Victoria Station

Historical Eye

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Victoria station circa 1896: This view gives one a really capital notion of the general aspect of this West-end railway terminus, and also of the activity that characterises it at most hours of the days. The great building that is seen above the entrance to the London, Brighton, and South Coast Station is the Grosvenor Hotel, which has direct communication with the railway platforms. Straight up past the terrace of mansions indicated in the distance, Grosvenor Place leads to Hyde Park Corner, while sharp on the right Victoria Street leads through “Flat-land” to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. The station yard here is also one of the great terminal stations for the omnibuses from all quarters of the Metropolis; and this, combined with the cab traffic, which is enormous – never fails to impress the visitor from the Continent with a sense of the bewildering energy of our mighty city. And, of course, this may be described as the station for Continental and foreign arrivals generally. On the right is seen the entrance to the Victoria Station belonging to the Metropolitan and District Railways, whereby one may reach any part of London. The connecting subway comes as a boon and a blessing to travellers not accustomed to crossing crowded thoroughfares. The fact that there are two distinct railway stations here, quite apart from that belonging to the District Railway, often leads to confusion. The two companies who each have a terminus here are the Chatham and Dover, and Brighton and South Coast lines.

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Victoria Station today: The weight of train traffic at Victoria makes this one of London’s busiest termini, which also happens to be one of the most poorly designed for 21st Century purposes. I've always struggled with the layout and I suspect this is a Victoriann inheritance. Today, the main company that operates out of Victoria is Southern Railway, which sports green and yellow livery and runs relatively comfortable trains. Looking at today’s photo (apologies for the lighting) we see that the hotel in the distance is still standing, although I failed to investigate what its purpose now is. It's probably still a hotel. The houses and flats at the far end, running to the right of the photo, are also present in the circa 1896 image and look surprisingly untouched. Victoria Station remains a major hub for buses, with what appears to be half of London’s routes running through it. The system probably makes no sense whatsoever to the poor, befuddled tourist and, just as they did in the late Victorian period, most trust themselves to the uncertainties of the Undergound system. One interesting relic from the late Victorian period is an unusual clock close by (out of shot on the right). It resembles Big Ben and displays both London and Paris times, a reminder of the station’s role in welcoming continental visitors who arriving from or departing for the boat-train service to France.

Then and now 1896

'The station yard here is also one of the great terminal stations for the omnibuses from all quarters of the Metropolis'

Circa 1896: Victoria Station

Around St Paul's

Around Trafalgar Square

Fleet street and the Strand

Victoria Station

Westminster and Lambeth

Marble Arch and Kensington Gardens

Back to re-inventing the wheel

Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Street

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