Bricklayers' Arms is a busy road intersection between A2 and the London Inner Ring Road in south London, England. It is the junction of Tower Bridge Road, Old Kent Road, New Kent Road and Great Dover Street; Old Kent Road and New Kent Road east-bound are connected by a flyover.
Victorian coaching innEdit
There have been inns situated at this site for more than six hundred years, and excavations during the rebuilding of the inn in the 1890s came across several previous foundations and a hidden hoard of ancient coins. It was the point at which coaches travelling along the Old Kent Road to or from the City of London set down or picked up passengers travelling to or from the West End. The inn was situated on land owned by the City of London Corporation and its sign was the Coat of Arms of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers.
Bricklayers' Arms FlyoverEdit
A flyover of the Bricklayers' Arms roundabout was built in the 1970s to cope with the increase in traffic in the area. Initially it consisted of two lanes for traffic, one into and one out of London; however, the London-bound lane was later closed after a number of head-on collisions on the flyover, which was hence reduced to east bound only route.
In the 1970s there was a plan by the Greater London Council for a road to go between the Bricklayers Arms roundabout and the northern entrance of the Blackwall Tunnel, crossing the Thames in two tunnels (one adjacent to Tower Bridge and providing a link to London Docklands.
The rather over generous proportions of the roundabout which includes pedestrian underpasses from the adjacent roads onto it was a result of London Underground route safeguarding for future proposals of an extension of the Bakerloo Line from its terminus at Elephant and Castle Tube Station along and under the main road route and thence underneath the trackways of the old main line station to join surface services at South Bermondsey station. The roundabout would have been the site of a station, similar in layout to that at Old Street. The route is still safeguarded but has no prominence in current proposals. The pedestrian underpasses were not attractive and involved quite circuitous walks via the island, surfacing and descending again to the various entrances; in 2009 these were supplemented by Pelican Crossings at the junctions with New Kent and Old Kent Roads, introduced because pedestrians preferring to cross there were causing more accidents. In 2013 the underpasses were filled in and levelled becoming wider pavements at these points.
Bricklayers' Arms branchEdit
The line it's selfEdit
The line was one mile and 56 chains (2.7 km) in length and was constructed in 1843–4 as a result of concerns by the South Eastern (SER) and London and Croydon (L&CR) railways about the charges being imposed by the London and Greenwich Railway (L&GR) for the use of their terminus at London Bridge and its approaches. The two railways constructed a new passenger terminus and goods station on the site, thereby removing the need for them to use the Greenwich Railway facilities. According to Charles Vignoles, 'the making of Bricklayers' Arms station was a matter of compulsion in driving the Greenwich people to reasonable terms'. It had the desired effect and the L&GR agreed to more reasonable terms, as a result the L&CR ceased using the station in March 1845.
Plans to extend the line from Bricklayers' Arms to a new South Eastern Railway terminus at Hungerford Bridge, closer to the centre of London were never implemented. The railway introduced a proposal to extend the line to Waterloo Road in 1846 which was rejected by a committee of Parliament. In 1846 L&C became part of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) and the SER had leased the L&G line the previous year; future passenger developments were at London Bridge.
As part of a series of agreements of 1848 and 1849, the LB&SCR sold its inherited share of the facilities to the SER in the latter year whilst retaining the right to use the branch and to construct its own 15-acre (61,000 m2) goods depot on the site for an annual rent of one shilling (£0.05).
In the early 1890s the SER again proposed building an extension of the branch, but this time to Charing Cross and thence to Cannon Street but the plan was deferred about 1894, and was not later proceeded with by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Management Committee.
The line is historically significant as it was the first in the world to be controlled by a signal box. The signals and points installed by Charles Hutton Gregory and were the first to contain some elements of interlocking. A boiler explosion by a SER locomotive on 11 December 1844 caused a bridge collapse and killed two staff.
Railway facilities and viaductEdit
Adjacent to Bricklayers' Arms was a 26-acre (110,000 m2) site, connected to the main line between London Bridge and Croydon which was formerly of considerable importance to the history of railways in south London.
There was a major group of sidings and a few work sheds just north west of the Bricklayer's Arms Junction that broke of the branch line of the mainline between 1945 and 1975. A refueling and re-watering siding was built in 1880, but was an ordinary siding by 1900.
A signal box was built at the junction in 1950. Region Re-signalling of the London to Brighton Line which occurred between 1950 to 1955 which lead to the signal box being modified.
It was updated on the 13th of April 1969 and closed on the 20th of July 1975. London Bridge signalling center would take over it's duties on closure.
Bricklayers Arms Junction ( New Cross Gate) saw a crash on the 11th of September, 1975.
The terminus building was designed by Lewis Cubitt with an imposing facade resembling his later design of King's Cross railway station, and costing £89,000. From 1844 the SER transferred all of its services to this new terminus, whilst the L&CR operated services from both termini. As mentioned above the L&CR ceased using the station in 1845 although its successor (the LB&SCR) retained running powers over the branch.
The station was never commercially viable as a passenger terminus due to its location in a poor working-class neighbourhood on the Old Kent Road and its distance from the centre of London. Also its raison d'etre largely disappeared after the South Eastern Railway took over the operation of the London and Greenwich Railway in 1845. A shunting accident during August 1850 caused the collapse of a large part of the station roof, killing a porter. The SER therefore closed Bricklayers' Arms terminus for passenger traffic in 1852 and transferred all of its services back to London Bridge railway station. Thereafter it was occasionally used for special trains, such as a Royal train carrying Queen Alexandra on 3 March 1863. It was also used for passenger excursions trains from 1932 until circa 1940, and occasional enthusiasts' specials until closure of the line in 1981.
The Beeching Axe of the 1960s closed many obsolete rail facilities, which lead to the little used station's slating for closure by circa 1970.
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