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>>Brompton Road in the archives

1st September 1938

LONDON RAILWAYS OF THE PAST

A PRIVATELY OWNED TUBE

FORGOTTEN STATIONS

'In the description' published in The Times yesterday of the difficulties met with by the engineers of the London Passenger Transport Board during the rebuilding of the Post Office Station mention was made of the obstruction encountered when they came across part of a disused private tube built by the General Post Office some time in the last century for the conveyance of parcels. Investigation has shown however that the engineers were in error when they attributed the ownership of this forgotten tube to the Post Office. It was part of a tube to Holborn, 4 ft. 6 in. by 4 ft., which, was constructed by the Pneumatic Dispatch Company in 1860, and through which wagons were propelled by atmospheric pressure. It was not a success, and its use was abandoned many years ago. That a privately owned tube should be forgotten is not remarkable, but it is a strange indication of the short memories of Londoners that many persons have already forgotten tube railways or stations which once played an important part in London transport. The very first section of the tube railway in London and one of the first stations opened, are still in existence and can be seen to-day, although few persons are aware of the fact. This line ran from King William Street to Borough, was built in 1890, and formed part of the City and South London Tube. It was closed when the section from London Bridge to Moorgate was constructed. The old section, which passes under the Thames, is still inspected periodically to see that water does not seep through to damage the foundation of buildings over the tube.

DRIVERS ON AND OFF JOB

Another line closed by London Transport is not so much forgotten as unknown to Londoners. The line from Quainton Road to Brill, which was taken over by London Transport on its formation, provided the comic relief for those engaged in handling London's millions. A single line with five stations situated beyond Amersham, it was built by the estate owners for the transport of their workers. There were very few trains and very few passengers. When the train came to a level crossing, the engine driver had to get down to open the gates, and after passing the crossing, he had to get down again to close the gates.

London stations are soon forgotten, but there is one which London never knew. When planning a new tube the two engineers who went to survey the line stopped at the Bull and Bush at Hampstead, and agreed that it should be the terminus. Their cab went on, however, and on reaching what is now the Golders Green crossing, Mr., now Sir Harley Dalrymple-Hay, declared: “This will be the terminus," Mr. Yerkes, looking at the green fields, which surrounded them, replied, “Nonsense, there is not a house within miles." Golders Green became the terminus. The Bull and Bush, however, was not forgotten, and a station, or at least station platforms, duly appeared when the line was constructed.

For some reason no connexion was ever made with the surface. The platforms, however, are now serving a good purpose. London Transport is silencing the portion of the tube between Golders Green and Camden Town, and the Bull and Bush platforms are being used for storage of the foam slag and asbestos sheets which are to line the tunnel as noise absorbents.

PASSING BROMPTON ROAD

There are many other stations which have been closed in recent years whose existence if not forgotten is only indicated now by the hollow roar of the trains as they pass the disused platforms. "Passing Brompton Road” was once a very familiar cry on the Piccadilly line. It was finally decided to do away with the necessity for this cry by closing the station, though not until Knightsbridge Station had been rebuilt and made double ended, with one entrance near Brompton Road. Brompton Road station is now inaccessible from the street, the entrance is blocked up and the lift shafts are filled in or converted into ventilation shafts. Dover Street and Down Street stations were closed in 1932, when Green Park Station was opened.

British Museum Station, closed in 1933, when the Holbom Station was rebuilt, survived long enough afterwards to be featured in a film in which criminals used the station as their headquarters with a secret passage leading to the British Museum. South Kentish Town Station was closed in 1924, when the traffic fell off; and more recently, St. Mary's Whitechapel has been closed, partly for the same reason and partly because the removal of Aldgate East Station, 200 yards further east, will help to fill its place. York Road, on the Piccadilly Line between King's Cross and Finsbury Park, is another station which is now largely forgotten.

The materials of which some of the closed stations were constructed have been used elsewhere. In other cases, the platforms have been left untouched, but very few of the passengers in the trains which pass rapidly through the stations observe their presence.

 

Brompton Road station platform




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