Monday, October 08, 2007

Broad Street Station

The other day I had a work meeting in London and I exited the Tube at Liverpool Street. Coming out of the mainline station I was reminded of the time, more than 20 years ago, when I lived in London and Liverpool Street had another terminus for a neighbour: Broad Street.

As Subterranea Britannica records, at the start of the 20th century more than one train a minute arrived or left Broad Street during the morning rush hour. In 1902 more than 27 million passengers used the station and it was the third busiest in London.

However, the North London Line lost most of its passengers to the expansion of the bus, tram and Tube network and the station became increasingly poorly used. It was badly damaged in World War II and never fully repaired. In 1950 the main part of the station was closed. It declined steadily thereafter, becoming increasingly dilapidated, with all but two platforms disused.

It was earmarked for closure under the Beeching Axe of 1963, but local opposition persuaded the government to give it a reprieve. By the time I knew Broad Street in the mid-1980s, only 6,000 passengers per week were the station and only about 300 arrived daily in the morning peak.

I had the experience of being the only passenger to get off the train there one Saturday afternoon - not what you expect at a London terminus. But mostly I used the line late at night. I played chess for Richmond & Twickenham in the London League, and the matches took place at the Bishopsgate Institute. I used to get the last train back around the North London line to Kew. Somehow I trusted the published timetable more than the Tube, even though the train took a circuitous route via Brondesbury and Willesden Junction.

In June 1985, it was agreed that Broad Street would be closed and in November that year demolition of the station began. A single platform remained in use until 30 June 1986. Today the site of the station is lost somewhere under the Broadgate office development.

The photograph shows Broad Street in about 1980. The station is dilapidated and the tall buildings are already on the march. It is taken from the Urban75 site.

1 comment:

Jock Coats said...

I must have been amongst the last to use it regularly then. I started work in offices in Finsbury Circus in Septermber 1985 and left for Glasgow in April 1986. I lived for the first half of my London stay in Wembley and used to get the 0635 (I think) North London Line from Stonebridge Park to Broad Street pretty well throughout that time. I certainly remember the one platform and a rickety temporary overpass and staircase down to street level.