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Russell Square Underground Station

A Grade II Listed Building in Bloomsbury, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.523 / 51°31'22"N

Longitude: -0.1243 / 0°7'27"W

OS Eastings: 530226

OS Northings: 182125

OS Grid: TQ302821

Mapcode National: GBR J8.76

Mapcode Global: VHGQS.SZNB

Entry Name: Russell Square Underground Station

Listing Date: 20 July 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1401730

Location: Camden, London, WC1N

County: London

District: Camden

Electoral Ward/Division: Bloomsbury

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Camden

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St George Queen Square

Church of England Diocese: London

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Summary

One of the most impressive surviving Leslie Green underground stations, including a largely intact faience facade retaining original tiled lettering.

Description

MATERIALS: Steel frame clad in brick, faced in ox-blood red faience produced by the Leeds Fireclay Co Ltd.

EXTERIOR: 2 storeys high. Symmetrical elevation comprising 4 main pilastered bays arranged 1-2-1 with alternating half-bays and terminating in a half-bays at either end. The entrance was originally in the left-hand paired bay and the exit (now blocked) in the westernmost bay; the ticket hall now occupies the entire ground floor. The two western bays have original gilded raised lettering denoting the station name; the blue tile Underground sign is a modern reproduction, as are the lanterns. The upper storey has timber Diocletian windows in keyed semi-circular arches with egg-and-dart decoration and cartouches between the springers of the paired bays, and modillion cornice. Each half bay has a deeply-hooded oeil-de-boeuf.

INTERIOR: Ticket hall remodelled in the 1990s and retains no visible original features. A small area of original green tiling remains in the straight stair down to the spiral stair. Original tiling in turquoise, black and cream survives in the spiral stair and in lower passageways, including directional signage. Platform tiling was replicated in 2009, apart from the soffit banding.

History

Russell Square Station was originally part of the Great Northern Piccadilly & Brompton Railway (GNP&BR), one of three tube lines opened 1906-7 by the Underground Electric Railways Co of London Ltd (UERL). The City & South London Railway - the world's first deep tube line - had opened in 1890 from the City to Stockwell, and although a flurry of proposals for further routes ensued, further progress was hampered by lack of capital until the Central London Railway (later the Central Line) opened in 1900. From 1901-02 the American transport entrepreneur, Charles Tyson Yerkes, acquired four dormant companies: the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway; the Brompton & Piccadilly Circus Railway and the Great Northern & Strand Railway, which were merged as the GNP&BR, and the Baker Street & Waterloo Railway; the three were incorporated into the UERL in 1902. Yerkes died in 1905 before the tube lines were completed. The GNP&BR, or 'Piccadilly Railway' or 'Tube', opened on 15 December 1906, running from the Great Northern & City Line terminus at Finsbury Park to the District Railway station at Hammersmith, with 16 intermediate stations, increased to 19 in 1907, when a spur to Strand (Aldwych) was also added. In 1910 the three combined UERL tubes were formally merged as the London Electric Railway (LER) and the GNP&BR became the Piccadilly Line.

Leslie Green (1875-1908) was appointed Architect to the UERL in 1903 and designed 40 stations for the company in a distinctive Edwardian Baroque house style (a small number of stations, such as Regent's Park, had no surface building). The stations were two storeys high, of steel-frame construction clad in brick and faced in ox-blood red faience produced by the Leeds Fireclay Co Ltd, with flat roofs to enable commercial development above. The elevations varied in their detailed treatment, but typically comprised a series of large arcaded bays, frequently incorporating shop units, with Diocletian windows to the upper storey, surmounted by a modillion cornice. Interiors followed a standardised plan adapted to the particular site, comprising a ground-floor ticket hall with lifts and a spiral stair down to corridors, and further stairs down to the platforms, which were usually parallel. The upper storey housed lift machinery. Ticket halls featured deep-green tiling with a stylised acanthus leaf or pomegranate frieze, and ticket windows in aedicular surrounds. Stairs, corridors and platforms were faced in glazed tiles with directional signage, produced by various tile manufacturers, each station with its unique colour scheme. Green suffered ill health and his contract with UERL terminated at the end of 1907. He died the following year at the age of 33.

Reasons for Listing

Russell Square Underground Station is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: a good example of a station designed by Leslie Green to serve the GNP & BR, later the Piccadilly Line, retaining original tiled lettering
* Interior: while altered, features of interest survive at lower levels including tiling and directional signage
* Historic interest: the Yerkes group of stations designed by Leslie Green illustrate a remarkable phase in the development of the capital's transport system, with the pioneering use of a strong and consistent corporate image; the characteristic ox-blood faience fa├žades are instantly recognisable and count among the most iconic of London building types
* Group value: with listed buildings in Bernard Street, including the Hotel Russell (Grade II*)

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