Saturday, March 04, 2023

London's lost railway terminus: Broad Street in 1983

I blogged about London's Broad Street station years ago:

As Disused Stations 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 6000 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.

It's so long ago that the Broadgate development of the late 1980s (Margaret Thatcher had herself photographed driving a bulldozer there as though she were demolishing the station herself) has now been redeveloped.

I'm pretty sure that it was in the spring of 1983 that I was the only person to get off a train at Broad Street on a sunny Saturday afternoon. And I think all these photos were taken that day.

1 comment:

Frank Little said...

The Broad Street to Richmond line was worked by the so-called "American" train sets with their distinctive clerestory roofs. Does anybody have a picture? I have not found one.

However, the first Mersey Railway electric units were similar and there is an image in the relevant wikipedia entry. One of my nerdish boasts is that I have ridden on both.