed a strain on Green's health. He was elected a Fellow of the RIBA in 1907, but contracted tuberculosis and died on 31 August 1908 at the age of 33.
Entrances were opened within the main line station and in the 1920s, the City line was extended again to join the Hampstead line at Camden Town. Linking passageways were built at (underground) platform level and a single booking office opened under the main station concourse. And so it has remained, though adaptations and additional access have altered the detailed layout from time to time.
A significant development was the arrival of the Victoria Line in 1968. The former island platform on the City line was extended for southbound trains and new tunnels were built for northbound services thus permitting cross platform interchange with the new line. 33 years later, the Northern and the Victoria lines ...
... both have brand new trains; capacity is being increased via new signaling and Underground traffic continues to grow.

The next big change would come with the building of the new "High Speed 2" line northwards from Euston. A  below-ground link has been promised with the Circle Lines at Euston Square.
Such a link would ease the route of passengers interchanging with main line services at Paddington and Liverpool Street as well as giving access to Metropolitan Line destinations. More Undergroud Upheaval but, ultimately, more benefits for its customers.

Despite rebuilding in the 60s and the addition of extra platforms in the early 80s; despite slicker turn-round times with modern "multiple unit" stock; the main line station is now nearing maximum capacity. Euston almost certainly NEEDS High Speed 2.
Finally (and soon) we take a tortuous tour round the bus terminal conveniently located right outside the station building.

Or is it?

Next blog : Monday September 12th  


  1. An excellent series of blogs, but first railway to reach London? My reading suggests that the London & Greenwich's London Bridge station opened in 1836. And that far back, Greenwich was in Kent.

  2. Oh dear, wrong again! I intended to refer to "main line" railways rather than suburban, although, of course, Greenwich was not suburban then, it was well out "in the sticks"! How about "The first of our current "main line" termini?
    Thank you for the technical correction. I have still failed to find ANY source that will tell me when Euston station was named "Euston".

  3. Although you mentioned that Euston Road only acquired that name in 1852, there is another street in the area called 'Euston Grove', which might perhaps have already had that name when the railway was built.

    It is possible to download a PDF copy of a booklet that was produced when the new Euston Station was opened in 1968 from:-

    and this has an image on page 7 which mentions 'Euston' in the caption (part of the image), and the note in the booklet suggests that this image dates from 1838.

    This site:-

    refers to the hotels adjacent to the portico which were built in 1839, and one of those was also called 'Euston' - which suggests that the name was already in use for the station.

  4. I am sure the captions to which you refer were added with good intent, BUT until the New Road was named Euston Road, that insignificant Suffolk settlement appears to have been unknown in the big City. I THINK historians (and caption writers) have made unwarranted assumptions and provided an unjustified "back story". I'll keep looking.
    Note that the 1880 map at the head of this blog calls it "LNWR Railway Terminus", NOT Euston Station!

  5. You might want to check this one:-

    "Euston Grove" would appear to have been the initial name of the station.

  6. I have a facsimile copy of Pigot & Co's 1840 book of maps of English counties, and it refers to the station at "Euston-square", adding "the line, however, is projected to terminate in the City". More intriguingly, it tells us that "the original estimate was two and half a millions, but the entire cost has considerably exceeded five millions!". Underestimated engineering costs are, it would seem, nothing new (Edinburgh trams please note).

  7. Thanks, both. It would appear that you have strong evidence for "Euston" being around before Euston Road and it is I that have jumped to the wrong conclusion. Easy done! This has proved far more fascinating that I had expected with (still) a slight unease about the name of the Station?

  8. This demonstrates one of the benefits of the internet, in that one can unearth this sort of information within a few minutes, whereas previously it would have taken a visit to the reference library, and, no doubt, some hours of research work. So much that, probably, only the really dedicated would have bothered to do it.