sr.png (1653 bytes)

Charing Cross

London's Charing Cross station, the West End terminus of the South Eastern Railway, opened to train services on 11th January 1864. The line from London Bridge had been extended along a brick viaduct amongst the rooftops of the densely built-up area on south bank of the Thames. It can claim to be the most central railway station in London since the Eleanor Cross, the point from which all distances from London in the UK are measured, is situated in what became the station's forecourt.

Being built on a restricted site the station has only ever had six platform faces which for all of the station's existence have had to balance long distance services with a busy commuter operation. This had led to the operation of the platforms probably being the most skilful and intensive of any Southern London terminus.

On 5th December 1905 there was a disaster at the station when one of the tie rods in the trainshed roof failed and the whole structure collapsed. Fortunately it did so slowly enough for passengers on the platforms to be evacuated and an approaching train to be stopped, but the roof was being worked on at the time and two of the workmen on the roof were killed, as was a bookstall vendor and three passers-by in the street where most of the girders fell. The roof was rebuilt in 1906 where it remained until the late 1980s when it was removed to make way for an air-rights development of a futuristic-looking office block which is currently occupied by an international accountancy and consultancy organisation. With the frontage of the station onto the Strand being occupied by a French Renaissance style hotel and the remainder now by an office block the visual impact of the station is much reduced and perhaps more in keeping with its smart surroundings. However acting against this, being situated on the north bank of the Thames the station approach is via Hungerford Bridge, often described as being a complete eyesore. In fact the bridge has its own heritage having reused the piers of a Brunel designed suspension footbridge on the same site - the chains being recycled in the famed Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. The bridge has a pedestrian walkway on its north (downstream) side affording a good view of trains, particularly their underframes and bogies (and looking he other way affords a grand view of the City of London)! Today as part of the South Bank regeneration project two new pedestrian walkways are being built either side of the bridge and the piers are being extended to take these since the existing structure cannot bear any additional weight.

 
Charing Cross The street frontage of Charing Cross station and hotel as pictured on 19th October 2000 from Duncannon Street.

photograph by Colin Duff

>  
A closer view of the French Renaissance style frontage with the hotel above the station entrances.

photograph by Colin Duff

Charing Cross
 
Charing Cross The strictly limited parking/waiting space in the forecourt has to vie for ground-space with the Eleanor Cross, the point from which all distances from London in the UK are measured.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The geographically north eastern side of the station concourse - serving mostly suburban services - on 19th October 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

Charing Cross
 
Charing Cross The geographically south western side of today's station concourse serving mostly main line services.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The 1906 roof is pictured in this now classic 1970 view with unrefurbished 4 Cep unit 7164 on the left and 2 EPB 3735 on the right.

photograph by Michael Taylor

Charing Cross
 
Charing Cross The now long-gone Charing Cross signal box pictured in June 1970.

photograph by Michael Taylor

 
Charing Cross
Built in the early 1990s this massive office block now covers the concourse end of all platforms - as seen from the British Airways London Eye on 2nd June 2000. It is arguably more attractive than the 1906 roof it replaced.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
Charing Cross
Hungerford Bridge not only forms the final approach to the station but platforms extend onto it. Work can be seen underway to build two new pedestrian walkways either side of the railway. The existing walkway is downstream - the other side as pictured in this photograph.

photograph by Colin Duff


 
A Connex South Eastern class 465 Networker unit is pictured on the south bank approach to Charing Cross, all of which are on brick viaducts, here passing the Royal Festival Hall.

photograph by Colin Duff

Charing Cross

All photographs are copyright

return to Southern Maps

return to picture gallery page

This page was last updated 3 December 2002

SR Target

Valid CSS!    Valid HTML 4.01!