The History of Waterloo Station

The Full History of London's Busiest Station

The History of Waterloo Station
Waterloo Station in the 1950s

Waterloo Station was built in 1948 and originally it wasn’t designed to be a terminating station; instead, it was an extension from Nine Elms Station. The station was built by London and South Western Railway and was originally called “Waterloo Bridge.” But in 1886, it officially changed its name to Waterloo Station.

London and South Western Railway’s long-term aim was to extend its railway into the City of London which is east from Waterloo Station. They also aimed to expand the station very regularly as the passenger usage kept growing every year.

By 1898, London and South Western Railway had accepted that it was impossible to make a mainline railway across London, instead creating the Waterloo and City line which ran underground between two stops, Waterloo and Bank (Then known as “City”).

In 1904, London and South Western Railway began a total rebuild of the station, due to confusion between the platforms as they were poorly marked as well as the growing passenger numbers. When the station was due to reopen, it opened in stages. The first stage saw five new platforms open in 1910. Despite the First World War slowing down the rebuild of the station, it eventually opened in 1922 and it had 21 platforms and an 800 feet concourse to help with the flow of the growing number of passengers.

In 1921, an act was passed called the 1921 Railway Act which ended the London and South Western Railway as an independent company. The act went into force on January 1, 1923 and grouped all of the British Railway companies which was around 120 at the time, and the London and South Western Railway company ended in 1922.

During the Second World War, Waterloo was severely damaged after getting hit by a bomb, which needed some major repairs. However, no big changes were made to the original station. There is now a plaque inside Waterloo Station which is in memory of the Southern Railway staff who gave their lives in the Second World War. It reads. “To the memory of the 626 men of the Southern Railway who gave their lives in the 1939 – 1945 War,” and is placed on the wall within the current station.

The ownership of the station often changed as it went from the London and South Western Railway’s ownership to Southern Railway before nationalisation in 1948 saw the ownership change hands once again, this time to British Railways. Network Rail currently owns the station after gaining ownership in 2002.

In 1994 Waterloo lost two platforms. This was platform 20 and 21. They were handed over to the Eurostar service which began regular services between Waterloo and Gare du Nord on November 14. This only lasted until 2007 as the Eurostar terminus made the trip across London and began leaving London from St Pancras International station.

Currently, Waterloo is operating trains from South Western Railway after they took over South West Trains, as well as this London Underground services run from the station. The lines that run through Waterloo are the Bakerloo, Northern, Jubilee and Waterloo and City lines and the station is located within Zone 1 of the tube network.

Waterloo has been announced as Britain’s busiest railway station in recent years and it retained that record in 2015/16 after seeing just under 100 million journeys pass through it over the course of the year, just under 25 million more than the next busiest which is London Victoria. There are over 1,500 trains ran by South Western Railway through the station each day and the station is used by just over 650,000 people per day making it the busiest transport hub in Europe, and the number is expected to rise over the next few years.

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