Saturday 23 November 2013

The Waterloo and City Line (The Drain) is opened

The L&SWR, who still knew many of their passengers wished to progress to the City and were probably wearied by the earlier failures to connect their station to the north bank of the Thames, took direct action in 1894. By backing the Waterloo and City Railway financially and supplying five of the eight Directors, including having Air Wyndham Portal as Chairman of both Boards and the General Manager of the L&SWR as a Director, the L&SWR were able to ensure construction of a short tube link, one mile and 46 chains from Waterloo was begun. The first piling started on 18th June 1894, the original idea to power the line from a station on the south river bank was also speedily rejected in favour of location at Waterloo so any spare capacity could be used to light Waterloo. The L&SWR granted an easement on 5th March 1896 to the Waterloo and City to enable the Tube to be built under their General Offices and under or in certain of the arches of Waterloo Station for a consideration of £1,510 chargeable on the rates and tolls of the Waterloo and City and payable quarterly. The first impact on the L&SWR’s Waterloo Station was allowing“…the temporary removal of the dining rooms and kitchen used by the uniform staff and such of the clerical staff of the South Western Company as are not members of the dining Club, and at present located in arches 251 and 252 …” enabling the Waterloo Company to pull down and remove the portion of the Central Pier between those arches. The kitchen and dining room were relocated temporarily to archway 250. It is perhaps worthy of note that staff arrangements were no light matter within the station given that in 1896 the Waterloo Station Superintendent (as the L&SWR termed the Station Manager) had 603 staff under his charge which did not include those employed as Headquarter staff. For this reason many staff messed off-site at places such as Mepham Street – decisions that would ultimately have a future impact on the Surrey Room. Those staff were part of the complex arrangements for handling some 50,000 people a day emerging from 800 daily trains in winter; rising to 80,000 daily in summer delivered by 1,040 trains.
The Waterloo and City was swiftly known as “The Drain” some say because it remains one of the leakiest tube lines on the network (and certainly “The Sump” was provided on the Up line side, about 230 yards to the rear of the Waterloo Up Advanced Starting Signal with the express purpose of “receiving and pumping away any water that may drain from the Tunnels”). Others claim the Waterloo and City just “drains away” commuters to the City. This delightful line is completely unconnected to the rest of the London Underground system, and therefore whilst not under their control for many years only appeared on the official London Underground map as a parallel set of dotted lines. The line makes the diagonal journey under London crossing underneath the Thames just upstream from Blackfriars Bridge. In the open land between the former South Station and Lower Marsh the Waterloo vista had originally allowed sight of the Waterloo & City Railway depot, generating station, and sidings, but the new L&SWR terminus and its necessary approach roads would mean eventually the depot came to be almost entirely removed from view. The Waterloo and City line relied on Westinghouse brakes which, being operated by compressed air, had tanks refilled from a compressor and tank at the Waterloo terminus, reinforcing the relationship between the two companies.
At Waterloo Station, the Waterloo and City line was 40 feet below the rails, or 17 feet below street level. To be a success it had to capture the suburban commuter market arriving at the L&SWR’s Waterloo. However Berkshire commuters arriving at Khartoum and Surrey Commuters arriving at South Station had the expanse of Central Station separating them. The Drain was therefore accessed from a connecting tunnel by a combination of slopes and stairs emerging at both the South Station, and the easterly side of Khartoum. The slopes at Waterloo were sufficiently steep and long that it was a standing instruction, “The slopes leading to the Platforms at Waterloo must be regularly sanded”. Initially both the stations on the Waterloo and City were rather dark and gloomy affairs with bare brick walls and the platforms were almost Stygian. Perhaps this utilitarianism was understandable for a station which really was intended entirely for a simple commuting function and not part of a wider network with more recognised retail and leisure uses.

from The History of Waterloo Station buy your copy at Amazon or at a bookshop

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