South Kentish Town opened with the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway on 22nd June 1907. The entrance building was designed by Leslie Green with the characteristic red glazed terra cotta elevations typical of all the stations he designed for the CCE&HR. From there the main passenger access was by two lifts within a single 23’ diameter shaft down to the platforms 50 feet below, there was also an emergency spiral staircase.in an 18’ diameter shaft.
The original name for the station was Castle Road and this appeared on several maps prior to opening and on the station tiling. Before the station opened the name was changed to South Kentish Town and a recent investigation showed that the tiles showing Castle Road and then painted over. The station was never well used and from July 1908 some trains didn’t stop at South Kentish Town. The station was temporarily closed following unofficial strike action at the Lots Road power station during the afternoon of 5 June 1924, trains having called at the station that morning. Once power was restored it was decided not to re-open Mornington Crescent and South Kentish Town. Mornington Crescent was eventually reopened on 2nd July but South Kentish Town remained closed due to the very low passenger use.
As with City Road, South Kentish Town was adapted as an air raid shelter during WW2 and was equipped with bunks and a first aid post in 1940; these were removed immediately after the war. The platforms have also been demolished but there is no record of when this happened. There have been several proposals to reopen the station but these have come to nothing and the station is now retained for emergency egress from the Northern Line and an access point for permanent way works. The station building has been let to number of over the years and is presently a branch of Cash Converters who have access to the upper lift landing.
TOUR OF SOUTH KENTISH TOWN
We accessed the building along a narrow walkway to the rear from where there is a door at the back of the building directly on to a metal spiral staircase. Just outside the door there is a room to one side with an old boiler, presumably for heating the station building and at the top of the spiral staircase there is a fire place.
The stairs go down in two stages with the shaft floored across part way down; at the bottom of the shaft there is a ventilation fan. As with City Road, the underground subways are very grimy but the tiling and the entrances to the lifts remain in good condition and largely unaltered although the lifts were removed many years ago. From the lower lift landing there is a short well lit subway leading across the northbound line on a bridge to steps down to a cross passage linking the south end of the northbound platform with a point one third along the south bound platform, the two platforms being partly staggered. This subway is maintained and signed as an emergency escape route should passengers need to be detrained at South Kentish Town. From the far side of the lifts a second unlit subway leads to another flight of steps down to a second cross passage further north along the platforms.
The cream and dark red tiling is clearly visible in the platform area although it has been painted over making it less obvious from a passing train. The platform area is used for the storage of permanent way materials which are kept under grimy covers. The emergency escape shaft has been capped at street level although a metal column that supported the steps can still be seen in the shaft and the first few steps at the top also appear to be in place. In one of the lift wells there is access into a low level passage running beneath the tracks, presumably a cableway or ventilation tunnel, unfortunately there was no way down into the lift well to investigate this.
A prose piece called South Kentish Town was written in 1951 by Sir John Betjeman and told the fictional story of a passenger who became trapped in the disused station. It was based on a true incident where a train stopped at the station by mistake and opened its doors, but in real life no one was trapped.
- London Transport Museum (1907 picture)
- 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.