A ceremony to mark the occasion is being held on platform 19 at 11am this morning to unveil a plaque as well naming one of the brand new South Western Railway class 701 Arterio electric multiple units.
Waterloo station opened by the then London and Southampton Railway on this day Tuesday 11th July 1848 as a ‘roadside station’, supposedly just a stop on the way to a planned for major city terminus that was never realised. This original station, known as ‘central station’, had six platforms.
Waterloo was extended in an ad-hoc way to cope with demand. In 1860 the ‘Windsor station’ was opened on the north-west side of the original central platforms. In 1878 Waterloo gained an additional two platforms on the south-east side for mainline suburban trains in an extension known as the ‘south station’.
It was however a very confusing station for passengers with platforms divided between four different sections of the station, the platform numbering was unclear, four different areas which were classed as concourses along with very poor information displays. In 1899 London & South Western Railway (as the London & Southampton had become) sought permission to completely rebuild and expand the station.
The Company sent its chief engineer J W Jacomb-Hood to America to gather information on termini buildings to assist its redesign. Following the rebuilding work, that took twenty years to fully complete, Waterloo became a spacious station with a large open concourse.
With 21 platforms under a huge ridge-and-furrow roof it became light and airy compared to the dark maze it once was. Widely praised for its architecture, the new curved building to the front of the station housed the LSWR’s offices and facilities for passengers including a large booking hall and upstairs dining room which were simple and elegant with Georgian style panelling in the dining room and Edwardian decoration in the bars.
As the station rebuild was drawing to a close, and as a memorial to their staff that died in the First World War, the LSWR commissioned the Victory Arch; designed by J R Scott, their chief architect and made of Portland stone and bronze it depicts War and Peace, with Britannia holding the torch of liberty above. Leading from Station Approach onto the concourse, the Victory Arch forms the main entrance to Waterloo.
Waterloo remained largely unchanged until early 1990s when platforms 20 and 21 were demolished to make way for Waterloo International. Opened in 1994 this was the terminus for Eurostar services running through the Channel Tunnel until 2007. In July 2012 a first-floor balcony opened at Waterloo to help reduce congestion at the station, additional space has been created by repositioning shops from the middle of the main concourse onto the balcony.
Please Note: The free to view exhibition that opened on the main concourse of Waterloo station at 12.00hrs on Tuesday 11 July has now closed (slightly earlier than planned). It will however return as a permanent fixture in the station later this year.