Fenchurch Street station, London EC3

“…Fenchurch Street did, however, have one innovation – the world’s
first station bookstall, run by William Marshall whose newspaper
distribution company would later come to rival W.H. Smith. The
station was greatly expanded and improved when the London
& Blackwall started sharing it with the much larger London,
Tilbury & Southend Railway. The latter was a joint venture with
the Eastern Counties that began operating when the completely
rebuilt station opened on 13 April 1854.

The station was designed by George Berkeley, the chief engineer
of the London, Tilbury & Southend, rather than by an architect. It
is praised by Betjeman as a good example of the engineer-architect
tradition that, as he points out, a couple of decades later produced
the Royal Albert Hall. The façade, which survives virtually
unchanged to this day, is of grey bricks with stone adornments but
the most pleasant section was at the first-floor level where there
are eleven arched windows topped by a crescent-shaped pediment
with the ubiquitous clock in the middle. There was originally a flat canopy at the front, but it soon collapsed and was replaced
by a zig- zag shaped awning, which Betjeman felt, ‘besides being
efficient, has fairground charm’.

The train shed had a crescent-shaped roof made of iron but
which let in some light in glazed sections. The booking hall at
street level was divided into two, one for each of the two railways
From there, passengers climbed an ornate staircase to a first-floor
concourse with arched windows and a roof that allowed in light
during the day but was very gloomy at night. Tucked away in a
rather hidden part of the City, Fenchurch Street has always been
the least known of London’s terminuses and uniquely, even today,
it has no connection with the Underground, the nearest station
being Tower Hill, a few minutes’ walk away. Equally oddly, the
station is actually located in London Street and Fenchurch Place,
a small road specifically constructed to serve the station, whereas
Fenchurch Street itself runs about 165 feet north-west of the station.”

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