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Victoria

London's Victoria Station - the grand start and finish point for journeys to far-away romantic sounding places, seaside holidays and southern commuter-land.

The Victoria Station and Pimlico Railway was established in 1858 to extend the lines from Stewarts Lane across the river to a new terminus in a smart part of London, only a short distance from Buckingham Palace. The LBSCR station opened on 1st October 1860. This was also used by LCDR trains from the December of that year until their own station opened on 25th August 1862. From that moment until 1924 the two stations remained as totally separate entities. The LCDR station was jointly owned by the GWR until 1932 and five tracks were originally of mixed gauge to take broad gauge services from Southall.

The rather shambling original Victoria was rebuilt in a grand manner in the first decade of the 20th century with the LBSCR station being completed in 1908 and the LCDR side in 1909. Come grouping and the merger of the two companies into the Southern Railway the station was run by a single Station Master from 1924 and in 1925 the platforms were numbered as a single system starting from platform one on the Chatham side. However only small cut-throughs between the two stations were provided and within the stations still appeared separate. Even today the station is operated as two distinct set of services and though the departures and arrivals boards inform of all services there is still concentration on their own services on each side.

 
The eastern side of Victoria looking towards platforms 1 to 8.

photograph by the late Eric Arnold, courtesy of Mike Morant

Victoria
 
Victoria The "Brighton side" frontage of Victoria Station, with the hotel above, the exterior entrance to the underground station on the left and the bus station to the right,  taken from the corner of Wilton Road (as seen on 29th January 2000.)

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The entrance arch through to the "Chatham side" of the station, even today (this photograph taken on 17th May 2000) still proclaiming the presence of the Southern Railway.  The vacant thin rectangular plaque situated between the two rows of windows used to advertise the presence of the Great Western Railway.

photograph by Colin Duff

Victoria
 
Victoria The canopy was renovated in 1984 and highlights destinations, both in England and abroad, served from the station. (17th May 2000)

photograph by Colin Duff

 
This view shows the modern day Victoria to good advantage. Networker 365505 waits with the 11:05am to Ramsgate on 16th March 2003 alongside the large columns supporting the roof. These gained their present-day cladding during the station's last re-building during the late 1980s, cladding which originally had the Network SouthEast colours incorporated. In the middle ground can be seen the trainshed roof, blending in well with the more modern canopies on the country end of the platforms whilst in the background can be seen some of the new buildings that have been erected in recent years in the surrounding area.

photograph by Paul Ferbrache

Victoria
 
In the 1980s Victoria underwent a massive rebuilding programme, the greatest part of which was a major "air rights" development of offices, shops and catering outlets above the Brighton line platforms, but also building new platform barrier lines, installing new passenger information systems, expansion of retail and catering outlets, laying of Terrazzo paving over the whole concourse and finally the demolition of the dividing wall between the Chatham and Brighton sides to create visually one station. The latest alteration to the concourse has involved installing underground type automatic ticket barriers to all South Central platforms.
 
cdvic06.jpg (34928 bytes) The "Chatham side" concourse - platforms 1 to 8 - served mainly now by Connex South Eastern services including those connecting with Cross Chanel ferries. Platform 2 is the longest at the station and is often used by special trains such as the VSOE Orient Express and steam hauled excursions.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The "Brighton side" concourse (platforms 9 to 19) served by Gatwick Express and Connex South Central services. The escalators from the mezzanine level retail and catering area can just be seen to the right. Both concourse photographs taken on 8th April 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

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Victoria, especially the Chatham side with its services to the channel ports and prestigious pre-Channel Tunnel continental train services the "Golden Arrow" and the "Night Ferry", has always had a romantic and cosmopolitan feel. Not to be outdone the Brighton side also served the Newhaven-Dieppe ferries and Gatwick Airport. With the rapid rise in use of air travel from the 1960s onwards Victoria became the London Terminus serving the airport including check in facilities and lounges for some airlines. Today the airport is served the regular and intensive premium fare Gatwick Express shuttle service as well as regular service trains on the Brighton line. During the late 1980s it was planned to strengthen the station's international role by making it the terminus for both Channel Tunnel services and a shuttle from Heathrow Airport, but as history has shown these services went elsewhere. The romantic feel of the station is further reinforced by being so close to Buckingham Place and it is the terminus used by many an official state visit arriving by rail, initially from the channel Ports and in more recent times from Gatwick Airport. Add to this prestige the much-loved and much-missed premium Brighton Belle service which last ran on 30th April 1972 and today's VSOE. Pullman services (to both the continent and within the UK) Victoria retains it romantic appeal despite it being also the terminus for an intensive commuter service from Kent, Sussex and Surrey.
 
cdvic03.jpg (27913 bytes) The multi-track approach to Victoria is on a steep gradient to lift the tracks across the River Thames on the Grosvenor Bridge. The Grosvenor carriage shed can be seen on the left and the up carriage sidings (nicknamed "Pugs Hole") on the right. The derelict Battersea Power station is in the distance on the other side of the Thames.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The station approach by Ebury Bridge. An inbound Connex South Eastern class 465 Networker is just leading a class 455 unit. Both approach pictures taken on 29th January 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

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Destination board A closer look at the destination board on the "Brighton" concourse.

photograph by Colin Duff

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This page was last updated 6 December 2004

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