Sub title

Charing Cross railway station

Pillory at Charing Cross, London © RIBA Library Photographs Collection 1908

Pillory at Charing Cross, London © RIBA Library Photographs Collection 1908


Charing Cross station has now passed its150th anniversary. Through the Periodicals Collections of the RIBA, we celebrate with look at the history of a microcosm of London…

The original station building, comissioned by the South Eastern Railway and opened on 11 January 1864, was designed by architect Sir John Hawkshaw. When the first train arrived for service – on time – at the platforms of thestation [1], it must have seemed that the metropolis was being inundated by railways. This was a year after the first underground line began operating, Kings Cross station had opened only two years earlier and Euston station was by then almost seven years old.

quote: “one of the most remarkable works in London”

Opening of the Charing-cross railway. Building News, 1863 December 4th, p.913

This riverside site was originally occupied by Hungerford Market and working-class housing [2] and connected to the opposite bank of the Thames by Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s suspension bridge, all demolished to make way for the station and Hungerford Bridge.

 Hungerford Bridge, London, 1930s © RIBA Library Photographs CollectionDesigns for Hungerford Market, Charing Cross, London © RIBA Library Drawings & Archives Collections 1832Charing Cross Hotel and Eleanor Cross, Strand, London, 1872 © RIBA Library Photographs Collection

The appearance of the station soon altered with completion of the Charing Cross Hotel and Eleanor Cross in 1865 [3]. The 20th century brought more changes. The station played a vital role in the war effort during World War I by moving troops and supplies, and suffered considerable bomb damage during World War II [4].

In 1990,  Terry Farrell  was the architect behind Embankment Place, a   post-modern   office block and shopping complex. Situated behind the hotel and above the station, the 18 pillars visible on the station platforms support the nine storeys it consists of [5].

1. Opening of the Charing-cross railway. Building News, 1864 January 15th, p.43   
2. Charing-Cross Railway. Building News. 1862 November 14th, p.380 
3. Restoration of Charing Cross. Building News, 1864 February 12th Jackson, A. A., 1985  
4. London’s Termini, 2nd ed. Newton Abbott: David Charles, pp.243-66

Browser does not support script.