Holborn Viaduct services

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Sad Sprinter

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What is the history of services to and from Holborn Viaduct? They seemed to be formed of "everywhere to everywhere" services such as Victoria/London Bridge to HV via Croydon, minus the few peak hour trains to Bexleyheath and the Catford Loop. Did peak long distance trains to Ramsgate ever serve the station?

Lastly, why did Thameslink retain the Sutton Loop services after closure and privatisation instead of shedding it for the more useful services via Crystal Palace?
 
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delt1c

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What is the history of services to and from Holborn Viaduct? They seemed to be formed of "everywhere to everywhere" services such as Victoria/London Bridge to HV via Croydon, minus the few peak hour trains to Bexleyheath and the Catford Loop. Did peak long distance trains to Ramsgate ever serve the station?

Lastly, why did Thameslink retain the Sutton Loop services after closure and privatisation instead of shedding it for the more useful services via Crystal Palace?
Can you expand on "HV" please
 

30907

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What is the history of services to and from Holborn Viaduct? They seemed to be formed of "everywhere to everywhere" services such as Victoria/London Bridge to HV via Croydon, minus the few peak hour trains to Bexleyheath and the Catford Loop. Did peak long distance trains to Ramsgate ever serve the station?

Lastly, why did Thameslink retain the Sutton Loop services after closure and privatisation instead of shedding it for the more useful services via Crystal Palace?
Holborn Viaduct was the city terminus of the LCDR - before electrification, it was common for longer distance trains to split/combine at Herne Hill with Victoria and Holborn portions. Once the connections at Chiselhurst Junction had been built by the SECR Committee around 1904, Kent Coast business trains were diverted into Cannon St which was much less cramped (only 3 platforms at Holborn could be extended to 8 cars and that blocked the others!).

The electric services ran to Shortlands (later Sevenoaks), Crystal Palace HL, and over the Wimbledon and Sutton line when it opened, plus the peak hour services via Lewisham. There were peak hour extras to both Gillingham and Maidstone E once those were electrified. In the peaks some trains had to use the bays at Blackfriars owing to the lack of platforms at Holborn.

The non-electrified platforms at Holborn were exceedingly useful for parcels traffic, and the station also served Fleet Street, with an all-night service until the early 60s. While there were no fast Ramsgate trains, there was a handful of steam semi-fast passenger-and-parcels trains towards the coast, plus the 2.55am Newspapers which survived into the 70s.

As for Thameslink, the Wimbledon service was well established, whereas there has never to my knowledge been a service from Holborn/Blackfriars via Crystal Palace LL (or indeed via Thornton Heath) so I don't quite understand your point.
 

Busaholic

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Holborn Viaduct was the city terminus of the LCDR - before electrification, it was common for longer distance trains to split/combine at Herne Hill with Victoria and Holborn portions. Once the connections at Chiselhurst Junction had been built by the SECR Committee around 1904, Kent Coast business trains were diverted into Cannon St which was much less cramped (only 3 platforms at Holborn could be extended to 8 cars and that blocked the others!).

The electric services ran to Shortlands (later Sevenoaks), Crystal Palace HL, and over the Wimbledon and Sutton line when it opened, plus the peak hour services via Lewisham. There were peak hour extras to both Gillingham and Maidstone E once those were electrified. In the peaks some trains had to use the bays at Blackfriars owing to the lack of platforms at Holborn.

The non-electrified platforms at Holborn were exceedingly useful for parcels traffic, and the station also served Fleet Street, with an all-night service until the early 60s. While there were no fast Ramsgate trains, there was a handful of steam semi-fast passenger-and-parcels trains towards the coast, plus the 2.55am Newspapers which survived into the 70s.

As for Thameslink, the Wimbledon service was well established, whereas there has never to my knowledge been a service from Holborn/Blackfriars via Crystal Palace LL (or indeed via Thornton Heath) so I don't quite understand your point.
The steam train that crashed into the back of the stationary electric train at St John's in 1957 (the Lewisham train crash) was a peak hour Cannon Street to Ramsgate service. The train behind that was an electric from Holborn Viaduct via the Bexleyheath line, on which my father was a passenger, but I never remember him discussing it in any detail: I was nine at the time, and still remember my mother's anxiety as the evening wore on and we heard nothing. She wasn't well in the first place, but I believe that evening had a long-term impact.
 

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The steam train that crashed into the back of the stationary electric train at St John's in 1957 (the Lewisham train crash) was a peak hour Cannon Street to Ramsgate service. The train behind that was an electric from Holborn Viaduct via the Bexleyheath line, on which my father was a passenger, but I never remember him discussing it in any detail: I was nine at the time, and still remember my mother's anxiety as the evening wore on and we heard nothing. She wasn't well in the first place, but I believe that evening had a long-term impact.
Fortunately the Holborn (which was on the Nunhead line) was travelling slowly enough for the driver to spot that the flyover had been damaged and so avoid a further accident - but still frightening (possibly worse for you at homeworse) and not surprising your father didn't say much.
 

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In 1968 I took a through morning train from Dover Priory to HV (it probably started at Ramsgate) which went via Maidstone East & Catford. It included a Motor Luggage Van.

Then, in the morning peak, there was a choice of going to 4 London terminals - CX; C. St; Victoria and HV.
 

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Relative who lived at Barnehurst in the late 1930s described how the population had just got used to jumping on the first London service, they all stopped at London Bridge, and changing there or not depending on whether you were going to Cannon Street or Charing Cross, as the porters there always shouted the destination up and down the platform. When the handful of Holborn trains started (1935 I believe) there were a continuing range of tales of those who had been overcarried round to there, and not only had to make their way forward but got lost on the way as well and were grossly late for work.
 

70014IronDuke

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I remember reading that some form of restrictions, possibly axle loads, at Holborn Viaduct was the principal reason for the Southern Region retaining about a dozen ageing 2-cylinder 4-4-0s (Ls, L1s, Ds, D1s etc) up until the Kent electrification schemes were finished in the summer of 1962.

But there was fake news even then, so I don't know if this is true.
 

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From the 1978 timetable, a broad summary, not all station stops shown, but the vast majority were all-stations...
Central Division
Half-hourly Mon-Fri HV-Herne Hill-Streatham-Selhurst-W Croydon (from Victoria on Sat/Sun)
Peak hours Mon-Fri HV-Herne Hill-Streatham-London Bridge via Wimbledon or Sutton via Wimbledon
SE Division
Half hourly Mon-Fri HV-Denmark Hill-Catford-Bromley S-Swanley-Sevenoaks via Bat & Ball (from Victoria on Sat/Sun)
Peak hours Mon-Fri HV-Herne Hill stations via Beckenham J, Bromley S, Orpington
Peak hours Mon-Fri HV-Bromley S-Gillingham/Faversham/Canterbury E (3 different trains, 1st and 2nd class)
Peak hours Mon-Fri HV-Bromley S-Swanley-Maidstone E (1 train, marked as 1st and 2nd class)
Peak hours Mon-Fri HV-Elephant & Castle-Peckham Rye-Lewisham-Sidcup-Dartford (some only Blackfriars, not HV)
Peak hours Mon-Fri HV-Lewisham-Bexleyheath-Dartford or Slade Green (3 trains)
 

Peter Mugridge

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Here's the very last public train out of Holborn Viaduct, on 26th January 1990.
 

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Monarch010

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In the late sixties and early seventies I was working at a company at the western end of the City. The office was roughly equidistant from Cannon Street and Holborn Viaduct. I was commuting from a station on the Bexleyheath line. In the morning a train to Cannon Street suited me best because of the times, but in the evening I much preferred a train from Holborn Viaduct, especially during the dark evenings of the winter, when the station seemed to be very warmly lit. It had a much nicer ambience than Cannon Street and missing the crowds London Bridge was definitely a plus.
 

30907

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I remember reading that some form of restrictions, possibly axle loads, at Holborn Viaduct was the principal reason for the Southern Region retaining about a dozen ageing 2-cylinder 4-4-0s (Ls, L1s, Ds, D1s etc) up until the Kent electrification schemes were finished in the summer of 1962.

But there was fake news even then, so I don't know if this is true.
That's correct, I assume for Blackfriars Bridge. There was a 7.24am London Br-Tonbridge-Ramsgate that came empty from Holborn and was a D1 pretty much to the end of steam (the unrebuilt Ds and Es went some years earlier - apart from preserved (31)737.
 

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I am advised by a long retired mate , himself a South Eastern relief Station Manager (who covered the job a few times) , that there was an Area Manager Holborn Viaduct at one time - the lowest management grade at MS1 , but worthy of having it as it was quite an important city terminal with no doubt important city passengers who would have perhaps appreciated such supervision. Nice job I suspect , would have enjoyed that myself.
 

70014IronDuke

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That's correct, I assume for Blackfriars Bridge. There was a 7.24am London Br-Tonbridge-Ramsgate that came empty from Holborn and was a D1 pretty much to the end of steam (the unrebuilt Ds and Es went some years earlier - apart from preserved (31)737.

Ah. thanks for that. I must have seen these locomotives as a kid, but had not been baptised in steam at the time. Later, I just couldn't get down to Kent and be allowed by the tracks alone before it all went electric. Apart from the L1s, which always looked 'chunkier' from photos, they all seemed pretty much the same. And of course, the Southern's shamble of a numbering scheme didn't help clarify which was what with these locos
 

delt1c

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Have to admit used to pass Holborn Viaduct daily late 70's, early 80's but all I ever saw was 2Haps and EPBs
 
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...... the station also served Fleet Street, with an all-night service until the early 60s. While there were no fast Ramsgate trains, there was a handful of steam semi-fast passenger-and-parcels trains towards the coast, plus the 2.55am Newspapers which survived into the 70s.
Does anyone have any info on the frequency of the suburban all-night services when they ran from HV?
  1. Were these regular interval through the night (e.g. hourly) or at some sporadic frequency?
  2. Did any late night trains run on Saturday night / Sunday morning, or were they suspended / heavily reduced - like the majority of London's Night Bus network back in the day?
  3. Was there a night service into London, or was it outbound only?

IIRC the suburban trains were provided for the largeish night-time workforce which operated the printing presses on nearby Fleet Street. The same rationale that saw many of London's old-school Night Bus routes passing along or close to Fleet Street.
 
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Taunton

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The night trains were just odd services. A 1950 timetable shows the Herne Hill-Bromley line departures at 1.20, 2.20, 3.15 and 4.50, with Catford Loop services at 1.50 and 5.00. The only Wimbledon Loop service was change out of the 1.20 at Herne Hill, and a 3.00 to Gillingham ran nonstop to Dartford. Nothing on Sunday early mornings. Incidentally, the daytime services included every 20 minutes from Blackfriars to the onetime Crystal Palace High Level line, which closed just a couple of years later.

John Betjeman wrote in passing in the 1950s about these services, and described the few printers still using them to go home to places like Ravensbourne, which he said still had wooden platforms and gas lighting, noting that with well-paid Fleet Street, plus the ease of both driving and parking in the middle of the night, almost all had moved on to their own cars.
 

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The night trains were just odd services. A 1950 timetable shows the Herne Hill-Bromley line departures at 1.20, 2.20, 3.15 and 4.50, with Catford Loop services at 1.50 and 5.00. The only Wimbledon Loop service was change out of the 1.20 at Herne Hill, and a 3.00 to Gillingham ran nonstop to Dartford. Nothing on Sunday early mornings. Incidentally, the daytime services included every 20 minutes from Blackfriars to the onetime Crystal Palace High Level line, which closed just a couple of years later.

John Betjeman wrote in passing in the 1950s about these services, and described the few printers still using them to go home to places like Ravensbourne, which he said still had wooden platforms and gas lighting, noting that with well-paid Fleet Street, plus the ease of both driving and parking in the middle of the night, almost all had moved on to their own cars.
That pattern prevailed to the mid 60s - Orpington was the terminus except for the 3am which carried papers rather than printers and ran to Ramsgate, with a single BSK only!

Not sure whether this has already been said, but the night trains stayed steam for a number of years after electrification - don't know when they changed over.

The first daytime up trains left Swanley and Orpington about 4am to form the 4.50/5am down, which were the beginning of the next day's service, and that stayed until relatively recently.
 

Busaholic

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Does anyone have any info on the frequency of the suburban all-night services when they ran from HV?
  1. Were these regular interval through the night (e.g. hourly) or at some sporadic frequency?
  2. Did any late night trains run on Saturday night / Sunday morning, or were they suspended / heavily reduced - like the majority of London's Night Bus network back in the day?
  3. Was there a night service into London, or was it outbound only?

IIRC the suburban trains were provided for the largeish night-time workforce which operated the printing presses on nearby Fleet Street. The same rationale that saw many of London's old-school Night Bus routes passing along or close to Fleet Street.
Just a comment on the night bus services - almost all of the very few that ran any journeys at all on Saturday night/Sunday morning went to or through that Blackfriars/HV area, which may have been useful to a few who used night train services during the week.
 

30907

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Just a comment on the night bus services - almost all of the very few that ran any journeys at all on Saturday night/Sunday morning went to or through that Blackfriars/HV area, which may have been useful to a few who used night train services during the week.
Good point. The Sunday papers went to bed rather earlier than the dailies, though, which meant there was little or no need for the night trains.
(OT: memories of seeing the 4am late edition with the latest Test score from Aus or NZ on my way to work at 7.... unimaginable now!)
 

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Good point. The Sunday papers went to bed rather earlier than the dailies, though, which meant there was little or no need for the night trains.
(OT: memories of seeing the 4am late edition with the latest Test score from Aus or NZ on my way to work at 7.... unimaginable now!)

Re "Sunday availability" - you could purchase late evening on a Saturday some of the Sunday editions at places like Embankment and Waterloo tube stations....(presumably an earlier despatch was to cover overnight track posessions and diversions in those long ago days when the railway carried most of the newspaper traffic) - a bit O/T i know.
 

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presumably an earlier despatch was to cover overnight track posessions and diversions in those long ago days when the railway carried most of the newspaper traffic) - a bit O/T i know.
And there was me thinking it was to give the printers (or the editor?) a night off :)
 

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And there was me thinking it was to give the printers (or the editor?) a night off
Actually it was (and to an extent still is). The Sunday newspaper titles were then wholly separate from the weekday ones, with different staff and editors, and with various cross-arrangements for printing on the weekday printing plants. The printing of the news section did used to take place much earlier, on Saturday afternoon/early evening, and one of the principal points behind having the various separate sections on Sunday was they could be printed way earlier, maybe during the week, to be collated together.
 

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And there was me thinking it was to give the printers (or the editor?) a night off :)

Read various books on old Fleet Street - and you will find that socialising in paid for hours was rather normal ......the local hostelries must have taken a huge hit when forced relocation of other locations was imposed - a lost world.

At the other end of the distribution chain - in West Wales - there were no instances I can recall when "the papers" failed to arrive , you might get the odd non appearance of one of the papers due to I/R issues , but overall the supply chain worked incredibly well.
 

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Re "Sunday availability" - you could purchase late evening on a Saturday some of the Sunday editions at places like Embankment and Waterloo tube stations....(presumably an earlier despatch was to cover overnight track posessions and diversions in those long ago days when the railway carried most of the newspaper traffic) - a bit O/T i know.

You could certainly get the Sunday Times outside Charing Cross at about 9pm on a Saturday when I lived in Kent in the mid-1990s.
 

NorthKent1989

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My late uncle recalled getting a Holborn Viaduct train from Abbey Wood in the 50s or 60s I think, I never knew Woolwich line trains went to HV at any time I think it was one train a day or maybe a special service he only got it a couple of times but it called at all stops except Woolwich Dockyard and Nunhead, not sure where it started from though
 

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At the other end of the distribution chain - in West Wales - there were no instances I can recall when "the papers" failed to arrive , you might get the odd non appearance of one of the papers due to I/R issues , but overall the supply chain worked incredibly well.
One such occasion was in 1967 when all Surrey and Hampshire lost their papers, as the 03.40 Newspapers from Waterloo was wrecked in a spectacular high-speed overturning accident at Raynes Park, fortunately without injury, with the vans all smashed upside-down on the platforms, thousands of newspapers everywhere, and the footbridge demolished. Scars from this event are still visible there if you know where to look.

Onetime girlfriend had lived near the station at that time, and described how the whole road was woken up by the huge noise as it happened. Given proximity to Heathrow, many thought initially it had been a plane crash. In the days that followed newspapers blew all round people's gardens.

 
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At the other end of the distribution chain - in West Wales - there were no instances I can recall when "the papers" failed to arrive , you might get the odd non appearance of one of the papers due to I/R issues , but overall the supply chain worked incredibly well.
My recollection around this was one morning when my dad's copy of The Sun had not been delivered. He marched off to the newsagent to complain about the idiot paper boy, returning shortly afterwards with a copy under his arm and an explanation that arrival of all the London papers had been delayed by a train crash in the Midlands.

This turned out to be the Nuneaton sleeper train accident on 6 June 1975. Presumably the newspaper train had left Euston behind the Glasgow sleeper and was held up in the chaos.

The fact I can remember this after 45 years indicates what an extreme rarity it was for the papers not to arrive. Despite the disaster, they were still in the shops not long after breakfast time - not all that late, all things considered.

[EDIT] way OT for Holborn Viaduct though - sorry!
 
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frodshamfella

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I travelled from Bexleyheath to Holborn Viaduct a few times more out of curiosity as i normally commuted to Charing Cross and later Cannon Street. I remember these were peak hour services only, some terminated at Blackfriars.
 
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