Blackfriars Concepts and a Potential New Name


Network Rail have released a number of new concept images for Blackfriars station, where upgrade work is now heavily underway.

Network Rail claim that the work at Blackfriars is still on schedule, with the northern station concourse due to be completed later this year. This is a milestone that needs to be met, as the work needs to be completed before the track switch at Christmas can be carried out out. This will see the tracks moved into their final alignment on the eastern side of the bridge so that the new terminating bay platforms can be built on the western side. It is these works that will mean Blackfriars will close to passengers again for eight weeks from the 20th November until 17th January next year.

Elsewhere, London Lib Dems seem to have embarked on a campaign to rename the station once the Thameslink work has been completed, in order to recognise the fact that it will then span the Thames (and thus have entrances on both sides of the river).

Both Simon Hughes and Caroline Pidgeon have been vocal on the subject, suggesting “Blackfriars & Bankside” as a possible new name for the station. Network Rail have acknowledged that Mr Hughes has been in contact with them on the subject, but as (ex) Chief Executive Iain Croucher indicated in a response to this proposal earlier this month, a renaming should not be seen as a simple formality:

I am certainly sympathetic to the idea that we should do all we can to highlight the direct access to the attractions and businesses of the South Bank. However, as I am sure you will appreciate we must first gain a full understanding of the wider practical implications that this would have.

I have asked Rob Smith in our Communications team to look into this further and to examine the factors that we would need to take into consideration were we to consider a name change.

Indications are that Caroline Pidgeon has also raised this possibility with TfL. Although they have yet to make a statement on the matter, it seems likely that their response will follow the same line as above – an acknowledgement of the possibility but a general lowering of expectations that it might happen.

This would be inline with the attitude taken by the Mayor and TfL to the idea of renaming Archway in honour of Dick Whittington that gained some attention in the London press a while back. When asked about this idea in Mayor’s Question Time, the Mayor Responded:

I believe marking the area’s historical connection with Dick Whittington seems appropriate, however I would warn campaigners for a name change that the cost of doing so would be considerable. As well as changing signs along the line, there are the costs of changing maps and announcements. Given the pressures on Transport for London’s budget, it seems unlikely that the names of Tube stations can be changed in the near future.

For the record, the poser of the Archway question was, of course, Ms Pidgeon herself.

[NB: To add to JB’s comments, my own personal preference if the station is to be renamed is to call it “Blackfriars Bridge” since that is where it is. At the south end of the bridge stood the original Blackfriars Bridge station open from 1864 to 1885. The existing Blackfriars was named Saint Pauls until 1880. – MWB]

[NB: It appears that the Thameslink concept artists are less enamoured of Megan Fox than their TfL counterparts. She makes no appearance in these designs at all. – JB]

Written by John Bull
John Bull is the Editor of London Reconnections. A transport journalist and historian, his writing often focuses on the political or strategic challenges facing London's transport network and beyond.