Kensington (Olympia) station
Southbound view from Platform 2
|Local authority||Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea|
|Managed by||London Overground|
|Number of platforms||3 (2 National Rail) |
(1 London Underground)
|London Underground annual entry and exit|
|National Rail annual entry and exit|
|Original company||West London Railway|
|Pre-grouping||West London Railway|
|Post-grouping||West London Railway|
|27 May 1844||first station opened|
|1 Dec.1844||first station closed|
|2 June 1862||second (present) station opened|
|Lists of stations|
| London transport portal|
UK Railways portal
Kensington (Olympia) is a combined rail and Tube station between Kensington and West Kensington in west London. It is managed and served by London Overground and served by Southern and London Underground. It is in Travelcard Zone 2. On the Underground it is the terminus of a short District line branch, built as part of the Middle Circle, from Earl's Court; on the main-line railway it is on the West London Line from Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction, by which many trains bypass Central London. The station's name is drawn from its location in Kensington and the adjacent Olympia exhibition centre.
A station was opened by the West London Railway as its southern terminus on 27 May 1844 as Kensington, just south of Hammersmith Road; it was closed on 1 December that year due to the losses made, but a scant and erratic goods service continued. The line was re-opened to passengers on 2 June 1862, with a new station, also called Kensington, to the north of Hammersmith Road. Great Western Railway trains started serving the station in 1863, with London & North Western Railway trains arriving in 1872. A link to the Hammersmith & City Railway enabled the Middle Circle service to operate via Paddington to the north and South Kensington to the south. The station was renamed Kensington Addison Road in 1868.
From 1869, the London & South Western Railway operated trains from Richmond to London Waterloo via Addison Road, until their branch via Shepherd's Bush closed in 1916. By 1907 the Middle Circle had been replaced by four Hammersmith & City line trains an hour. The station appears on the first 'London Underground' map in 1908 with Metropolitan and District Railway services.
In 1940, Addison Road and the link to the Metropolitan line at Latimer Road closed along with the other West London Line stations after the line was bombed and not considered effective to rebuild. Due to its ability to access all lines radiating from London, and its close location to SHAEF headquarters as well as its relative quietness compared to the main London termini, it became the preferred embarkation point for US Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower during World War II.
On 19 December 1946, the station was renamed Kensington (Olympia) and became the northern terminus of a peak-hour shuttle service to Clapham Junction, which was mainly for workers at the Post Office Savings Bank (later National Savings Bank) in nearby Blythe Road. There was also a District line shuttle to Earl's Court. The current District line bay platform opened in 1958, but the 1872 connection between the District and the main line south of the station was not finally lifted until 1992.
The West London Line has always been a main freight route from north of London to the south-east of England, but passenger services at Kensington (Olympia) were minimal, although it was used briefly as a terminus for Western Region trains in 1967 during resignalling work at London Paddington. Until 1986, the only British Rail trains were the peak-hour shuttle service to Clapham Junction (operated by Western Region diesel trains) on the Southern Region and Motorail services; occasional inter-regional InterCity workings also ran through without stopping. London Underground ran a shuttle train from Earl's Court only when an exhibition was on at Olympia. In 1981 the Motorail facility was closed. In the early 1970s, it was planned for the station to be the main London terminus for Channel Tunnel trains but plans for a Channel Tunnel were cancelled (for that era) in January 1975.
From 12 May 1986, services at the station were greatly enhanced. The London Underground shuttle service started to run to a regular daily schedule, and the inter-regional services from the Midlands and northern England were increased in frequency and now stopped at the station. Southern Region destinations included Brighton, Newhaven Harbour and Dover Western Docks. As part of this the footbridge was painted in InterCity colours. These were operated by the InterCity division of British Rail, then after privatisation by Virgin CrossCountry and later CrossCountry. Destinations included Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Piccadilly, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley, but by the time these services were withdrawn in October 2008 only two daily Brighton–Manchester journeys were operated.
There were two bay platforms on the south-eastern side mainly used by services from Clapham Junction. In the early 1990s these were filled in and the southbound platform loop closed, with a shorter platform on the southbound main line built over the loop - longer southbound trains now cross to the northbound loop to stop. The land behind the southbound platform was sold for redevelopment.
Kensington (Olympia) was included in Cold War plans to ensure continuity of government in the event of the Cold War taking a hot turn. If the government took the decision to active its Central Government War Headquarters in Wiltshire civil servants tasked with manning the facility would have been directed to join trains at this station; These trains would have connected with buses at Warminster for further transfer to the headquarters facility.
Before Eurostar transferred in November 2007 to St Pancras International, Eurostar trains passed through the station going from Waterloo International station to North Pole depot, and the station was a backup terminus for the services should Waterloo International have become unusable with immigration facilities maintained there.
The planned Regional Eurostar and Nightstar services were to call at platform 2 to undertake border control procedures. The services to Plymouth and Swansea were scheduled to change motive power from a British Rail Class 92 to a Class 37/6 here.
The link to the Great Western Main Line at North Pole Junction, 3 miles (4.8 km) to the north, avoiding Paddington station, meant that the station was to play an important role in the Cold War should a nuclear exchange have seemed likely. Secret plans entailed use of the station, in the prelude to a nuclear war, to evacuate several thousand civil servants to the Central Government War Headquarters underground bunker (codenamed "Burlington") in Wiltshire.
The ticket office was refurbished in 2011 with the upholstered seating, plants and lighting removed. A new double door entrance directly from the ticket office to the platform was installed and the old adjoining covered entrance was bricked up. People were still able to reach the footbridge from the alleyway by the side of the building and through the metal gate adjacent to it, avoiding a longer walk via the platforms. In 2012 the refurbished ticket office was closed and the entrance to the toilets from there blocked off. A new ticket office resembling a small Portakabin was built on the platform opposite the District line platform and the gate to the footbridge padlocked. The public toilets were made accessible from the doors to platform 2.
In Summer 2012, Transport for London said they wanted to introduce ticket gates at the station to combat fare dodgers, which would remove access to the footbridge used by local residents for years. Both the councils within whose boundaries this station falls have stated that they intend to challenge this loss of an established right of way. The plan to remove access to the footbridge was abandoned in April 2013 and instead, ticket gates would be introduced to divide the station and bridge into two separate lanes.
Motorail trains, which carried passengers to many parts of the country, used to terminate here. In the London Midland Region timetable for 1970-71 services are shown to Perth, Stirling, Carlisle, St Austell, Totnes, Newton Abbot and Fishguard (connecting with the ferry for Rosslare). This facility closed in 1981 with operations transferred to Paddington, Euston and King's Cross.
In September 1999 the Kosovo Train for Life that had been loaded at Butterley had its formal send-off event at Kensington Olympia railway station, before continuing via the Channel Tunnel, to Kosovo in conjunction with the Kosovo Force peace-keeping efforts.
The station is located alongside the namesake Olympia and forms a borough boundary, shared by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, the platforms accessed by Russell Road and Olympia Way respectively.
The station appears in some National Rail maps and timetables as Kensington Olympia but on London Underground and London Overground maps and station signage as Kensington (Olympia) (also used on the latest National Rail "London Connections" map). The variant with brackets is in the London Railway Atlas, published by Ian Allan in 2009. On the automated announcements and the dot matrix indicators on District line trains, the station is shown as Olympia. 'Addison Road Station' appears sculpted into a wall on the eastern pedestrian exit from the station.
The London Overground services in trains per hour are:
- 4 northbound to Willesden Junction, of which 2 continue to Stratford during the off-peak and all 4 during the peak.
- 4 southbound to Clapham Junction.
The District line shuttle to Earl's Court and High Street Kensington runs at weekends and a very limited service also operates during the early morning and evening each weekday. There is no service New Year's Eve or New Year's Day when these days fall on or partly on a weekend.
For a period before December 2011 the District line had an irregular short shuttle service of two or three trains per hour to High Street Kensington via Earl's Court. One late evening train ran daily to Upminster.
London Underground work train heads south to Lillie Bridge, 1968
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kensington Olympia station.|
- Train times and station information for Kensington (Olympia) station from National Rail
- Kensington Olympia, Subterranea Britannica disused station project. Extensive history of the station, and the West London Line.
- Kensington station 1st site (never used) and 2nd site (1844, 1862-4). From SubBrit.
|Preceding station||London Overground||Following station|
|West London Line||
towards Clapham Junction
West London Route
|Preceding station||London Underground||Following station|
Olympia branch (limited)
towards High Street Kensington
Line open, station closed
|West London Line||West Brompton|
Line and station open
Line and station closed
Line and station open
|Preceding station||London Underground||Following station|