Down the line from Holborn

Whilst I mull over possible ways of modelling Holborn Viaduct, let’s move a little down the line to the junction of the Holborn and Charing Cross lines, just outside London Bridge.  Here we find Ewer Street depot, again built on brick viaducts above the mean Southwark streets.  The Kentrail website noted that…..

This was an interesting depot arrangement, situated upon a long thin site positioned immediately adjacent to the incline linking the London Bridge and Blackfriars lines. It formed part of the then newly created SE&CR Joint Managing Committee’s London Bridge area improvements. This had included the widening of the original London & Greenwich viaduct to the east of the terminus, which provided an additional two running lines and saw the abolition of the unique right-hand running on the Greenwich line. Terminating platforms at London Bridge were increased by four, by transferring the continental freight depot from here to a purpose-built facility at Southwark, upon a brick-built platform, level with the top of the viaduct. Situated immediately north of the ascending Blackfriars tracks, Southwark Continental Freight Depot essentially comprised a wide platform surface of two faces, serving eastward-facing terminating tracks. The platform was provided with a pitched roof canopy, and the depot’s entry lines were controlled by a signal box positioned at the eastern end of the platform surface. Incorporated into the depot’s site was a locomotive stabling point, which included a 54-foot 10-inch turntable flanked by a 30-foot long water tank, a coal stage, and a coaling crane. Thus, the facilities on offer here were those typically found at a motive power depot although, of course, there was an absence of any form of shed building. Despite being situated upon what was virtually the same site as the freight depot, the locomotive stabling point was instead referred to as ‘’Ewer Street’’, after the road which ran from north to south alongside the site’s eastern elevation.

The Grand Vitesse Depot received fruit and vegetables from the Continent, and some more valuable goods.  The plan below shows how the goods sidings and locomotive stabling point were shoe-horned into an area next to the London commuter lines.

Ewer Street has featured in the model press as a possible layout before, and an old (I think) Model Railways article described how difficult it was to get a locomotive into the stabling point in the wartime blackout.  This was compounded by the Depot platforms being off limits and patrolled by Railway Policemen and customs officials looking for a driver or fireman looking for free fruit.

The next photograph shows Ewer Street from the air, with the turntable central in the picture.

In this photo the EPB EMU is parked in the old Grand Vitesse depot.

Here’s an interesting photo taken in 1948. Justifies use of an ‘Austerity’ on Southern lines?

Unusual freight train at London Bridge
View eastward of a train on No. 2 Up Eastern line, headed by ex-WD ‘Austerity’ 2-8-0 No. 78597, built late 1944, stored briefly at Longmoor then shipped over the Channel in 12/44: it was returned to England in 4/46 and after overhaul at Ashford was loaned to the SR (at Hither Green) in 5/47, then taken into BR to become eventually No. 90390: it was transferred to the LMR in 9/51 and withdrawn in 9/65. (Note that here it still has the Westinghouse pump fitted for working trains on the Continent. The train is comprised of Continental fruit wagons, the front one being Italian (FS), presumably returning to Dover for the train-ferry to Dunkerque from Ewer Street (Southwark) Depot.

Photo by Ben Brooksbank

When we come to a model of the site it has a lot going for it – locomotive facilities, vans (including ferry vans) and non-passenger stock and EMU’s passing on the main line.  It is also interesting how long the site is.  The figure below shows an 8′ length in ‘N’ marked on the map.  This is far longer than the track between Holborn and Ludgate!

I see this as potential N-mod boards.  One could leave out the branch to Holborn, leaving 4 tracks at the front in best N-mod style, and straightened at the left hand end.  The Herne Hill-Holborn viaduct would still cross the lines, but vertically, forming a natural end to the module. The Grand Vitesse Depot would be turned a little and narrowed to be close to the 4 track main line.  The whole layout would be compressed a little to fit within 8′.  And Ewer Street stabling point could be modelled much as is, depending on the complexity of pointwork that is modelled.  This could form both a good home layout, and an exhibition module.

About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
This entry was posted in Hints and tips, Inspiration, Layout design, Out and about and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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