post-war London Tramways question

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BritSilverFox

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I still have this memory of a tram tunnel under the Thames, around Charing Cross station, FROM the Embankment south to 'near' Royal Festival Hall. This must've been around '52-'62. My late Dad worked at Shell-Mex House & when he would take me to the office, & we'd sit on the Embankment to eat our sandwiches, we'd take this tram. I distinctly remember the cris-cross grills t the entrances.
Am i dreaming ?? or was there one such route at that time ??
 
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John Webb

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The last trams in London were taken out of service in July 1952; I have a 'Last Week of the Trams' ticket from when my mother took me for a last ride on a tram before they went!

I just wonder if the OP is getting memories of trains running in and out of Charing Cross station on Hungerford bridge over the river? The bridge had high girders with a trellis-like appearance and would be very easy to see from Shell-Mex house. View of it here (click on picture to go to the larger original):
Hungerford Bridge

© Copyright Ron Hann and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
The bridge has since been modified to give two larger pedestrian walkways adjacent to it.
 

steamybrian

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The tram tunnel used until 1952 ran from the Embankment (under Charing Cross station/Hungerford Bridge) to Holborn Kingsway.
Part of the abandoned tunnel route can easily be seen descending from the centre of Southampton Row (Holborn). Part of the tunnel was used for a road underpass from Waterloo Bridge to Holborn Kingsway.
 
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John Webb

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The tram tunnel used until 1952 ran from the Embankment (under Charing Cross station/Hungerford Bridge) to Holborn Kingsway.
Part of the abandoned tunnel route can easily be seen descending from the centre of Southampton Row (Holborn). Part of the tunnel was used for a road underpass from Waterloo Bridge to Holborn Kingsway.
The Kingsway tunnel was closed in April 1952; the last trams in service in London ran on July 5th, terminating at New Cross. Most trams ended up being demolished on a site near Penhall Road in Charlton. I can vaguely recollect seeing rows of trams there awaiting destruction when passing on a bus.
 

tbwbear

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The tram tunnel used until 1952 ran from the Embankment (under Charing Cross station/Hungerford Bridge) to Holborn Kingsway.
Part of the abandoned tunnel route can easily be seen descending from the centre of Southampton Row (Holborn). Part of the tunnel was used for a road underpass from Waterloo Bridge to Holborn Kingsway.

The Southern portal of the tunnel was on the Embankment under Waterloo Bridge I think. There are (or were) still doors there. The road underpass from the bridge must start just north of this point and then slope down to the old tunnel. The trams exited the tunnel and then ran along the Embankment passing Charing Cross Station under Hungerford Bridge didn't they?
 

steamybrian

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I agree with tbwbear above.
I attach scan of Trolleybus and Tram map of 1947 of Central London showing the route. On the map the dashed lines are tram routes and trolleybus routes bold red lines
 

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Bald Rick

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And here is a picture of the south entrance to the Kingsway tunnel under the north side of Waterloo Bridge under construction in 1908.

(From the excellent “Moving Metropolis” Edited by Sheila Taylor).
 

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swt_passenger

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The Southern portal of the tunnel was on the Embankment under Waterloo Bridge I think. There are (or were) still doors there. The road underpass from the bridge must start just north of this point and then slope down to the old tunnel. The trams exited the tunnel and then ran along the Embankment passing Charing Cross Station under Hungerford Bridge didn't they?
The doors lasted until about 15 years ago, then there was a conversion done to build a restaurant in the void. But I think the restaurant doors and windows and ventilation grilles above effectively take up the same area as before.

What I had wondered about, is how tight the bend for the trams must have been, and how much clearance there would have been under the arch of the modern bridge. Seems a bit low for a double decker tram. I guess the tram tracks were well over towards the river side of the embankment as built?
 
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Dstock7080

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What I had wondered about, is how tight the bend for the trams must have been, and how much clearance there would have been under the arch of the modern bridge. Seems a bit low for a double decker tram. I guess the tram tracks were well over towards the river side of the embankment as built?
https://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/collections/collections-online/photographs/item/1998-53285
double-deck emerging from under Waterloo bridge

https://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/collections/collections-online/photographs/item/1998-53309
double-deck emerging from new portal
 

Snow1964

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Waterloo bridge was rebuilt in 1930s (building continued until about 1942 during the war) and the side span over the Embankment straddles the tram tunnel.

Presumably the old bridge was somehow dismantled even though it was over the tram tracks at Embankment (I think one of the bridge piers was unstable which is why it was replaced)
 

swt_passenger

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Waterloo bridge was rebuilt in 1930s (building continued until about 1942 during the war) and the side span over the Embankment straddles the tram tunnel.

Presumably the old bridge was somehow dismantled even though it was over the tram tracks at Embankment (I think one of the bridge piers was unstable which is why it was replaced)
The earlier bridge was narrower, and its centreline was further downstream than the current bridge, so the old tram tunnel entrance wasn’t under the bridge at all, as Bald Rick’s photo, and the second photo in DStock7080’s post show. So they‘d presumably have been able to dismantle the old bridge by only closing the tram lines heading along the embankment in the downstream direction. Trams from the tunnel heading west shouldnt have been affected?
 

Dr_Paul

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The earlier bridge was narrower, and its centreline was further downstream than the current bridge, so the old tram tunnel entrance wasn’t under the bridge at all, as Bald Rick’s photo, and the second photo in DStock7080’s post show.
This map shows the old bridge, with the tunnel entrance upstream; and this one shows the new bridge, with the tunnel entrance underneath.
 

swt_passenger

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This map shows the old bridge, with the tunnel entrance upstream; and this one shows the new bridge, with the tunnel entrance underneath.
Yes, they’re what I used to confirm my supposition about the bridge width. The building line along the west side of what is now Lancaster Place has altered over the years as well.
 

341o2

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Mentioning clearances, trams in the central area used the conduit system - no overhead wires. Originally it was planned to run trolleybuses through the subway and an experimental vehicle was built. However,in 1944, LT announced that there would be no further tram to trolleybus conversions, the remaining trams to be directly replaced by diesel buses
 

Taunton

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The old entrance on The Embankment has had various uses even in the period I've been in London, but is currently a supposedly-stylish cabaret club called Proud Embankment. Their website has a photo-set inside the premises :

https://proudcabaret.com/pages/embankment

They certainly seem to have done a substantial refit (again). It was a different restaurant for a few years previously.

The tram tracks on The Embankment were on the river side, on a tram reservation, not in the road, where the westbound road carriageway now is; the road itself was narrower in those times, all on the current eastbound side, and was not the significant through route it is now. Notably it has never had a mainstream bus service along it, since the trams went.
 

Snow1964

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The old entrance on The Embankment has had various uses even in the period I've been in London, but is currently a supposedly-stylish cabaret club called Proud Embankment. Their website has a photo-set inside the premises :

https://proudcabaret.com/pages/embankment

They certainly seem to have done a substantial refit (again). It was a different restaurant for a few years previously.

The tram tracks on The Embankment were on the river side, on a tram reservation, not in the road, where the westbound road carriageway now is; the road itself was narrower in those times, all on the current eastbound side, and was not the significant through route it is now. Notably it has never had a mainstream bus service along it, since the trams went.

In last few years the road has been narrowed again an a cycle route built where the trams used to run.

The two traffic lanes each way from Westminster bridge to beyond Limehouse making it an easy through route has gone, it’s now painfully slow to drive due to vast number of traffic lights which appear to be timed to deliberately go red as traffic approaches from previous traffic light.
 

tbwbear

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From the old maps it looks as it the tracks also went east from Waterloo towards Blackfriars. So a line along the Embankment from Westminster to Blackfriars.

Was the junction with the tram subway, for some or all of the life of the subway, just west facing or was it triangular ?

IOW - did the trans ever emerge and turn East ?
 

swt_passenger

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From the old maps it looks as it the tracks also went east from Waterloo towards Blackfriars. So a line along the Embankment from Westminster to Blackfriars.

Was the junction with the tram subway, for some or all of the life of the subway, just west facing or was it triangular ?

IOW - did the trans ever emerge and turn East ?
Yes - a triangular junction is shown in both the photo @Bald Rick posted yesterday, as well as on the first of the maps @Dr_Paul posted last night. However that only means it existed, it doesn’t necessarily mean there were services...
 
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Snow1964

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Yes - a triangular junction is shown in both the photo @Bald Rick posted yesterday, as well as on the first of the maps @Dr_Paul posted last night.

Not sure if going East was a regular route.
Just checked a book with a 1934 listing, tunnel routes were 31 (Wandsworth-Hackney), 33 (West Norwood-Manor House), 35 (Forest Hill-Archway), which all went over Westminster bridge.

Routes 55, 65, 81 terminated at Bloomsbury (north end of tunnel)

Routes 2, 2A, 14, 16, 22, 26, 38, 56, 66, went Eastbound on Embankment, Routes 4, 4A, 16, 18, 24, 26, 36, 66, 84 went Westbound from Blackfriars bridge towards Westminster bridge
 

Busaholic

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The old entrance on The Embankment has had various uses even in the period I've been in London, but is currently a supposedly-stylish cabaret club called Proud Embankment. Their website has a photo-set inside the premises :

https://proudcabaret.com/pages/embankment

They certainly seem to have done a substantial refit (again). It was a different restaurant for a few years previously.

The tram tracks on The Embankment were on the river side, on a tram reservation, not in the road, where the westbound road carriageway now is; the road itself was narrower in those times, all on the current eastbound side, and was not the significant through route it is now. Notably it has never had a mainstream bus service along it, since the trams went.
You're not quite correct in saying that no mainstream bus routes replaced the trams on the Victoria Embankment. From South London routes 109, 177, 184 and 155 at least continued two-way service via Westminster and Blackfriars Bridges (or vice versa) for many years afterwards,plus the 168 and 170 which continued the north (north east in the case of the 170) to southwest London axis: there are probably others I don't immediately remember. Charing Cross L.T. Station (i.e. the one now known as Embankment Station) was also the terminus of the bulk of the Night Bus Network into the 1980s, mostly based on old night tram routes, and mostly serving S, SE and SW London: I spent (or misspent) many bleary-eyed early morning hours waiting for the comfort(!) of an RT on the N85 to appear.
 

Dstock7080

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A hidden underground tram station in the centre of London, which stood in as the Avengers HQ on the big screen, is to open to the public for the first time since its closure almost 70 years ago.

People will be able to tour the platforms and halls of the Kingsway station, which allowed passengers on doubledecker trams to interchange between the once-comprehensive networks north and south of the Thames. which closed after the Second World War.

Tickets on sale 9 July:
Date(s)
This is a recurring event:
Repeats Weekly on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 11:00 until Sunday 26 September 2021
Repeats Weekly on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 12:30 until Sunday 26 September 2021
Repeats Weekly on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 15:15 until Sunday 26 September 2021
Repeats Weekly on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 16:45 until Sunday 26 September 2021

£45.
 
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jumble

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The article claims the public have not been allowed in the tunnel for 70 years which is a complete fabrication
St Martins art college had an exhibition in 2009 which I attended and it has been a feature of London Open House before

Beneath the streets of Holborn, something is growing in the Kingsway tram tunnel.

The usually padlocked doors at the tunnel's Southampton Row entrance, which last saw tram traffic when a young Queen Elizabeth II had been on the throne for just a few months, have been thrown open to welcome visitors for Chord, a month-long art installation by Conrad Shawcross.

Led in by a flourescent bib-wearing guide, we descended the surprisingly steep ramp and into the tunnel itself, passing fake posters and non-existent Tube station roundels left from a recent film project. As we penetrated the murky gloom en route to Aldwych, passing by the remnants of the Kingsway station platform, a curious contraption finally hoved into view.

As a fairly unusual site-specific installation Chord is the kind of folly that a writer could trip over in trying to describe, whereas it's much easier to comprehend in situ, so we'll avoid trying to capture what's going on in prose and refer you instead to the pictures. But really, the best thing to do is not look at the images at all and just get down there yourself to see it. A series of Heath Robinson-inspired pulleys and ropes stretched along a section of track, Chord is, according to exhibition blurb, "concerned with the human perception of time, as both a linear and cyclical notion", and the constant motion of the piece means it expands through space at a rate of five metres per day. We're intrigued to see how large it will grow by the show's end.

Art aside, this is of course a rare chance to visit the Kingsway tram tunnel, and despite the brevity of the half-hour guided tours this is an opportunity that transport buffs, professional nostalgists, amateur spelunkers and the plain curious will not want to miss.


Chord is open from October 8th until 8th November. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance.

Last Updated 07 October 2009
 
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