Monday, 26 February 2018

London Stations in Postcards – Victoria

When this postcard was published, Victoria Station comprised two separate termini operated by different companies. The modest, low-rise building pictured here was built by the London Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) in 1860. To the left, out of the picture, was the station for the London, Chatham & Dover Railway (LC&DR). Looming over the station is the Grosvenor Hotel (1861) – a view that would be lost a few years later when a six-storey red brick and Portland stone building was planted on top. Designed by Charles Morgan, Chief Engineer to the LB&SCR, in typically bombastic Edwardian Baroque styling, it was completed in 1908. It survives to the present under the protection of a Grade II listing from Historic England.

The second postcard shows the singular glory of Victoria Station – the slender, lofty and elegant wrought iron train shed built in 1862. It flooded the platforms with much needed daylight at a time when locomotive smoke and steam would have filled the atmosphere. The extra height allowed for dispersion of some of the worst effects. Sir John Fowler, former chief engineer of the Metropolitan Railway was responsible for the design. Fowler was a remarkable and prolific engineer who would go on to design the Forth Railway Bridge (together with Benjamin Baker). The train is a Brighton express from 1908 behind an H1 Atlantic locomotive, one of 5 constructed in 1905-6.

In the third postcard we see the departure of the Brighton Pullman, storming under the signal gantry outside Victoria Station. This time the locomotive is an LB&SCR H2 Atlantic built in 1911 that later carried the name, North Foreland. The train most famously associated with Victoria Station was the London to Paris service, marketed as the Golden Arrow and the subject of the final card as seen in the era of British Railways.

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