City Road was opened on 17th November 1901 when the City & South London Railway extended their service from Moorgate Street to Angel. The entrance was on City Road at its junction with Moorland Street and the main passenger access to the platforms 65 feet below was by two lifts mounted within a single shaft. At track level there were two platforms accessed from the lower lift landing, these were linked by five cross passages; there was also a signal box.
The station was designed by T Phillips Figgis (who also designed Angel) and was constructed of brick which was left exposed with only slight decorative features included. The building had two elevations at an obtuse angle, that facing City Road containing the entrance and that in Moreland Street the exit. Above each bay was a low arch summounted by a broad rectangular window, with three classical columns in front. At platform level the walls were clad with white tiling with some coloured banding as relief.
City Road was located in a run down area and due to its close proximity to stations at Old Street and Angel it never attracted many passengers. By 1908 closure had already been suggested but the station remained open. On 1st January 1913, the C&SLR became part of the Underground Group of railways and in c.1919 powers granted to the C&SLR in 1913 to enlarge the diameter of the tunnels to that of the more recently opened underground lines were renewed by Parliament. Work started on 9th August 1922 and the line between Moorgate Street and Angel was temporarily closed during the reconstruction. The line reopened on 20th April 1924 but the low number of passengers using City Road meant that the extension of the platform tunnels could not be justified on financial grounds and the station remained closed. The platforms were subsequently removed and the lift shaft was converted for use as a ventilation shaft with a new ventilation stack being added to the top of the building. City Road was the only twin tunnel station on the C&SLR not to be reconstructed.
On 26th August 1916 one passenger was killed when a train at City Road was started by the guard before all the passengers had alighted.
Like a number of closed underground stations, City Road was earmarked for conversion into a two level air raid shelter for 499 people during WW2 but by the time work started on building a six foot high brick wall to screen the shelters from the passing trains the worst of the Blitz was over. The shelter was nearing completion by the end of 1941 with a new stairway in the old lift shaft and toilet cubicles in the passage from the lower lift landing to the southbound platform. There was a canteen at the north end of the southbound platform area and a first aid post on the northbound platform; the shelter finally came into use in 1942. After the war all evidence of the shelter was quickly removed.
The street level building remained intact until c.1970 when it was largely demolished leaving a small part of the southern end of the building incorporating the ventilation tower. Access to the station is maintained as a means of emergency egress.
TOUR OF CITY ROAD
Once inside the surface building we followed a narrow curving passage to the upper lift landing where a new spiral staircase in the old lift shaft descends by 155 steps to the station below. From the bottom landing grimy tiled subways now devoid of posters and signage lead to the north and southbound platforms where the tiled walls can still be seen by observant passengers in passing trains.
The original steps down to the two platforms are still in place but as the platforms have been removed new metal steps have been added down to track level to allow passengers to be detrained in an emergency. The platform area is now used as a permanent way maintenance store; it was interesting to note graffiti on the tiled wall of the northbound platform. It seems likely that the graffiti artists managed to penetrate that far into the underground system on one of their Christmas Day jaunts from Highgate so it’s more likely that this is the work of a bored maintenance worker.
- London Transport Museum (1915 photograph)
- Abandoned Stations on London’s Underground by J E Connor - Pub. Connor & Butler 2008 ISBN 978 0 947699 41 4
- Rails through the Clay by Alan A Jackson & Desmond F Croome - Pub. George Allen & Unwin 1962
- Notes by David Leboff for visit to City Road in September 2001 as part of London Open House