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Railway Viaduct Arches, Southwark

Description: Railway Viaduct Arches

Grade: II
Date Listed: 7 July 2011
English Heritage Building ID: 1400290

OS Grid Reference: TQ3326779888
OS Grid Coordinates: 533267, 179887
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5022, -0.0813

Locality: Southwark
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: SE1 3JZ

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Listing Text


Railway viaduct arches, 1864-6, by Charles Henry Driver for the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway. Part of the final bay of the viaduct frontage forms the eastern part of the lower storey of the southern wall of the station train shed, which is separately listed at Grade II.

Reason for Listing

The series of arches forming the southern frontage of the viaduct at London Bridge Station is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* historic interest: a surviving structure from the frenzied period of railway speculation in the 1860s, when London Bridge Station - London’s first major passenger terminus – expanded under the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway;
* design, materials and craftsmanship: the polychromatic brick arches with stone carved capitals are a rare instance of the architectural flourish usually reserved for railway stations in the Victorian period applied to track infrastructure in what was then a poor, inner-city district;
* authorship: designed by Charles Henry Driver, a Victorian architect who specialised in major civil engineering projects such as Abbey Mills Pumping Station and stations on the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway.


London Bridge Station was London's first railway terminus, opening in 1836. It was built by the London & Greenwich Railway, which ran London's first passenger steam railway line between Deptford and Spa Road in Bermondsey. This opened on 8 February 1836, before being extended to London Bridge in December of the same year. Other railway companies soon began to use the same line, paying a tariff to the London & Greenwich. The London & Croydon Railway, for example, used the northern portion of the tracks and built a small station at London Bridge in 1839.

A large Italianate terminus building with a belvedere tower, designed by Henry Roberts, was built in 1844 to serve passengers of all three railway companies which used the station at this time; it had proved too small as soon as 1847, however, and was demolished. By the 1850s, two companies operated from London Bridge, and they resolved to build adjacent termini, separated by a wall. The South Eastern Railway now used the northern portion of the tracks, and in 1851 built a three-storey Italianate station to designs by S Beazley. The London, Brighton & South Coast Railway ran on the tracks to the south and also employed Beazley to design a terminus building. In addition, the LBSCR built a French Renaissance-style station hotel on the corner of St Thomas Street and Joiner Street in 1861-2, to designs by Henry Currey, and a new train shed in 1864-6, to designs by Charles Henry Driver. At the same time, additional track was along the north side of St Thomas' Street and Crucifix Lane and this new viaduct's southern frontage decorated with polychromatic brick arches, to match the new train shed. The two companies operated parallel railway services out of London Bridge until 1925.

London Bridge Station was badly damaged in the Second World War, when Currey's station hotel (which since 1893 had served as railway company offices) was ruined, along with the parcels office. The upper storeys of some of the station frontage buildings were destroyed, but the old terminus continued to be used, for parts of it were photographed by John Gay in the 1960s. The station was largely rebuilt in 1976-8 by British Rail Architects, at which time the Victorian platform canopies and footbridges in the northern portion of the station were replaced.


The arches date to 1864-6 and decorate the southern frontage of the stock brick railway viaducts which carry trains out of London Bridge Station. There are nineteen bays, plus two larger openings for the roads that run south-north under the viaduct (Bermondsey Street and Shand Street). Each bay contains round-headed arches, mainly arranged in triplets, with a taller central arch with a keystone. The arches are dressed in polychrome brick (in red, black and white) and have carved stone capitals and hood-moulds. The capitals have stiff-leaf carving and carved male heads and eagles. The road openings are elliptical in profile, but similarly decorated. Most of the arches have radiating timber-paned fanlights. Some are blind, with brick faces, whereas others have timber or metal-paned windows; some have been altered and have modern metal roller shutters, signage, plate-glass windows or doors. One bay has been rebuilt quite recently as a single vehicular opening. Above the arches, the viaduct has a stone cornice supported on brick modillions set against a band of red brick, then a raised parapet with stone-capped brick piers. The parapet has been removed on the central portion of the viaduct where a large concrete signal box was built in the 1970s.

London Bridge Station was built and has been rebuilt in successive phases, beginning with a brick viaduct and makeshift platforms in 1836 and including, most recently, the construction deep underground of the extension to the Jubilee Line in 1999. The physical fabric of the building is thus characterised by a mixture of architectural styles and periods.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.