North Woolwich railway station
Photo study of a desolate station, 1980
Story and photos © Mike Slocombe, May 2006
Opened on the 14th June 1847, the North Woolwich Railway station was a crumbling, faded shadow of former glories when I visited it in 1980.
A view looking towards the North Woolwich terminus station building, 1980
Built in the Italianate style, the main station building was constructed from yellow brick and embellished with classical columns and stone dressings. Twin central doors opened into a spacious booking hall - or rather they would have if the station wasn't all boarded up.
Constructed by the Eastern Counties Railway, the station was built in the hope that it would attract passengers from sailing ships putting into the Port of London, with a nearby pier expediting their journey into London.
In the end, it was the development of the nearby Royal Victoria Dock in the 1850s and the growth of factories on land bought by the railway company as grazing for cattle that brought prosperity to the line.
During its glory years, North Woolwich Station employed up to twenty men on the passenger side with the the Station Master living in the building's eastern wing.
Being slap in the middle of the bustling docks meant that the station was badly damaged during WW2, losing its canopies and turntable in a bombing raid on 7th September, 1940.
The docks traffic dwindled in the post-war period with the goods yard closing in 1970.
The station building slowly rotted away and was eventually replaced by a modern, smaller ticket office nearby in 1979.
In 1984 the Grade II Listed building became a museum to the Great Eastern Railway, reflecting the huge importance of the railway industry in the area.
A replacement station nearby now serves as the terminus for the North London Line.
» History of North Woolwich Railway
Near-ancient station bench clinging on to life on the deserted platform, 1980
In the ironwork of this old station bench you can see the initials of the railway company, Eastern Counties Railway 'ECR,' which was absorbed by the Great Eastern Railway way back in 1862.
Corridor, second floor, North Woolwich station building, 1980
Seeing as there was no one around, I took a walk around inside the near-derelict station building. Sadly, all hopes of finding interesting railwayana disappeared when I realised the place had been completely stripped out.
The station is now set close in late 2006 to allow the section of the North London Line between Stratford and Canning Town to be converted into a new extension of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).
This will see the closure of the line between Canning Town and North Woolwich, with the new DLR extension replicating most of the route.
North Woolwich old station building, May 2006
Looking towards the station buildings, North Woolwich station, May 2006
Restored North Woolwich old station building, May 2006
View towards the old turntable, North Woolwich, May 2006
The frankly unimpressive replacement North Woolwich station, May 2006
1910 view of the station site, with a busy good yards to the right. The station features a canopy running the length of the platform, with a signal box on the approach. In the distance, you can see the large station sign facing Woolwich across the river. [photo: D J Taylor]
The only known photograph of the small turntable in action, showing 2-4-2T tank engine No 7244 preparing for a return trip to Fenchurch Street. Date unknown. [photo: C S Bayes]
This 1956 view shows the shortened remains of the platform canopy, a victim on the 1940 Blitz. The station building was also heavily damaged, with a flat concrete roof replacing the original. [photo: Alan A Jackson]
Exterior view, North Woolwich station, 1964 [photo: Geoff Pember]
North Woolwich Old Station Museum
Pier Road, North Woolwich, London E16
Open: Jan-Nov: Sat-Sun 13:00-17:00 Tel: 020 7474 7244
We recommend the 'Return to North Woolwich' book from the Great Eastern Railway Society