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St John's Wood Underground Station, Westminster

Description: St John's Wood Underground Station

Grade: II
Date Listed: 20 July 2011
English Heritage Building ID: 1401096

OS Grid Reference: TQ2673783337
OS Grid Coordinates: 526738, 183339
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5347, -0.1741

Locality: Westminster
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: NW8 6AA

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Listing Text


Underground railway station, 1939, by Stanley Heaps for London Underground. Later alterations including the replacement of Harold Stabler tile scheme in replica. For their intrinsic design significance, despite replication, the tiles have special interest.

Reason for Listing

St John's Wood Station is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* intactness: surviving original fabric including bronze shop fronts, hardwood doors, ticket hall ceiling and lighting
* rarity: one of only three surviving sets of bronze escalator uplights and two Underground roundel signs reading 'To Trains' and 'Way Out'
* interior decoration: a very rare set of seventy-six replica tiles in eighteen different designs, which faithfully reproduce the remarkable scheme designed by Harold Stabler for London Underground in 1936 and includes representations of the famous London landmarks included St Paul's Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament


By 1935, much of the framework of the London Underground system was established, and a focus on building of new lines gave way to the extension and integration of the existing system. The New Works Programme was published on the 5 June 1935 and embodied this shift in ideals. It proposed to electrify and link existing suburban railways to the Tube network, to extend the Central, Northern and Bakerloo lines, and to introduce escalators in place of lifts in existing London Underground stations. Part of the rationale for the Programme was to provide work in a time of economic torpor. The Programme ran from 1935-1940, terminated by the Second World War, and was resumed in a much-reduced form after 1945.

The Bakerloo Line extension to Stanmore was operational from 1939. St. John's Wood was one of a number of new stations on the line, officially opening on the 20 November 1939, built to designs by Stanley A Heaps. When the Jubilee Line was built in 1979, St John's Wood was transferred to that line. The station has undergone some changes in recent years, most notably the introduction of the Underground Ticketing System in the 1980s which involved the erection of barriers and automatic ticket machines. The tiles in the station were replaced with replicas of the originals in the first decade of the C21.

St John's Wood Station was originally fitted out with a set of tiles designed by Harold Stabler. Stabler was a member of the Design and Industries Association, with Charles Holden and Frank Pick, and it was through this connection that he won the commission to design tiles for Underground stations in 1936. The tiles were manufactured by Carter & Company, Poole. They were used at several stations built between 1936 and 1947 including Aldgate East and Bethnal Green and exhibited at the V&A's 'Exhibition of Tiles and Tilework Old and New' in 1939. The Stabler tiles featured in the wall of the platform and passages from the central concourse, below a ceramic frieze announcing the name of the station and including the Underground roundel. The frieze design was used at other stations on the Underground network including Swiss Cottage and those on the Central Line extension to Newbury Park.


St John's Wood Station is a single-storey structure at the corner of a much larger residential building, which is not of special interest.

EXTERIOR: St John's Wood Station is set back from the corner of Finchley Road and Acacia Road, with a forecourt garden bound by brick dwarf walls with concrete coping. The station is a steel-framed building faced with russet brown bricks on a plinth of polished black granite. It comprises a central cylindrical drum, with clerestory windows of thick glass between concrete mullions, and low flanking curved wings containing shops. A sweeping concrete lintel canopy supports an illuminated fascia displaying the station name, with pole-mounted roundel signs at each end. The original opaque circular light fittings in bronze frames on the canopy soffit survive. The shop fronts have bronze-framed windows. There are curved bronze-framed information signs to each side of the entrance, which retains its original glazed oak doors with bronze glazing bars.

INTERIOR: The ticket hall is lined with faience slabs, and a band of biscuit-coloured tiles edged in yellow and brown to the exposed concrete ring beam, with fair-faced brick above. Pale grey tiles framed the doorways and poster spaces, and also running along the skirting. The tiles are all replicas of the originals. The ticket hall has a suspended ceiling of cream painted boards in a frame of radiating metal T-sections. From this hand the original spherical opal pendant lamps above the main ticket hall, with opaque circular lights in the lower ceilinged area near the ticket booths. The ticket booth surrounds and counters are brass and include brass microphone fittings with the words 'Speak Here' incised and painted in red; they were added in the 1980s. The ticket hall clock survives.

Two escalators, and a central flight of steps, link the ticket hall and the platforms. At the top, these are lit by a large curved window with concrete mullions in what is the rear wall of the circular drum. In the escalator shaft lighting is provided by bronze uplighters, which comprise a square base, circular widening fluted stem, and a semi-circular bowl-shaped shade placed at an angle. There are 58 uplighters in total, arranged in pairs on the two balustrades between the escalators and the central steps. The first and last pair comprise an uplighter and an original bronze-framed Underground roundel sign, also on a fluted stem, reading 'To Trains' at the top of the down escalator and 'Way Out' at the bottom of the up escalator. The concourse at the bottom of the escalators retains additional opaque globe lamps.

PLATFORMS: At platform level, biscuit-coloured tiles line the walls. These contain the station name and a coloured roundel repeated in a continuous frieze along the platform. Below the frieze, the plain tiles are interspersed with low-relief decorative tiles designed by Harold Stabler. There are seventy-six tiles in eighteen different designs. The various designs are: depictions of famous London buildings (the Houses of Parliament, the Crystal Palace, St Paul's Cathedral and 55 Broadway); the Underground roundel; the Thames (five birds over a river); a portrait in profile of Thomas Lord, captioned with his name in capital letters; and ten heraldic emblems. The latter represent the London County Council (lion against a cross above a river) and the Home Counties, namely Surrey (coronet & oak), Middlesex (crown and three swords), Bedfordshire (eagle), Kent (horse), Sussex (martlets), Berkshire (five princesses), Buckinghamshire (swan), Hertfordshire (stag) and Essex (three swords). The Houses of Parliament design is particularly charming. Depicted alongside the famous Barry and Pugin building are a royal crown, a baronial coronet, and a bowler hat, presumably representing the constitutional makeup of the Palace of Westminster: Monarch, Lords and Commons.

Each platform also has nine large wall-mounted Underground roundel signs announcing the name of the station, complete with feathered directional arrows pointing to the 'Way Out' below and 'Jubilee Line' signs above. All are modern replicas of the originals. On each platform's far-side tunnel wall are small roundels, seventeen in total, again replicas. The platform clocks survive, with roman numerals enclosed in brass casing, and there is a bronze staff letterbox on the southbound platform. Both platforms have timber benches set back in recesses.

Source: English Heritage

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