CITY & SOUTH LONDON RAILWAY
Euston underground station was opened by the City & South London Railway on 12th May 1907 with the opening of their extension from Moorgate Street. Euston is not to be confused with Euston Square which opened in 1863 as Gower Street on the Metropolitan Railway. The entrance building, designed by Sidney Smith, was at the junction of Seymour Street (now Eversholt Street) and Doric Way from where lifts and stairs took passengers down to the west end of the narrow island platform within a large diameter station tunnel; identical to that at Angel. The street level building on Seymour Street was Moroccan in style faced in white tiles, topped with destination boards with mullioned windows set high in the walls. The building was demolished in 1934 and Euston House, the headquarters of the British Railways Board, now stands on the site.
CHARING CROSS & HAMPSTEAD RAILWAY
On 22 June 1907, the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway (CCE&HR, now the Charing Cross branch of the Northern Line) opened between Charing Cross, Archway (then called Highgate) and Golders Green.
Original plans for the route were for it to bypass Euston on a straight alignment to Camden Town. However, the wisdom of bypassing a busy railway station and the large number of customers that it would provide was soon questioned and the route was revised to serve the mainline station. The station building was constructed to the west of the mainline station with the characteristic red glazed terra cotta elevations typical of stations designed by Leslie Green for the CCE&HR.
Although built and initially operated as two separate stations by the two companies, the C&SLR and the CCE&HR platforms were sufficiently close together that a deep level interchange was constructed between platforms shortly after opening. A passage was built from near the C&SLR lifts to the east end of the CCE&HR platforms. Unusually this led up from the lifts as the C&SLR platforms were lower than those of the CCE&HR.
At the same time, another passageway was created, leading from the connecting passage to a new set of lifts (and emergency stairs) which surfaced within the mainline station itself. Though the companies continued to maintain their own separate entrances and lifts, it soon became clear that maintaining three entrances so close to each other was unnecessary. The station buildings were closed leaving the entrance within the mainline station to serve both routes.
A small underground interchange ticket office was provided in the new subway for the convenience of passengers changing between lines. In early days railway companies only sold tickets to stations on their own line so the ability to buy through tickets to another companies line was a new phenomenon that in time was to become common place.
The original exits continued to exist for ventilation reasons until the elaborate Moroccan design of the C&SLR building was demolished in 1934.
In 1913 the two lines came under joint ownership when the Underground Group who were already owners of the CCE&HR. Plans were made before World War I to extend both lines and provide additional connections at Camden Town and Kennington so that trains could run from either of the two northern termini via either branch to the southern terminus.
Works to modernise and enlarge the C&SLR tunnels which had been originally constructed to a smaller diameter than the CCE&HR closed the line between Moorgate and Euston from 8 August 1922 to 20 April 1924. The new link to Camden Town was opened with the rebuilt C&SLR tunnels. The extensions to Edgware in 1923⁄24 and to Morden in 1926 lead to the combined line adopting the name Morden-Edgware Line. This changed to the Northern Line in 1937.
To the east of Euston is a connecting tunnel from the northbound City branch to the northbound Piccadilly Line tunnel just south of King’s Cross St. Pancras. Via this connection, called the ‘King’s Cross Loop’, a train in the northbound Piccadilly Line platform at King’s Cross St. Pancras can run south and enter the northbound City branch platform at Euston.
Alternatively, via a junction, called the ‘Euston Loop’, between the old section of the northbound City branch and the southbound City branch, trains can enter the southbound platform.
This exchange between lines can be operated in both directions and was created when the C&SLR became part of the Underground group in 1913 to facilitate train stock transfers. At that time the C&SLR had no surface depot and train carriages were lowered into the subterranean depot at Stockwell by a large lift. At first the junctions concerned were controlled from a signal cabin sited over the headwall of platform 6 (southbound Northern line on the City branch); this cabin still exists, but is now operated remotely as an interlocking machine room from the Northern Line control centre at Cobourg Street though facilities remain for manual control of the signals. Presently the junctions are only used during train reversals and to facilitate the passage of engineering trains between the Northern and Piccadilly lines.
Use of the Kings Cross and Euston loops is considered a movement into and out of sidings according to the London Underground Working Reference Manual, and as such is done without passengers on board. However, until relatively recently, trains terminating northbound at Euston did carry passengers from Kings Cross to Euston via the loop line. Now, any such trains detrain passengers at Kings Cross and then proceed empty to Euston. This may also have been done to prevent passenger confusion, as the northbound terminating train would arrive in the southbound platform at Euston, having passed through the loop. The northbound and southbound platforms on the city branch are not adjacent at Euston, and so any passenger wishing to continue northbound would have to endure a lengthy walk to reach the northbound platform. When there is a scheduled service suspension north of Euston, trains do still proceed to Euston via the loop with passengers, since this is still a passenger signalled move. Once at Euston, they can change to other services.
In 1967, in line with the opening of the Victoria Line, and the construction of the new Euston main line railway station above, the station was substantially expanded and remodelled to cope with the increase in passenger numbers. The route of the Victoria Line was designed to provide the maximum number of connections to existing services and to relieve some of the pressure on those other lines by giving an alternative route through central London. As such, interchanges were designed to facilitate quick transfers between lines by the use of cross-platform interchanges where possible. At Euston the single island platform on the Northern Line City branch was suffering from dangerous congestion, so a new City branch northbound platform was constructed some way to the south and the old northbound track was removed to provide a wider southbound platform. Two new platforms for the Victoria Line were excavated between and parallel to the original and the new City branch tunnels to which they were directly linked. This arrangement results in a peculiar feature of the station: a passenger changing from the Victoria Line to Northern Line City branch or vice versa will find that trains on adjacent platforms travel in opposite directions.
A new ticket hall was constructed below the concourse of the mainline station with two new sets of escalators to replace the lifts. The escalators gave access to and from an intermediate circulation level which gives access to the Northern Line Charing Cross branch platforms and two further sets of escalators; one set each serving the northbound and southbound Victoria and Northern Line City branch platforms. Interchanges between the northbound and southbound Victoria and Northern City Line platforms are made via a passageway at the lower level so as to avoid the need to use the escalators. An emergency stair to the intermediate interchange level is located midway along it. On 1 December 1969 the whole new interchange system was opened and the old passages were closed off. Many of the old subways have been retained for ventilation.
TOUR OF DISUSED PARTS OF EUSTON STATION
To start our tour of the disused passenger subways and lift shafts at Euston we made our way to Platform 1 which is the northbound Northern Line platform for the Edgware line. At the end of the platform we went through a door and up a short flight of stairs to a short subway that brought us onto the lower lift landing for the Drummond Street entrance. This subway has been disused since 1st October 1914 and is very grimy and the tiled walls are now painted grey. Alongside the empty lift shafts which are now used for ventilation a third shaft was for the emergency stairs and although these have now been removed and the shaft capped at street level four steel columns that supported the steps still run up the centre of the shaft. There is a new emergency stairway in one of the old lift shafts but we made our way across a metal walkway over the lift well to reach the other side of the lift landing.
From there we went down a steep flight of steps which formed part of the ventilation route for the City Line and is now maintained as a staff walkway between the Charing Cross line platforms and the City line platforms. At the bottom of the stairs, we went through a trapdoor in the floor and down a ladder to reach the old northbound City Line which was taken out of service in 1969 when the line was rerouted along what is now known as the Euston Loop (see station layout plan). We were now at the junction of the abandoned alignment and the Euston Loop and we were able to see Edgware bound trains through a grille. From the junction we walked back along the old running tunnel which, unlike the earlier subway, is clean and well lit.
Half way along the tunnel we went through a door into a room that now houses the new signalling equipment for the northern line and then we were back in the old running tunnel again. Eventually we came out through a door onto Platform 6, the south bound platform of the City line. At the far end of the platform we passed through a door and down the ramp passing a stairway up to a signal cabin located above the east end of the old island platform; this closed in 1958. To our right we saw the sand drag at the end of a short section of track which is all that remains of the old north bound City line, a short section of platform edge from the island platform is also visible here.
Looking east along the track the south bound city line was to our left with the old north bound city line to the right, this has been retained to allow trains to reverse at Euston. The line leads to the Euston Loop from where there is access onto the Kings Cross loop which is used to transfer trains from the Northern Line onto the Piccadilly Line. A short distance along the abandoned northbound line we could see a disused siding which originally connected to the northbound line just south of a scissors crossover. The 7-car siding was used until 1967 to reverse terminating Euston trains but is now devoid of track although it still retains a hydraulic buffer stop.
We walked back a short distance along Platform 6 and through a door and up a steep and narrow flight of steps that brought us onto the lower lift landing from the original Eversholt Street entrance onto the City & South London line. This has been disused since 1st October 1914 but there are still some original posters on the wall from this time. The entrance into the two lift shafts is now bricked up but the narrow shaft for the emergency stairs is still open although all evidence of the stairs have been removed and the shaft is capped at street level. The subway is maintained for ventilation and we could look down onto Platform 6 through a large metal grille.
We descended the steps back onto platform 6 and at the opposite end of the platform we went through a metal grille door and up a flight of steps that brought us into a subway. This led to the lower lift landing from the Main Line station entrance that replaced Eversholt Street and Drummond Street entrances. This entrance in turn was closed in 1969 when the station was remodelled during the construction of the Victoria Line. There are many 1960’s posters remaining along the walls including one detailing the closure of this entrance and the reconstruction of the station. Close to the three lift shafts is the small underground ticket office that was provided for interchange between the C & SLR and the CCEHR, it was closed when the two lines came under joint ownership in 1914. Continuing along the subway, there is a flight of steps that led up to Platform 2 on the Charing Cross branch; these have now been bricked up at the top.
Returning back along the corridor to the lifts a further subway leads to another set of steps leading up to Platform 1, these have also been bricked up at the top. One of the lift shafts is still open with daylight visible at the top; the shaft opens onto Platform 2 of the Main Line station above. The other two shafts have been bricked up and utilised as equipment rooms. From the lift landing we entered a ventilation tunnel that took us over the Victoria Line and out through a metal grille into a cross passage at the base of the emergency stairs. We returned to the surface and made our way across Cardington Street to look at the original Leslie Green entrance building for the Charing Cross platforms at the corner of Drummond Street. Externally this remains largely unaltered and is used as a fan chamber with a huge upright fan in the centre of the building. A modern iron stairway has been installed in the lift shaft for emergency egress. The ticket office was not in the building but was located below ground; this has now been converted into a sub-station and was not accessible to us.
Sources: * Various files in the National Archive * London Transport Museum (1915 & 1908 pictures)) * Abandoned Stations on London’s Underground by J E Connor - Pub. Connor & Butler 2008 ISBN 978 0 947699 41 4 * Wikipedia - some text reproduced under Creative Commons * Abandoned Stations - Northern Line Disused Features