Exploring Southwark and discovering its history
The brightly painted iron insignia of the London Chatham and Dover Railway is a familiar landmark on the south east corner of Blackfriars Bridge. It dates from the opening in 1864 of Blackfriars Bridge Railway Station on the line from Kent that continued on to the newly built Farringdon Station.
By 1862 the railway line constructed by LCDR from Kent had reached Elephant and Castle and two years later reached the river at Blackfriars Bridge Station with an intermediary station called Borough Road at the junction of Borough Road and Southwark Bridge Road. Passengers descended from the station to the street by a slope, and the space underneath the platforms was used for freight. From 1866 the railway continued along a newly constructed railway bridge over the River Thames on to Farringdon where it was possible for passengers to interchange onto the newly built Metropolitan Line.
The new line to Farringdon was very popular and the original railway bridge was only wide enough for four tracks so a second bridge was built 20 years later to accommodate more trains. A new station called St Paul’s (renamed Blackfriars Station in 1937) was opened on the north side of the river in 1886 which connected with the District Metropolitan Underground Line. Blackfriars Bridge Station had closed to passengers a few months previously but remained as a goods depot until 1964. Only used as a passenger station for just over 20 years, Blackfriars Bridge station was an impressive building built in yellow brick with an arched iron and glass roof and only demolished in the 1960s.
The original railway bridge that crossed the river from Blackfriars Bridge Station closed in 1971 and demolished in 1985 save for the supporting piers. Now painted bright red, it was not possible to demolish these without causing damage to the foundations of the later railway bridge. They were recently brought into service to form an access bridge during the recent rebuilding work at Blackfriars Station.
Blackfriars Station now has an entrance and ticket hall on the Bankside side of the river, not far from the original Blackfriars Bridge Station. Apparently it would have cost too much money to rename the station Blackfriars and Bankside.