5 Secrets Of London Blackfriars

By Daan Deol Last edited 23 months ago
5 Secrets Of London Blackfriars

Blackfriars station opened in 1886, with a different name. It went from international holiday start point to a mere through-station. Following a £550m reconstruction, it's once again one of London's major rail stations. Find out about its rise, fall and rise again...

London Blackfriars. Photo: Ewan Munro

1. A name-changer

The station was known as St Paul's until 1937, when it was renamed Blackfriars (not long after, the 'Post Office' tube station nabbed the St Paul's moniker). The name Blackfriars is named after a Dominican priory established in 1276 at the foot of nearby Ludgate Hill. Dominican friars wore black robes, hence the name Blackfriars.

2. 'Return to Brindisi please'

Destination Wall. Photo: Londonist

Long before Eurostar, Blackfriars was an important starting point for rail trips to the continent. The station had a wall with the names of train company LCDR's European destinations hand-carved into it. Tempting visitors were destinations such as St Petersburg, Marseilles, Berlin and Brindisi.

Much of the station was severely damaged by bombing during the second world war, but the wall survived and is displayed in today's station.

3. Stretching far and wide

Blackfriars is the only is the only station in London to stretch over two postcodes. Its northern end lies in EC4V, while the southern entrance is in SE1. It's also the first station to span the River Thames.

4. What are those red columns in the Thames?

A view of Blackfriars railway bridge (L) the red column from the original bridge and Blackfriars Bridge (R). Photo: Claire Hutton

In 1862-64 — over 20 years before the station was opened — a bridge was built to accommodate four trains at one time. John Wolfe-Barry and HM Brunel built a second bridge to increase the number of trains coming into St Paul's. The columns are the remains of the original bridge, which was removed in 1985 as it was deemed too weak for modern trains. During the station's reconstruction, they were used as platforms for equipment.

5. Green is the new Blackfriars

Blackfriars railway bridge is the world's largest solar-powered bridge. The 4,400 photovoltaic panels on top of the rail bridge produce 900,000kWh, enough to make 80,000 cups of tea a day. Thameslink and Great Northern, which runs the station, expects to produce half the electricity the building requires from these solar panels.

Last Updated 03 January 2017