Site Records

Site Name: Wood Lane Station (Central Line)

Wood Lane (Junction with Ariel Way)
London, W12
OS Grid Ref: TQ234804

Sub Brit site visit April 1968, February 1980 & February 1986

[Source: Nick Catford]

The Central London Railway was incorporated in 1891 as a line between Shepherd's Bush and Cornhill, but a further Act in 1892 authorised an alternative terminus at Bank with a later extension to Liverpool Street. The time for completion had to be extended twice, first to 1894 but with work not starting until April 1896 this was further extended to 1899.

Due to ongoing negotiations with the Great Eastern about the siting of the Liverpool Street terminus, work on the twin track tunnels was concentrated between Shepherds Bush and Bank. At Shepherds Bush, the eastbound track continued for a short distance to a reversing siding while the westbound track came to the surface on a steeply graded curving track to reach the
company's new depot, repair shops and power station on a 20 acre site at Wood Lane. The depot was also served by a single track spur from the West London Railway which was used to bring coal to the power station.

The line was formally opened by the Prince of Wales with a ceremony at Bank Station on 27th June 1900, a month before public traffic began to use the railway on 30th July.

Shepherds Bush station shortly after opening (postcard)
All the stations were provided with two platforms, 325 feet in length, reached by electric lifts from the distinctive station buildings designed by the architect Harry Bell Measures; many of which survive. The railway was initially operated by 28 electric locomotives built by GEC in America. They were imported in kit form and assembled at the Wood Lane works. The passenger stock comprised bogie coaches with two guards and manned gated platforms at each end for passengers to join and alight.

The line was quickly nicknamed 'The Twopenny Tube' as the company initially charged a flat fare of 2d between any two stations whatever the distance. From the first of July 1907 this was increased to 3p for passengers travelling eight stations or more with 1d fares being introduced in 1909 for short distances.

In 1905 the French Chamber of Commerce proposed holding a Franco-British Exhibition in London to promote the industrial achievements of both countries. It was to be a very opulent affair housed in a spectacular setting, built on 140 acres of former farm land on the west side of Wood Lane.

The plan got the Royal seal of approval and work started in January 1907 with contractors working round the clock to complete the exhibition site within a year. The majority of exhibition buildings were constructed on an impressive scale and set amongst specially laid-out gardens and waterways. Most of the buildings featured highly ornamented plastered exteriors which were weather-proofed with white paint and the site quickly became known
locally as the ‘White City’. The exhibition area also included a large stadium to accommodate 150,000 spectators and was built to host the 1908 Olympic Games.

The closest existing stations were Shepherds Bush on the Central London Railway and the adjacent Uxbridge Road on the West London Line. Both stations fronted onto Uxbridge Road and were nearly half a mile away from the exhibition site by road. To overcome this an exhibition entrance was built between the two stations from where a raised arcaded walkway incorporating exhibition halls was built 30' above railway owned land linking the two stations with the exhibition site. (Much of this walkway still survived until recent years until it swept away during the construction of the

The entrance to the arcaded walkway in 1999, shortly before demolition. Photo by Nicholas Royle
Westfield shopping development.)

It was soon clear that the walkway would not be adequate and in July 1907 the Central London Railway received parliamentary consent to extend northwards from its Shepherds Bush terminus to a new station at Wood Lane. The station was to be sited on a single-track loop in the northwest corner of their depot.

Photo:Wood Lane Station in July 1935 with Platform 1 (for alighting passengers) in the foreground and Platform 2 on the other side of the track.

Westbound trains would continue north from Shepherds Bush using the steeply inclined depot line, coming to the surface alongside the depot. A loop-line was built through the new station and back into a tunnel for the return journey to Shepherds Bush.

Progress on the new station was slow as the Board of Trade were unhappy with some aspects for the submitted plans due to the high volume of passenger traffic expected. One of the concerns was the lack of shelter but the CLR pointed out that the existing raised walkway would pass over the station providing adequate shelter in bad weather. After satisfying the
Board of Trade on all points, construction moved ahead rapidly and the new station was ready for inspection on 9th May 1908 opening to the public on 14th May to coincide with the opening of the Franco-British exhibition by the Prince of Wales. 123,000 visitors passed through the turnstiles on the first day, many of them travelling by train.

Although the station was only on a single-track loop, it was provided with two platforms, No 1 on the inside of the curve for alighting passengers and No. 2 for boarding passengers. The station entrance was on the east side of Wood Lane with passengers entering the station at the north end of the building and leaving at the south end.

Wood Lane booking office in 1927
The station was provided with a large concourse from where a staircase took passengers up to the raised walkway which was carried on a bridge over Wood Lane and into the exhibition. At the back of the concourse there was a porter’s room. The booking office was in a direct line with the entrance and was equipped with eight ticket windows. Of these, two were at the front, and the remainder were in groups of three positioned either side. To left and right of this were a pair slopes towards the ticket barriers
.............................................................................which also gave access to the station toilets.

Photo:The overgrown platforms in July 1965. The ironwork that supported the arcaded walkway was still in place at this date but it was demolished a few years later.
Photo by Ted Burgess

The Station Master’s office was situated between the two barriers and adjoined the east end of the ladies’ room. From the south-western end of No. 1 platform, a flight of stairs led onto a covered footbridge over the line and towards the station exit. This could also be accessed from the other platform by means of steps and a slope. A ticket office for the exhibition was also
provided alongside the stairs to the raised walkway.

For further information and pictures of Wood Lane Station click here

[Source: Nick Catford]

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