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Report - Highgate Station, London - April 2016

Discussion in 'Other Sites' started by WildBoyz, May 14, 2016.

  1. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    History

    Highgate Station was constructed in 1867, by the Edgware, Highgate and London Railway, in a deep cutting that was excavated from Highgate Hill. The two tunnels penetrating the hillside from either side of the station were built some years before the station itself. Highgate Station was designed so that it had two side platforms and three tracks between them. A station building was constructed to the south end of the platform, along with a covered footbridge which connected the two platforms. The entire station was rebuilt in the 1880s, and a new central platform with two tracks flanking either side was constructed. The island could be accessed via a ticket office located in the middle of the footbridge.

    The station was altered again in 1935, as part of the ‘Northern Heights’ project that sought to incorporate the Edgware, High Barnet and Alexandra Palace lines into the London Transport Network. The first stage of the project involved the construction of tube tunnels underneath Highgate Station. To provide an interchange between the new deep-level platforms and the existing surface platforms, a subterranean pedestrian network was built immediately beneath Highgate Station. Stairs and escalators were installed to connect the existing platforms with the new underground ones, and street entrances to the concourse were built on Archway Road and Priory Gardens. As the pedestrian footbridge was no longer required, it was demolished along with some parts of the original buildings. The remaining sections of the older buildings were redeveloped, together with the surface platforms themselves which received some minor alterations.

    Following World War Two, plans to improve Highgate Station were never fully completed. As other sections of London’s Railways required urgent maintenance, and were deemed more important as they were more central to the heart of the city, Highgate became less of a priority. Despite being labelled as ‘under construction’ for years on various maps, by the early 1950s passenger services at Highgate’s surface Station ceased, but freight traffic continued to pass through the station until 1964. After freight traffic ceased to operate on this section of the line, it was used only for occasional London Underground rolling stock transfers between Highgate Depot and the Northern City line; however, since it was never electrified the stock had to be pulled over the lines using battery-powered locomotives. All activity ceased on Highgate’s surface lines by 1970, due to the poor structural integrity of some of the nearby bridges.

    Presently, one of the original 1867 buildings still stands; this is rumoured to be used as a residential building. As for the station itself, a number of the older buildings were demolished, leaving only the 1940s structures standing. Plastic sheeting was used to cover the old track bed after the rails were removed, to prevent water from seeping into the northern lines concourse which lies below. Much of the old route between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace is now part of the Parkland Walk; however, this bypasses the station for health and safety reasons.

    Our Version of Events

    Getting into London by car wasn’t quite as bad as we’d imagined, but finding a spot to park was an absolute nightmare. As we toured the city for a bit, looking for somewhere to stop the car, we noticed that people seem to squeeze into any spot available; there were mere centimetres between some of them! Finally, after much searching, we found a space (thankfully) that wasn’t too far from Highgate Station. Judging by some of the cars that were parked near us, and the moss growing on their rooves, a few of them seem to have been there for a long time. Having witnessed this, we think we now understand, a bit more clearly, why there’s such a parking problem in London.

    Since we’d heard the station was situated in a hillside and surrounded by trees, we imagined finding it would be a bit of a challenge. As it turned out, however, we were wrong – it’s very visible. Gaining access wasn’t difficult either, which we were also surprised about given that there’s a busy station next door; we had gauged that it might be difficult to slip onto the old premises without being seen with such a high volume of people around. Once again we were mistaken in our assumption, as no one seemed to give a shit that we looked slightly suspicious milling around an abandoned site with tripods and cameras, meaning we were able to wander into the station very easily. Once onsite, even though people could probably see us quite clearly from the live station and a public footpath which runs alongside the platform, no one glanced our way; instead, everyone seemed more intent on rushing to wherever it was they were going.

    After a quick wander around the site it was obvious that there isn’t much there, and all of the tunnel portals are sealed, together with the additional doorway we found down the staircase on the main platform. The station itself was less impressive than it looked from old pictures we’d found of it, but it felt very odd, in a good way, being in part of the City of London that certainly didn’t feel like a city at all. Inside the small gully it was peaceful and we encountered trees and foxes – three things we never thought we’d find in the capital. The next fifteen minutes were spent taking in the quiet atmosphere and a few photographs, before we decided to head off to the next explore we had lined up. Overall, then, the site is perfect is you’re passing through the area, especially if you fancy a break from the hustle and bustle, but it’s probably not worth travelling from further afield to visit it.

    Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do and Husky.

    Looking west at Highgate Station in 1868, when it first opened.

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    Highgate Station in the 1880s, looking west, when the two side platforms were replaced.


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    The station in the early 1940s. The old 1800s toilet block was retained and incorporated into the overall design at this point.


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    Lil'Legs, mrwhite, wilko and 8 others like this.

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  2. Els

    Els Obsessed with BS7671
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    Noice. Years back, around the late 80's, me and few mates visited this place and spotted a couple having a shag in the bushes. One of my mates took a few pics (not of the shagging couple) who I have long since lost contact with. Shame as it would be interesting to see them.
     
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  3. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    Haha, well it is a quiet spot down there. It would be really interesting to see what this place looked like back then. Were the portals open at that point?
     
  4. Els

    Els Obsessed with BS7671
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    Yup, you could walk right through. We walked up from Kings Cross starting at Lily Bridge (I think) near the old goods yard, through the two dis-used tunnels towards Finsbury Park, on a Sunday afternoon. I had a mate who lived in a house that backed onto a dis-used rail area, appartley where they dumped all the spoil from digging the tunnels. Seems daft now walking along a main line in broad daylight but back in those day's no one really gave much of a shit. Some of the drivers even waved at us.

    NB, this is not something I would recommend these days, walking along live rails, k, kids.
     
    #4 Els, May 14, 2016
    Last edited: May 14, 2016
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  5. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    Sounds like that was quite a nice walk back then. Shame they've sealed them up and people's attitudes to this sort of stuff has changed.
     
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  6. Els

    Els Obsessed with BS7671
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    Lily bride should be belle isle.
     
  7. wilko

    wilko 28DL Full Member
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    Nice to see this site again.
     
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  8. Dizzydisco

    Dizzydisco 28DL Full Member
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    In one of the pics there a air con unit on wall bit random for a disused site??
     
  9. mrwhite

    mrwhite 28DL Regular User
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    looks like its maintained as it was overgrown a few months back
     
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  10. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    An air-con unit?
     
  11. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    Perhaps they just had a bit of a spring clean around there. I thought some of the plants looked freshly cut to be honest.
     
  12. Dizzydisco

    Dizzydisco 28DL Full Member
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    If you look on pic 12 the building opposite the platform there's a newish looking air conditioning unit on the wall
     
  13. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    Ah, I see. I was under the impression that building was part of the station, but if that air-con unit is newer then perhaps it was used up until more recently.
     
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