ELLX Phase Two – Clapham Junction’s Platforms 1 and 2
Further to JB’s report on the ELLX Phase Two extension from Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction, let’s go for a photographic guided tour of the end of the line at Clapham Junction where passengers will be able to change between the East and West London Lines of London Overground.
With Battersea Power Station and the massive gas holder that loomed over Battersea Park station in the background, this 1947 view of the city end of Clapham Junction clearly shows from left to right the sets of lines that run through Clapham Junction
– The double tracks of the West London Line coming up from Latchmere and Longhedge Junction running into platforms 1 and 2.
– The three tracks of the LSWR’s Windsor Lines from Waterloo running through platforms 3,4,5 and 6
– Carriage siding head shunts for the Clapham yard lying between the Windsor and LSWR main lines
– Four tracks from Waterloo forming the main line to Wimbledon and the South West
– Four tracks for Victoria forming the LB&SC’s mainline to Balham, Croydon and Brighton.
– Just behind the electric multiple unit seen on the right, the West London’s line connecting to the Brighton line emerges from crossing under all of these tracks past the Pig Hill sidings
In particular note the point ladder running diagonally from the Latchmere and Longhedge Lines on the left that connects with all of the L&SWR Windsor lines and terminates at the entrance to Clapham Yard and Park Sidings.
The West London line connection from Latchmere and Longhedge junction into platform 1 and 2 was later singled and the track lifted from platform 1, which was built on an extension to the embankment that the rest of the station is built of. This was known as the Banana Arches. The track bed in platform 1 was subsequently used as a signalling and point work communications channel. The difficulty of moving this equipment together with the poor condition of the Banana Arches is the reason behind the decision to redevelop the existing platform 2 to cope with both WLL and ELL trains.
This picture shows a 313 unit approaching Clapham Junction over the single track chord and one of the signalling relay boxes on the left.
In preparation for the arrival of the ELL which will run from Longhedge Junction under the all the mainline tracks, this link has now been recently redoubled from Latchmere Junction.
Our friend, Flierfy provides the next three pictures, to whom our thanks and copyright acknowledgements
The first shows the aggressively steep and narrow staircase down to the subway, complete with handily placed discarded Red Bull can, (no doubt left by some thoughtful passenger to enable those of us, who count in cans, to judge the scale of the stairs). The staircase emerges next to the ticket office on the Northern side of the Station where there is a local bus interchange. Until recently these steps presented a significant challenge to the elderly and disabled.
The next picture shows the platform from the other direction revealing the elegant canopy and the jarring steel fence at the edge of Platform 1. It would be nice if this fence could be replaced by something similar to the staircase railings, more in keeping with the overall aesthetic when the platform is rebuilt, but alas Boris; aesthetes are not made of money and Network Rail’s philistines will probably not care.
Hopping over the fence Dave shows the overgrown condition of the track bed in Platform 1. All of that moisture retaining vegetation has not doubt contributed to the decay of the metal trough forming the Banana Arches.
The next picture shows the S&T boxes occupying the former track bed. Relocation would be difficult and hence expensive.
As the diagram above (helpfully proved by George) helps illustrate, the plan for Clapham Junction is to build out over the western end of the track in platform 1 to form a new platform face next to the middle track in this picture. This was the Middle siding and formed part of the head shunt for the Kensington sidings to the west of the station shown in Dave’s next picture.
Clapham Yard carriage sidings can be seen on the far left of this picture with the four tracks of the LSWR line to Putney and Windsor running through the centre of the shot. There have been proposals by local MP’s for the ELL trains to be extended over the Windsor Lines and thence to Wimbledon via East Putney. This would require the replacement of a previously demolished flyover at Point Pleasant Junction just beyond Wandsworth Town and an increase in the signalling and point work complexity to enable down ELL trains to cross over the Windsor lines.
To the right lay the Kensington Sidings which in days of yore provided a playground for the many types of tank engine used on empty carriage duties in an out of Waterloo. Here they shunted with much clanking and tooting and biffing, the Southern Railway’s signature braked parcels vans known, to those of us riddled with acne at the time, as GUV’s.
These sidings could come into life again as a valuable stabling resource for London Overground. In the event of perturbation on both the ELL and WLL, the sidings allow trains to temporarily be stabled and re-sequenced. This will avoid them being blocked at signals on what will be very busy routes through South and West London.
Stannah have recently supplied lifts from all of the platforms at Clapham Junction to the footbridge (surely one of the best places in London to watch trains go by) at the western end of the station which, together with the new entrance, make the station accessible those who are disabled, pilot baby buggies or, perchance, carry Mwmbwlian levels of avoirdupois. There is a neat example of their handiwork beyond the footbridge steps on Platforms 1 & 2
The new entrance on Saint John’s Hill restores an access route that had not been used for over half a century, The project, was funded by Network Rail, Department for Transport, South West Trains, Wandsworth council and Transport for London, includes new ticketing facilities, travel information screens and passenger toilets in a fully refurbished ticket hall, together with new shops. Outside the building a taxi and car pick-up and drop-off point is being created and cycle racks for up to 72 bikes are being installed.
The new entrance provides a step-free route into the station, making it fully accessible to those with reduced mobility. This marks the completion of the £10.5million “Access For All” scheme at the station, which has also seen nine lifts installed between the over bridge and all platforms.
The new entrance will also provide an alternative way into the station for those coming from St John’s Hill, helping to reduce congestion significantly in the subway and main entrance – although as the above picture shows it is at this stage lightly used even at peak times as yet. (Of course, having written this, I realise that by drawing attention to the ease of use of the new kiss and ride drop off point might be self-defeating if too many follow the author’s example and use it.)
Having praised access on the south side, I wish I could say the same for the north side of the station. Unfortunately the lifts only run from the platform to the over bridge and not down to ground level. The gradients from the subway can be described as fearsome. Disabled passengers entering from the north entrance on Grant Road face a trundle to the south side of the station in order to access the footbridge via the Saint John’s Hill entrance and then have to navigate back to the north side, having to sometimes weather the tides of humanity in the subway and on the bridge.
It seems a pity that the lads from Stannah were not asked to tag an extra lift to access the western end of the Grant Road.
The next three pictures show the construction of the Banana Arches. These are in very poor condition. Although not clearly evident in these pictures, there is significant corrosion in the downpipes and the track bed trough. There is also clear damage to the retaining wall, as water penetrating the walls through the corroded metal works expands when it freezes leaving voids in the mortar.
These are then exploited by Buddleia Davidii, “the Butterfly Bush”, which having escaped from domestic gardens is a great coloniser of dry open waste or old masonry. The odd wisp that can be seen in the pictures will soon grow into a dense thicket. Its roots penetrate the mortar and further allow water to penetrate the brickwork. Subsequent freezing and thawing prise the bricks apart, helping the Buddleia to penetrate further and a vicious circler arises…
Together with Japanese Knotweed, Buddleia is listed as an invasive species in many areas of London. It is frequently seen beside railways in London having gained a pandemic hold by growing on Second World War bomb sites. The end of steam ended the fire hazard to line side vegetation. British Rail was able to relax the need for length men to keep line-side vegetation under strict control. The regime of benign neglect that manifested itself in virtually perpetual maintenance holidays that British Rail was obliged to impose on its infrastructure have taken their toll. It will be surprising if a degree of remediation will be required before too long.
Castles in the Air
No doubt Clapham Junction (and its ELLX/WLL platforms) will change further in the future, so I annex, purely to mobilise the comments of our readers, some points to think on as to what future options might be:
– To extend the over the track space left by the old platform. By springing a cantilevered platform surface off of the existing platform it would be possible to avoid loading the dodgy Banana Arches. Although, they will undoubtedly need some attention. This arrangement would also mean that the S&T cabling could continue to occupy the trough
– To install the missing lift connecting the platform with the Grant Road Ticket Office
– To reinstate the Kensington Sidings as emergency stabling and turn round facilities. This would allow the system to enjoy some resilience so that in the event of an outbound delay to either the WLL or ELLX (SLL) inbound services could continue to run.
– If the extension of the WLL to Wimbledon ever took place a connection at the west end of the platform from the Windsor Up Slow line would enable all northbound WLL services to operate from the new platform, offer cross platform interchange with the ELLX (SLL). Apart that is for the Brighton line services from Croydon which operate via platforms 16 and 17
One of the good things about writing for London Reconnections is that it has such a rich editorial domain. There is always something worthwhile to write about. Our articles however always benefit from pictures and for that there is often an issue of being the right man or woman, in the right place at the right time with their camera held a-clicko. This article and many others would not have been possible without the help of the diverse group who contribute to Flickr. I am always overwhelmed by their kind responses to allow me to use their material. So to all our chums on Flickr (you know who you are) thank you.
My thanks also to the Clapham Junction Action group who keep a close eye on all developments at the station