Railways of London

Railways .—If omnibuses and cabs are more important than railways to strangers while in  London, railways are obviously the most important of the three when coming to or departing from London.  The following are a few particulars concerning such railways as enter the metropolis.

London and North-Western Railway  has its terminus just behind Euston Square.  The noble portico in front—by far the finest thing of the kind connected with railway architecture—has been rendered ridiculous by the alterations in the buildings behind it; for it is now at one corner of an enclosed court, instead of being in the centre of the frontage.  A new hall leading to the booking-offices, finished in 1849, is worthy of the great company to which it belongs; the vast dimensions, the fine statue of George Stephenson, and the bassi-rilievi  by Thomas, render it an object deserving of a visit.  This station is the London terminus of a system exceeding 1,446 miles.

The Midland Railway  has a magnificent terminus in the Euston Road, and a junction with the Metropolitan line.  It has already more than 800 miles open.

Great Northern Railway  has its terminus at King's Cross—a building more remarkable for novelty than for beauty.  This company, a severe competitor to some of older date, has few stations near London; but the directness of the line of railway renders it important as an outlet to the north.  A good hotel is contiguous to the terminus.  The goods' depôt has become famous for the vast quantity of coal brought to the metropolis.

Great Western Railway  has its terminus at Paddington, where a fine new station was built a few years ago.  A style of arabesque polychrome decoration has been adopted, not seen at other metropolitan stations.  Paddington is the head-quarters of the broad-gauge system, which extends to Weymouth in one direction, to Truro in a second, to Milford Haven in a third, and to Wolverhampton in a fourth; but some of the broad-gauge lines belong to other companies; while, on the other hand, this company has adopted the double-gauge on about 400 miles of its line.  The terminus has a splendid new hotel adjoining it.

West London Railway  (now better known as the West London Extension Railway ) can hardly be said to have an independent commercial existence.  It was an old and unsuccessful affair, till taken up by four of the great companies, and enlarged in an important way.  It now includes a railway bridge over the Thames at Battersea; it is connected with the London and North-Western, the Great Western, and the Metropolitan, on the north, and with the South-Western, the Brighton, and the Chatham and Dover, on the south.  There are stations at Kensington, Chelsea, and Battersea.

Hammersmith and City Junction Railway  crosses the last-named line at Shepherds' Bush, and joins the Great Western at Kensal New Town, a mile or two beyond Paddington.

North and South-Western Junction Railway  is, perhaps, valuable rather as a link between the greater railways, than as an independent line.  It joins the North London at Camden Town, and the South-Western at Kew; and has stations at Kentish Town, Hampstead, Finchley New Road, Edgeware Road, Kensal Green, Acton, and Hammersmith.  It establishes through trains with other companies; and although it has no actual London terminus of its own, it is a great convenience to the western margin of the metropolis, for the fares are low.

South-Western Railway  has its terminus in the Waterloo Road, which has been placed in connection with the London Bridge Station.  The main lines of the company extend to Portsmouth in one direction, Dorchester in another, and Exeter in a third; while there is a multitude of branches—from Wimbledon to Croydon, from Wimbledon to Epsom and Leatherhead, from Wandsworth to Richmond and Windsor, from Barnes to Hounslow, from Staines to Reading, &c.  There is no good hotel whatever near the Waterloo or Vauxhall Stations—a defect which seems to need a remedy.

Victoria and Crystal Palace Railway  is a concern in which so many companies have an interest, that it is not easy to define the ownership.  The Victoria Station, within a quarter of a mile of the Queen's Palace, Pimlico, is very large, but certainly not very handsome.  The Grosvenor Hotel, attached to it, may rank among the finest in the metropolis.  The Brighton, the Chatham and Dover, and the Great Western, are accommodated at this station, where both the broad and narrow gauges are laid down.  The railway leads thence, to join the Brighton at Sydenham and Norwood, by a railway-bridge across the Thames; it has stations at Battersea, Wandsworth, Balham, Streatham, Norwood, and the Crystal Palace; and throws off branches to meet the lines of the other three companies above named.

LondonBrightonand South Coast Railway  has for its terminus a portion of the great London Bridge Station, contiguous to which a hotel has been constructed.  It also has termini at Victoria and Kensington.  The line leads nearly due south to the sea at Brighton, and then along the sea-coast, from Hastings in the east to Portsmouth in the west.  There are also several branches to accommodate Surrey and Sussex.  Taken altogether, this is the most remarkable pleasure-line  in England,—the traffic of this kind between London and Brighton being something marvellous.

South-Eastern Railway  has another portion of the large but incongruous London Bridge Station in its possession.  The seaside termini of the line are at Margate, Ramsgate, Deal, Dover, and Hastings.  The Greenwich and North Kent branches are important feeders; while there are others of less value.  The company have spent a vast sum of money in extending their line to the north of the Thames—by forming a city station in Cannon Street, with a bridge over the river midway between London and Southwark Bridges; and a West-end Station at Charing Cross, with a bridge over the river at (what was till lately) Hungerford Market.  There is also a connection with the South-Western terminus in the Waterloo Road.  The company have been forced to pay a sum of £300,000 for St. Thomas's Hospital, as the only means of insuring a convenient course for this extension—a striking instance of the stupendous scale on which railway operations are now conducted.

LondonChathamand Dover Railway  is a very costly enterprise.  It may be said to start from two junctions with the Metropolitan, has a large station near Ludgate Hill, (involving great destruction of property,) crosses the Thames a little eastward of Blackfriars Bridge, and proceeds through Surrey and Kent to Sydenham, Bromley, Crays, Sevenoaks, Chatham, Sheerness, Faversham, Herne Bay, Margate, Ramsgate, Canterbury, Dover Pier, &c.  It also comprises a curvilinear line from Ludgate to Pimlico, with stations at Blackfriars, Newington, Walworth, Camberwell, Loughborough Road, Brixton, Clapham, Wandsworth Road, and Battersea; and a branch to Peckham, Nunhead, and the Crystal Palace.

Blackwall Railway, with which is associated the Tilbury and Southend, has its terminus in Fenchurch Street.  The station is small and unattractive; but it accommodates a wonderful amount of passenger traffic.  The original line extended only from London to Blackwall, with intermediate stations at Shadwell, Stepney, Limehouse, West India Docks, and Poplar.  An important branch from Stepney to Bow establishes a connection with the Great Eastern Railway valuable to both companies.  At Stepney also begins the Tilbury and Southend line, passing through Bromley, Barking, and numerous other places.  Accommodation is provided, a little way from the Fenchurch Street Station, for a large amount of goods traffic.  The line is now leased in perpetuity to the Great Eastern Company.

Great Eastern Railway  has its terminus in Bishopsgate Street, or rather Shoreditch, and a large depôt and station at Stratford.  The Shoreditch station is large.  This terminus, however, will shortly be removed to Broad Street, City.  The lines of this company are numerous, and ramify in many directions towards the east, north-east, and north.  Its terminal points (with those of the associated companies) at present are—Peterborough, Hunstanton, Wells, Yarmouth, Aldborough, and Harwich; with less distant termini at Ongar and North Woolwich.

North London Railway, consisting wholly of viaduct and cutting, has its terminus at Broad Street, Finsbury.  All its stations are considered to be in London.  It joins the London and North-Western near Primrose Hill, and the Blackwall at Stepney.  It has intermediate stations at Camden Road, Caledonian Road, Islington, Cannonbury, Kingsland, Dalston, Hackney, Victoria Park, and Bow.  Trains run every quarter of an hour, in both directions, at fares varying from 2d. to 4d.; and the number of passengers is immense.

Metropolitan Railway, from Finsbury to Paddington, is a very remarkable one, nearly all tunnel, and requiring the carriages to be constantly lighted with gas.  It runs from Westminster Bridge, viâ Pimlico, Brompton, Kensington, Notting Hill, and Bayswater, to Paddington, where it joins the Great Western.  It then goes under Praed Street and the New Road to King's Cross.  There it joins the Great Northern, and thence goes on to Holborn Bridge, Smithfield Dead Meat Market, and Moorgate Street.  Since the opening of the Metropolitan District Extension Railway, you can go at present (July, 1870) from the Mansion House, under the Northern Thames Embankment, before described, to Westminster Bridge, &c.  There are stations near the Mansion House, the terminus; at Blackfriars, the Temple, Charing Cross, and Westminster.