Site Records

Site Name: Bishopsgate Goods Station (Goodsyard)

Shoreditch High Street
London, E1
OS Grid Ref: TQ335822

Sub Brit site visits 1967, 1969, February 1982 & September 1995

[Source: Nick Catford]

In 2000 Teamworks Karting, who run a network of indoor Karting arenas were looking for a new site in London. Bishopsgate was suggested and a survey by consultants Ove Arup concluded that the old goods station could support a building of up to nine storeys without the need for underpinning or piled foundations. Teamworks Karting planned to utilise a second hand air dome and as this would require no foundations at all Bishopsgate appeared to be the perfect location for the structure.

The company gained possession in October 2000 and work began immediately on the construction of the kart track with associated meeting and catering facilities and a leisure and conference arena. The dome was located on the upper rail level at the western end and necessitated the demolition of the remaining platforms which had remained derelict for 37 years and the removal by eviction order of the car breaker who had set up in business without planning permission. The new arena was opened in 2001 but it was to be short lived

Photo:Aerial photograph after the platforms had been demolished The yellow arrows indicate the apertures for the three wagon hoists.

Photo:Similar view of the site after the karting arena was built in 2001

English Heritage reviewed their earlier decision calling for the listing of the Braithwaite Viaduct and the retention of the entire structure; they stated that the whole site was considered to be particularly important as the last major remains of a two-level goods station. The Braithwaite Viaduct was listed Grade II by the Department of Culture Media and Sport in March 2002. Tessa Jowell, who made the announcement, said: "Apart from the Braithwaite Viaduct, I am satisfied that all the other buildings and structures at Bishopsgate Goodsyard do not meet the criteria of special architectural or historical interest"

On the 23rd April 2002, 'Delivering the good' a report on the viaduct, commissioned by English Heritage was published.

The report suggested how the entire structure could be developed into an important focus for the local and wider community.

Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage said, "Bishopsgate Goodsyard is one of London's forgotten treasures. To reduce it to a pile of rubble with no clear idea of what will replace it would be tragic, generating years of uncertainty and blight.

We commissioned this report because the arguments for retaining and regenerating the Goodsyard are persuasive. It is a key landmark for this vibrant area on the fringes of the City of London. The engineering report confirms that the East London Line extension and a new Shoreditch station can be built over the existing structure. The successful small businesses, which have gathered here over the years, have demonstrated that this slumbering giant has already begun to awaken."

Key recommendations of the report were:

  • The retention of the existing Goodsyard structure and the variety of commercial activities and uses it contains
  • Construction of the East London Line and Shoreditch Station on top of the existing Goodsyard
  • The creation of sensitive mixed use development above the Goodsyard which reflects the scale and diversity of the surrounding area
  • The creation of a 'park in the sky' and a pedestrian/ cycle path to surrounding green spaces
  • New links to be opened up with the surrounding areas of Brick Lane, Shoreditch, the City and the Boundary Estate

The recommendations in the report were not adopted and the small businesses and occupiers of the goods station were issued with notices to quit on 9th May 2002. The karting arena closed the following month after opening the previous year.

In a last minute attempt to stop the demolition of the unlisted parts of the station a judicial review was brought against London Underground by the London Railway Heritage Society. While this was being heard an injunction was imposed to stop the start of demolition.

Photo:With all legal challenges removed, work finally starts on the East London Line extension
Photo by Nick Catford

On the 7 July 2003 the Court of Appeal finally resolved legal challenges that had been raised against the intended demolition of the non-listed parts of Bishopsgate Goods Station. The Court found in favour of the developers on all counts. The injunction preventing commencement of the demolition of the non-listed viaduct was lifted.

Demolition began on 14 July 2003 to make way for the future Shoreditch High Street station. English Heritage confirmed that they are satisfied that the method of demolition will not threaten the listed Braithwaite Viaduct. The new line will ramp up to a high level east of Brick Lane and will run north of the listed Braithwaite structure will not affect it in any way.

Photo:Demolition of the upper rail level in an advanced state
Photo by Phil Gyford

Much of the former Bishopsgate Goods station area has now gone and the Norfolk public house has been demolished. A new bridge is to be built over Shoreditch High Street and the existing Shoreditch station will be replaced by a new one on the north side of the former goods station site.

On completion the infrastructure of the East London railway line will be transferred to Network Rail and metro-style National Rail trains will be operated. The new line will bring trains through Hackney via Haggerston and Dalston Junction to Highbury and Islington. South of the river the former East London line services will be extended to West Croydon and Clapham Junction. There is also a scheme to run trains eastwards from Dalston Junction to Stratford using the North London Railway route. This would be a valuable asset if the proposed Olympic Games are held at Hackney Wick in 2012. Another extension may allow trains to run westwards as far as Willesden Junction


For Bishopsgate Low Level Station click here
For a Subterranea Britannica feature on hydraulic power in London click here

Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society

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[Source: Nick Catford]

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