Northern Line



King William Street station was the northbound terminus of the City & South London railway -
the world's first electric underground railway. Originally designed to be cable hauled, the line
proved popular and the original terminii (Stockwell at its southern end) were too small to
cope with the resultant passenger numbers.


C&SLR sign

Extension northwards to Bank, Moorgate was also impossible as the King William Street terminus
was facing east (the locomotives also had difficulty negotiating its sharp curves and steep gradients),
so it was abandoned - a new line was built from just north of Borough station (this one in a straight line),
running underneath the old one as far as London Bridge where a new station was added.

The old tunnel can be seen branching off just after leaving Borough station
from the left hand side of a northbound train.


The section of the tunnels between Borough and the London Bridge station area are relatively straight.




Though walking between the two, it seems a shorter distance than if walked on the road at ground level.




The quality of construction of this section of the line was poor - an indication can be seen here; the uncertain level of the left hand side of the tunnel. The tunnels here are of only 10' 2" diameter - after closure of this branch, the entire city branch of the Northern Line was closed for enlargement.

The brick bulkhead seen in the photo is one of several built in 1968/69 as part of ventilation works for London Bridge Northern Line station platforms.




The point where the tunnels are directly above the Northern Line platforms at London Bridge. The oblong holes in the floor, guarded by the safety rails, provide ventilation windows from the Northern Line platforms below. Looking up on the northbound platform at London Bridge, these shafts are still visible and provide a tantalizing glimpse of the old King William St tunnel above.




The original southbound tunnel was obliterated here at London Bridge when the station was redeveloped for the Jubilee Line extension (Photo: Apr 2006). The northbound tunnel is still intact, according to Richard Griffin.

For another site showing the tunnels at London Bridge, click here.




The staircase and shaft that leads down to London Bridge station. This emerges in the passageway leading from the Northern Line escalators to the Northern Line platforms.




The station and tunnels are, in parts, more a wartime time-capsule than that of an abandoned railway.




The stalactites increase closer to the river...
 do the curves.




This shaft is intriguing - tunnelling was not allowed directly beneath buildings so the tunnels had to follow the path of roads on the surface. This caused some very sharp curves to be built (the existing Piccadilly line between South Kensington station and the old Brompton Road station is an example of this). Where the road was narrow, the tunnels would have to be built one of top of the other, as was the case with this line where it passes under Swan Lane. This is the construction shaft built at Old Swan Pier, from where tunnelling for the line started.

The shaft is 82 feet deep. The last 9 feet provided a drainage sump. The southbound tunnel pictured here looking north, is directly below the northbound tunnel, which is where the ladder leads to.



Continues on next page...



King William Street - Pt.2



Photos taken between 1977 and 1981, except where stated.