Bishopsgate railway station

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Bishopsgate
ECR(1851) p16 - Bishopsgate Station.jpg
Bishopsgate is located in Central London
Bishopsgate
Bishopsgate
Location of Bishopsgate in Central London
Location
Place Shoreditch High Street
Local authority Hackney
History
Original company Eastern Counties Railway
Pre-grouping Great Eastern Railway
Post-grouping London and North Eastern Railway
1 July 1840 (1840-07-01) Opened as Shoreditch
27 July 1846 Renamed Bishopsgate
1 November 1875 Closed to passengers
5 December 1964 Closed to freight
Replaced by Bishopsgate (Low Level) and Liverpool Street
Portal icon London Transport portal
Portal icon UK Railways portalCoordinates: 51°31′24″N 0°04′36″W / 51.5234°N 0.0768°W / 51.5234; -0.0768

Bishopsgate was a railway station located on the eastern side of Shoreditch High Street in the Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green (now within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets) on the western edge of the East End of London and just outside of the City of London.

It was in use from 1840 to 1875 as a passenger station and then as a freight terminal until it was destroyed by fire in 1964. Substantial remains laid derelict until they were demolished in the early 2000s to make way for Shoreditch High Street railway station which now stands on the site.

History[edit]

The station was opened with the name Shoreditch by the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) on 1 July 1840 to serve as its new permanent terminus when the railway was extended westwards from an earlier temporary terminus at Devonshire Street, near Mile End.[1] The station was renamed Bishopsgate on 27 July 1847 with the intention of drawing more City commuters by naming it after the major thoroughfare in the heart of the financial district.

In 1862, the ECR amalgamated with a number of other East Anglian railway companies to form the Great Eastern Railway (GER). For a time the GER also used Fenchurch Street as a terminus but a lack of capacity led the GER to build a new terminus for its services at Liverpool Street which opened in 1874. Bishopsgate station was closed to passenger traffic in November 1875 and then extensively reconstructed between 1878 and 1880 to convert it into a goods station. "By May 1880 the old facade and side walls had been completely removed."[1]

The new goods station opened in 1881 and became known as Bishopsgate goods yard. A passenger station called Bishopsgate (Low Level) was provided on the new route into Liverpool Street. Platforms of this station are still visible from trains on the approach into Liverpool Street.

Map of the Bishopsgate and Liverpool Street area, 1906

As a goods depot, Bishopsgate handled very large volumes of goods from the eastern ports and was arranged over three levels with turntables and hoists allowing railway wagons to be moved individually around the station for loading and unloading. Incoming goods could be stored in the warehouse on site or transferred directly to road vehicles for onward transportation to their destinations.

A major fire on 5 December 1964 destroyed the station. Within 40 minutes of the first firefighters arriving on scene, the scale of the blaze was so intense and widespread that the London Fire Brigade had mobilised 40 fire engines. In addition, 12 aerial turntable platforms, two firehose-laying vehicles and two emergency tenders as well as 235 firefighters battled the fire which killed two customs officials and destroyed hundreds of railway wagons, dozens of motor vehicles and millions of pounds worth of goods.

The station was subsequently closed and the upper-level structures were largely demolished. Over the next 40 years much of the site became derelict. Following an extended period of planning, the entire site was demolished in 2003-04, with the exception of a number of Grade II listed structures: ornamental gates on Shoreditch High Street and the remaining 850 feet (260 m) of the so-called "Braithwaite Viaduct", one of the oldest railway structures in the world and the second-oldest in London, designed by John Braithwaite.[2] The demolition of the former Bishopsgate station made way for Shoreditch High Street station on the East London line extension in 2010, part of the new London Overground network, replacing Shoreditch tube station to the east which had closed in June 2006.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 21 November 1856, nine people were injured in a low-speed collision at Bishopsgate. The author of a Board of Trade report into the incident stated: "I have no doubt that it was occasioned by the carelessness of the driver, and a loose way of conducting the shunting in the yard; and I am of the opinion that proper instructions on the subject of signalling for the shunting of trains should form part of those issued for the guidance of drivers and shunters."[3]
  • On 22 November 1871, a head-on collision due to a driver's error and inadequate signalling resulted in a derailment. Fourteen people were injured in the incident.[4]
  • On 19 June 1872, the driver of a service from Enfield on its approach to Bishopsgate crossed the path of a Brentwood-bound train, resulting in a collision that injured eight people.[5]
  • On 9 August 1872, six people were injured when a train hit the buffers at Bishopsgate. The Board of Trade reported: "The accident appears to have been caused by miscalculation on the part of the engine-driver of the speed at which he was entering the station."[6]

References[edit]

External links[edit]