London Bridge Station
London Bridge Station is the oldest still-operating train station in central London, first opening in 1839, and it’s the city’s fourth busiest rail terminal: in normal times around 55 million people use it each year. (The actual first London rail terminus was Bermondsey Spa, which opened three years earlier in 1836 but closed in 1915.) This is also a station on the London Underground network, and it is the only underground station to have the word ‘London’ in its name.
Like many parts of London the station suffered significant bomb damage during the Second World War. This wasn’t properly repaired until the 1960s, but even then it was considered a particularly shabby and over-crowded station. It was originally built as two separate stations, which long-term commuters will remember with no love whatsoever. It was re-opened in 2019 after a five-year, £1bn redesign and rebuild, and the result gained two major Royal Institute of British Architects awards.
The main concourse is the largest of any station in the country, and the station is said to be able to accommodate 50% more passengers than the 55 million it handled before the rebuild.
Okay, it’s a rail station so the scope for sightseeing is limited, but this is London – there’s always more just around the corner! A short walk from the station by the banks of the River Thames is the remains of Winchester Palace, a 900-year-old, 12th century building. This was home to bishops and was often used to entertain royal guests. In 1424 James 1 of Scotland had his wedding feast here. In the 17th century it was converted to tenements and warehouses. In 1814 it was destroyed in a fire, but this led to the original structure being ‘rediscovered’ and eventually fully revealed and preserved in the 1980s.
Did you know? When London Bridge station first opened the low height of the platforms caused quite a stir. Well, to be more precise the large step down from the train led women to show a shocking (for the time, naturally) amount of ankle and even leg!