The Waterloo Link


Several commentors on the recent station aerial pictures post were interested in knowing a bit more about the single track link that used to exist between Waterloo and the line out of Charing Cross, which both Greg Tingey and Timbeau highlighted as existing previous to Waterloo’s later rebuilds.

The link was constructed in 1864 though was never heavily used. At that time it carried a short-lived Cannon Street – Kensington (Addison Road) service, and then was later used for a Willesden Junction – Waterloo service run by the LNWR. It was never highly trafficked, however, and eventually saw little more than use for the occasional rolling stock move. Very occasionally it also saw royal traffic (it was used by trains taking Queen Victoria from the Channel ports to Windsor).

It can be tricky to visualise the link now, for as Timbeau points out:

You must bear in mind that the main station was completely rebuilt in stages from south to north between 1900 and 1922, and the spur disappeared in 1911 as part of this process.

The link was an extension of a siding located between what were then platforms 2 and 3 (roughly where platform 10 is now) and extended across the concourse and station frontage and across the cab road to the now disused bridge across Waterloo Road – this bridge was used for pedestrian access to Waterloo East until the present high level span was built in c 1990.

Old Platforms 2 and 3 were much longer than the rest, extending deep into the concourse (in the way two platforms at Liverpool Street did until recently) and, even without the spur, they effectively cut off platform 1, and the separate South station built in 1878, from the rest of the complex. (The south station closed in 1909, and the present platforms 4 and 5 now occupy the site.)

Greg Tingey was kind enough to pass on several scans of images he was able to find which give a bit of an idea of how it would have looked, for those interested. The photo comes from Charles’ Klapper’s London’s Lost Railways which is sadly no longer in print, whilst the track diagrams are from O. S. Nock’s book on the LSWR.

Interestingly, if you look closely at the track diagrams you’ll spot the mark of Alfred W. Szlumper, the LSWR’s chief engineer at the time and the man responsible for the Waterloo rebuild. The Szlumper’s were very much a railway family – his brother worked extensively as a railway engineer in Wales (including as engineer for Aberyswyth to Devil’s Bridge) and his son Gilbert would later be General Manager of Southern.

Thanks to Greg Tingey for hunting down the appropriate images

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.