Waterloo is the UK’s biggest and busiest station. In 2015/16 there were 99 million entries and exits. With Waterloo East and the Underground it makes it the busiest station in Europe.
During August this year it was subject to several weeks of near closure as the start of some major improvements was made. These are to enable the use of longer trains – ten coaches instead of eight and to bring into normal commuter use the platforms of the former Waterloo International – moved in 2007 to St Pancras. Platforms 1-4 were completely rebuilt to allow for the longer trains – with the various suburban stations having being lengthened over the last two or three years. At the same time, much complex work on the track and signalling coming in and out of Waterloo has had to be undertaken. There is now a further 15 months of work at Waterloo to be completed including building new direct entrances to the Underground from the newly (re)used former International Platforms and the full completion of the return of these “International” platforms into suburban line use.
I have taken snaps of only the area most immediately around Waterloo as well as in the station itself. The farthest I have been from the station for this set of photos is up onto Waterloo Bridge and down Waterloo Road only as far as the Old Vic Theatre.
Fortunately Waterloo Bridge remains one of the great ‘City Views’ of the World – unsullied by the proposed Garden Bridge, which, thank goodness, has now been scrapped – after a substantial waste of public monies.
The variety of views available in such a small area is quite remarkable.
I have taken a few of the Leake Street tunnel under the lines going in to Waterloo. It has become a well known graffiti area and there were artists hard at work when I took my photos. There are also two other photos – both of the rail viaduct that runs onto the Hungerford Bridge across the river going in to Charing cross Station – that show some graffiti – but these are examples of a more political nature. Quite what the Evening Standard had said that led to its being called “Racist Bog Roll” – I do not know – and I see that the same lettering, obviously by the same person, is used on the other graffiti statement of “Do not vote Tory ever”.
To the north of Waterloo is the Shell Centre – which, following a two or three year attempt by just one person to seek a judicial review, is finally being much extended with new swanky towers and offices and it looks to me as though the development will look very good. It was interesting that as I took some of these snaps, one of the ‘gatemen’ to the construction site told me not to take photos – “private property” he said. I pointed out that I was taking photographs on a public road and had therefore no intention of taking notice of him – but I mention it because in recent years this has become something of a problem for photographers, including serious architectural photographers taking pictures for a potential new building. It also sometimes includes news journalists and an organisation called “I’m a Photographer not a Terrorist” campaigns against the increasing actions of representatives, such as security guards, of private owners of major property spaces that appear to be ‘public spaces’ – such as major shopping centres. It is a matter of growing concern, and needs to be completely separated from the concern that might possibly be expressed by an individual against an unwanted personal photo or an unwanted photo of a private dwelling. In part it is caused by the weakness of local authorities in allowing what look like major public spaces to be legally private space and thus potentially subject to private control. If it were to include construction sites being photographed from public highways, it would render vast tracts of London to being photographically out of bounds.
South of the station is Lower Marsh – a street with a market several times a week. It is probably so-called because at one time the area to the south of where Waterloo nowadays is was at one time very marshy ground – all the way down to where the Imperial War Museum stands. I will add a little more about this in a future posting.
Despite not venturing far at all from the station itself, I think you must agree that the variety of views in this small area is indeed very substantial.