A unique piece of railway heritage has been unveiled to passengers at Blackfriars. Fifty four stones from the original Victorian station, each engraved with destinations served by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR), have been preserved in a newly opened area of the Blackfriars concourse. The stones list destinations as diverse as Bickley, Marseille, Gravesend and Venice, as the LCDR advertised Blackfriars’ links to towns and cities of the south east, and the business capitals of Europe via cross-channel steamers.
The restored destination stones are displayed in Blackfriars’ new northern concourse, where First Capital Connect and Southeastern customers are benefitting from a new ticket hall with direct links to the London Underground station next door. Toilets in the new concourse building also opened over the weekend. Escalators to platform level and new shops within the station will open for use over the coming months.
Phil Kirby, Network Rail senior project manager for Blackfriars, said: “The Blackfriars destination stones are a unique piece of railway history. In the age of steam, Blackfriars was a gateway to Europe, with passengers travelling to destinations as far afield as St Petersburg and Frankfurt. We’re currently giving Blackfriars a 21st Century makeover, building on Victorian foundations to create a bigger, more accessible station with a better train service. The boat-train from Blackfriars may not be running any more, but with direct links to St Pancras International, Gatwick and Luton airports, it’s still a pretty good option for the international traveller.”
First Capital Connect customer services director, Keith Jipps, said: “We’re thrilled that one of the original heritage features of Blackfriars station - the destination stones - have been preserved and revealed and complement our new, modern ticket hall which is now open to the public. Thameslink route customers love this evolving station and the new features being completed.”
Passengers have seen massive changes at Blackfriars over recent months as new areas of the station opened for use. In December Blackfriars became the only station in London to span the Thames as a new entrance opened on the south bank of the river. This was followed by a new London Underground station, which opened in February following a three year closure. Since last month 700 extra trains per week have been serving Blackfriars following the opening of two new platforms. The new station will be fully operational by summer 2012, with work complete on all entrances, platforms, lifts and escalators. Work on the bridge reconstruction will continue into the autumn, without any impact on passengers.