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Report - Highgate Station, London (October 2016)

Freddie Valentine

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#1
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, the walk bypasses the station for health and safety reasons.

EXPLORE

I was hungover, bored and wanted to get out of the flat for a while. So I took a train on over to Highgate. Access was fairly straightforward. I had an undisturbed wander around the site, which felt very peaceful and tranquil. I had a beer and a smoke, took a few shots and then went on my merry way.

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