Ever since the Society was formed, we have endeavoured to arrange an outdoor guided tour each year, visiting locations relevant to the North London Railway, be they “pure” North London or those with which the NLR had associations – of which there were many. The tours provide a valuable opportunity to see and photograph fast-disappearing historic sites at first hand and hear authoritative commentary from our knowledgable members who lead them. A brief record of our tours so far is below with photographs taken at the time, some of which can no longer be taken...
The 2014 is being planned and will probably take place on a weekday in September.
1) "All Stations to Poplar" visiting stations and station remains along the Broad Street to Poplar branch by minibus, a suitable form of flexible transport for the fledgling society.
2) "Ally Pally Walk". A walk along the trackbed of the former Great Northern Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace branch, the Society’s first visit to the Northern Heights lines over which the NLR had running powers.
1) Another “All Stations to Poplar” minibus tour, following the format of the 1991 tour.
2) "Homerton and Stations West". A tour starting at Stratford and using the railway to visit Homerton, Hackney, Canonbury, Highbury and Camden Road stations.
Stratford to Kew Bridge. A tour by rail covering the NLR, HJR and NSWJR. Starting at Stratford, a number of places were visited including Camden Road, Acton Central, South Acton, Bollo Lane signal box, Gunnersbury, Kew Bridge, Hampstead, Dalston Kingsland and Dalston Junction, and Hackney.
The ever popular “All Stations to Poplar” tour, this time in a vintage London Transport RF single deck bus, which allowed a greater number of participants. Every North London station and former station on the Broad Street to Poplar branch was visited, along with other sites of interest such as Poplar docks.
“City Extension Walk”. A tour along the remaining viaduct from Worship Street to Dalston, not at street level but along the top of the viaduct, by arrangement with Hackney Council. Access was also provided to the interior of Shoreditch station, affording a rare view of the booking hall, ticket office and stairs to the platforms.
London and Blackwall Walk. Tracing the NLR’s original route to the City until 1865: from the L&B’s Fenchurch Street station and walking to Limehouse, looking at the remains of various goods stations, the L&B viaduct, Leman Street station, Shadwell, Regents Canal dock and Limehouse; then by DLR to Poplar and Bow stations.
“Passing Old Ford”. A tour by rail from the original City terminus of the L&B’s Fenchurch Street to Richmond, via Limehouse and Stratford (omitting the section between Bow and Victoria Park via Old Ford, where there is no train service). With many diversions, involving much walking, to Bow station, Gas Factory Junction, Camden Road, Primrose Hill, Willesden, South Acton, Bollo Lane crossing, Kew East signal box, Kew Bridge and Barnes curve.
Willesden Junction area. Although not part of the NLR, the area was central to its operations and, despite many changes in recent years, there was plenty to study. The walk covered an area bounded by Kensal Green Junction, Mitre Bridge, Acton Wells and Harlesden, including a walk along part of the Grand Union Canal.
GNR Northern Heights. Studying the former LNER Highgate station and twin tunnels, then by Northern Line to look at East Finchley, Finchley Central, West Finchley, Woodside Park, Totteridge & Whetstone, and High Barnet.
Poplar and Bow. A walk covering these history-rich but fast-changing areas once so important to the NLR, covering Poplar dock, Harrow Lane sidings area and goods office, Poplar station, Bow station, Bow works area, Gas Factory junction.
Stratford to Feltham. A journey on the short-lived Anglia Railways service linking former GER towns on the Colchester main line to Basingstoke, via Stratford and the North London line. This was the only regular passenger service over the old NSWJR between South Action and Old Kew. The tour also took in Richmond, Gunnersbury and Kew East.
Highbury and Islington to Hackney. By train and on foot, studying the stations and junctions, with lunch at Hackney station, now converted to the Hackney Central restaurant and including a tour of the upper storey.
Great Northern. The NLR ran a service from Broad Street to Gordon Hill on the former Great Northern Railway; this tour used the railway to cover the section from Gordon Hill as far as Finsbury Park.
Stratford to North Woolwich. The North London was linked to Stratford and beyond by a connection at Victoria Park, opened by the Eastern Counties Railway as early as 1854, and both companies operated passenger and freight trains over the route. Today, North London Lines trains operated by Silverlink run from Richmond to North Woolwich but the section from Stratford to North Woolwich will be withdrawn later in 2006. The area is rich in history and, with now limited opportunity for a group to travel over this stretch, it was explored in some detail and included a visit to the North Woolwich Old Station Museum.
All Stations to Poplar. Beginning at Bishopsgate, where the East London Line Extension will connect with the original City Extension viaduct, various aspects of the viaduct were looked at as far as Shoreditch. The 1928 Shoreditch station building is now in use as a cafe and bar and it was possible to view the original staircase from ground floor to station level and a tiled walkway. Also visited was Hackney station, the most complete remaining NLR building apart from Camden Road, including the ticket office on the former connecting walkway to Hackney Downs; the remains of Bow station, with the connecting curve to Gas Factory Junction and the extent of the area formerly occupied by Bow Works; the remains of Poplar station; and the NLR dock area.
“Up the Junction”. The Hampstead Junction Railway was a major extension of NLR services, opened in 1860 by the LNWR to reduce congestion near Camden Town. It ran from Camden Road via Gospel Oak, Hampstead Heath, Finchley Road & Frognal and Brondesbury to Willesden (Low Level). The LNWR provided the staff while the NLR provided the rolling stock. West End Lane (now West Hampstead) was opened in 1880. The route is still used for trains to Richmond and our tour looked at the stations on this important section of railway.
“Camden Railway Heritage Trail”. Camden has an industrial heritage rich in features associated with the 19th century and the arrival of the canal and railway. Peter Darley of the Camden Railway Heritage Trust led this fascinating tour, beginning with a detailed look at the interior of the Roundhouse. It covered all the features shown on the Trust’s excellent website (http://www.crht1837.org for full details) including the LNWR Interchange Warehouse and the vaults and arches under the NLR viaduct.
“East London Line Extension” On the 23rd May 2010 the ELLE Phase 1 was opened, bringing into passenger use once more the NLR viaduct from Dalston to Shoreditch which had not seen rail traffic since the closure of Broad Street in 1986. The tour started at the new Dalston Junction station and focused on the new stations of Haggerston, Hoxton and Shoreditch as well as the refurbished East London Line stations north of the Thames. The Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe was visited and members had a then rare opportunity to enter Marc Brunel’s Rotherhithe shaft to the Thames Tunnel, “The Grand Entrance Hall”, closed to the public for over 140 years.
“Round The Horne”. Edwin Henry Horne was the architect for six of the NLR’s most magnificent stations at Bow, Hackney, Barnsbury, Canonbury, Camden Town and Highbury & Islington. Only Hackney and Camden still exist largely unaltered and only Camden is currently still in use as a station. The tour studied these latter two stations as well as the only remaining part of Canonbury – the recently restored station master’s house. The last vestigial remains of Highbury & Islington – a column of brick and Portland stone – was well photographed. A visit to Acton Central was also paid, which although not designed by Horne was very much in his style but on a smaller scale.
“Ally Pally Walk”. The Great Northern Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace branch, once served by NLR trains, was closed in 1954 after the 1935 New Works Scheme to electrify it and incorporate it into the Northern Line was abandoned because of the war and never revived. Now a popular and pleasant public walkway, Parkland Walk, this was one of the Society’s first walks in 1991. Stroud Green station master’s house, Crouch End station platforms, Highgate station with its twin bore tunnels either end and an intact Alexandra Palace station building were the highlights of the tour. The delightful Palace itself, with excellent views over London, was an added bonus to conclude the walk.