NORTH WOOLWICH LINE

 

 

Opened in 1846 between Stratford and Canning Town, the line was extended to North Woolwich the following year. Services were extended north to Palace Gates in 1887 although that line (northwards from Seven Sisters) was closed to passengers in 1963.

1979 saw the North Woolwich branch incorporated into the North London Line, pre-empting the closure of the Broad Street line (Broad Street station had hitherto provided the eastern terminus for the North London Line).

All North London line services were withdrawn from the section south of Stratford in 2006. The DLR extension to Stratford International has taken over the line as far south as Canning Town. The Custom House to North Woolwich section will be used by Crossrail.

 


 

 

Connaught Road tunnel (aka Albert Dock tunnel / Silvertown tunnel)

 


When the Victoria Dock was built, a swing bridge was put in at its entrance. However it was thought that the opening and closing of the bridge would interfere with the train services so a new route for the line was built to the north of the dock. The route of the line was interruped again when the adjacent Albert Dock was opened; a new cut & cover tunnel was built underneath its entrance.

The tunnel is due to be used again when the Custom House to North Woolwich section of track is taken over by Crossrail.

 

#1 - is the (former) North London line descending into the Connaught Road Tunnel from Custom House station.
#2 - is the site of the line that led to the Beckton and Gallions branches, as well as the previous route to North Woolwich.
#3 - the Beckton branch of the Docklands Light Railway that utilises parts of the routes of the original Beckton and Gallions branches.

For an explanation of the lines mentioned above and also the nearby Connaught Road station, see www.disused-stations.org.uk

(photo: 2007)

 

 

 


Heading toward the tunnel from Custom House station. The surface route that the line used to take branched off to the left.

(photo: 2006)

 

 

 


Descending toward the tunnel.

(photo: 2006)

 

 

 

The tunnel layout is symmetrical. There are long buttressed sections at both tunnel approaches.

(photo: 2009 by John Simmonds)

© 2009 John Simmonds

 

 

 


Photo taken from the side of a train shortly before closure. This view is looking back toward Custom House.

(photo: 2006)

 

 

 

The initial double tracked width becomes two single track tunnels. Note the airshaft in the roof.

(photo: 2009)

 

 

 

Looking up at the airshaft. There is a matching one at the other end of the single bore tunnels. They are situated either side of Connaught Bridge.

(photo: 2009 by John Simmonds)

© 2009 John Simmonds

 

 

 

Surface view looking in a south-easterly direction. The north-western airshaft is in the foreground. The south-eastern one on the other side of the dock entrance is arrowed, showing that the route of the tunnel skews across the line of the bridge.

The bridge - Connaught Bridge - is a replacement for the one that used to carry the line over the dock entrance (the first alignment of the line followed what is now Silvertown Way and North Woolwich Road. The building of the Royal Victoria Dock cut through the railway's route so a new alignment around the north of the dock was built. This lasted until the Royal Albert dock was built, again cutting through the line's route, at which point the Connaught Tunnel was built).

(photo: 2009)

 

 

 

The centre section of the tunnel as seen here, is iron ringed, re-constructed much in the same way as a deep level tube line. Shown here is a crossover passage between the two tunnels. The running track is still largely intact in the northbound tunnel; surprising considering that rationalisation of the line resulted in only the southbound tunnel being used for passenger services from 1969, and that goods services ceased using the northbound tunnel in 1993.

(photo: 2009)

 

 

 

The join between brick lined tunnel and iron rings. The iron ringed section is that which passes directly beneath the Royal Albert dock and is the section that was rebuilt/lowered after it was discovered that the bottom of passing boats were scraping the top of the tunnel! As part of the Crossrail works, the iron ringed section has been removed and the section enlarged, not only for the larger new trains that will pass through but for the overhead power. The entire tunnel floor has been lowered for that reason.

(photo: 2009)

 

 

 

The northbound tunnel looking in a north-westerly direction toward Custom House.

(photo: 2009)

continues on next page...

 

 


 

Reference: London Railways by Edwin Course. B T Batsford Ltd, London, 1962.

 


 

North Woolwich Line: Connaught tunnel - part 2