London Blackfriars

Though most services pass through now rather than terminating here London Blackfriars, which started life as St Paul’s in 1886, was one of the original ‘Big Twelve’ mainline termini that ringed central London so I have given it its own entry rather than lumping it in with the Underground station of the same name. And it is a not uninteresting station. These days, after both a 20th and a 21st Century rebuild it is decidedly unusual in being built on a bridge across the river, uniquely giving it entrances on both sides of the river. Funnily enough, unlike North Greenwich which migrated from north to south, the original Blackfriars Station was south of the river close to today’s Southwark station and just to the South of yet another Blackfriars station: this time called Blackfriars Bridge. Brickwork showing the range of destinations, from Antwerp to Wiesbaden, at least theoretically accessible from Blackfriars Bridge station has been preserved, slightly irritatingly for
my categorization scheme in Blackfriars Underground station. So starting on the south side, moving north and then stretching back across the river: an interesting history. The new station is 50% solar powered by panels on what is now a roof over the bridge that had previously only provided rail access to the station. That bridge fell apart between its opening in 1886 and final death 99 years later. Since 1985 all that is left of the bridge are the piers some of which have been incorporated into the new station with the remaining ones looking quite ghostly in the right conditions. Views into The City from the platforms are nothing less than spectacular and must be amongst the best from any city railway station in the world. Actually, I have no way of knowing whether that is true but would love to hear of a better view from a railway platform. Apart from the view, I have to admit that things are just a little bland here. On the other hand, the boyishly good looking Architectural Critic (… of the Evening Standard!), Kieran Long, is very irritated, thinks the whole thing is dreadful (13/06/2012) and hardly stands comparison with, for example, St Pancras. He is very put out about it all, so much so that the tone of his article reminded me of nothing so much as one of those early 20th Century Railway Gazette editorials that were awfully peeved about such dreadful vulgarities as calling the Underground Railway ‘The Tube’. Unlike the great 19th Century mainline termini, Kieran tells us, this Tube and minor overground station will not stand the test of time. He confidently anticipates it will be gone in no time, “no one”, pronounces Kieran with certainty, “will shed a tear in 80 years when it is once again taken to pieces and something new put in its place”. Golly, that’s tellin’ ‘em!

Most of the pictures were taken with my mobile phone and, I agree, they are not up to much. I aim to go back to rectify.

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2 Responses to London Blackfriars

  1. whiff says:

    The view across Sydney Harbour from Circular Quay Station takes some beating.

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