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Loughborough Junction’s central block

This page looks at the area to the south of Coldharbour Lane, up to the point where the highest, east-west railway viaduct runs, and between Herne Hill Road in the east and Hinton Road in the west. This forms a street block of sorts, even though it’s bisected by the viaduct that carries the railway between Loughborough Junction and Herne Hill.

 

Coldharbour Lane and Hinton Road are longstanding thoroughfares, appearing in some form on maps from the 1820s onwards. The 3d model images on this page depict Loughborough Junction in the years following 1862 – when the first of the railway viaducts appeared. In that year, the “Loughborough Park Chapel” had also just been built, and along with it the start of what was to become Herne Hill Road.

 

The 1860s and 1870s saw a period of intense development of South London’s railway network and by 1872, three further viaducts crossed this area. A little more detail on the early development of the railways, and the station, is given on the Loughborough Junction Station area page. By the early 1870s Herne Hill Road had established, with houses on both sides, and Coldharbour Lane had transformed in just 10 years from what must have been something like a country lane, to something resembling an urban street. Some portions of land remained undeveloped, in particular the area set back from the streets, around the crossing point of the two main railway viaducts. From around 1880 this area of land was progressively occupied, mainly by the company of F & FH Higgs, building contractors. By 1900 they had established an extensive works area which was a significance presence in the Loughborough Junction of that time.

 

The Loughborough Park Chapel and the Higgs builders’ yard survived in some form until the 1960s or 70s, when the whole of the area bounded by Herne Hill Road and the two main railway viaducts was redeveloped as the Higgs Industrial Estate. This in turn was partly demolished between 2016 and 2018, leaving a large plot of land which as of 2020 remains empty. Planning permission exists for a very large housing development here but construction is yet to begin.

Click on the 3d images below to enlarge them. Click the left and right arrows to see changes through time, or to see different parts of the model highlighted.

More detail

Loughborough Park Chapel

The chapel as depicted in the 1862 version of the 3d model.

Loughborough Park Chapel, sometimes also referred to as Loughborough Park Congregational Church, was built around 1860, in what at the time would have been largely open land – but very soon after, the railway viaduct was built just to its west. It seems that Herne Hill Road did not exist in any form prior to this – the chapel effectively established what became the corner of Coldharbour Lane and Herne Hill Road.

Various additions were made to the chapel over the years – a sunday school building was attached at its south end and was extended several times. The original building had no spire – but one appeared around 1880.

Much of the history of this church is covered in a series of posts on the Loughborough-junction.org site – you can find the first of these here.

The building survived into the 1960s – but so far I have yet to find any clear photos of the whole of its frontage. It is partially visible in various photos from the 1950s, and its spire is in view in several from the early 1900s. In the 1970s the site was redeveloped to become part of the Higgs Industrial Estate – and as it happens the building, dating from then, and sitting on this corner site now houses a church: Sureway Ministries.

The church appears in the upper left of this still from the 1953 film “The Intruder”

The top part of the church building is visible in this extract from a 1954 rooftop level photo taken from the other side of the railway station – the railway platforms are visible in the foreground. Original photo by RC Riley.

 

F & HF Higgs, building contractors

The Higgs works as depicted in the 1903 version of the 3d model. Coldharbour Lane is on the left-hand edge of this image, and Hinton Rd is just out of sight at the bottom.

In 1880, Frederick Higgs established a building contracting business at “Station Works, Hinton Road”. He was later joined by his cousin Henry Frederick Higgs, and the company became know as “F & HF Higgs”. This company is not to be confused with the larger and better known Higgs builders, also very active in London at the time – although there was a family connection between the two.

The company initially occupied a site accessed from Hinton Road, just to the north of the crossing point of the two main railway viaducts. The entrance to the site is visible in the photo below.

Looking south along Hinton Road around 1910. The entrance to the Higgs yard is on the left. Photo from Lambeth Archives.

By 1903, F & HF Higgs also occupied a large area of land to the east of the railway viaduct. An OS map from 1895 suggests they may already have occupied some of this land at that point in time. The Goad insurance map of 1903 provides quite a lot of detail on what the various parts of the site were used for – timber storage, timber workings, stone sawing, metalwork and so on. Storage space was provided on a number of elevated platforms and stages. Two steam boilers are shown, which would have driven various items of machinery prior to electrical power becoming commonplace.

An extract from the 1903 Goad Insurance map, showing the extent of F & FH Higgs’ works.

The site also featured two quite large “Scotch Derricks” – a type of crane common at the time, and these must have been a prominent part of Loughborough Junction’s skyline for many decades. They are still visible in photos from the 1950s and 60s.

Another long-distance view from the other side of the station in 1954 – some of the Higgs buildings, and the two “Scotch Derrick” cranes, can be seen beyond the railway platforms and station buildings. A train is crossing the high-level viaduct in the background – this defined the southern extent of the Higgs works. Original photo by RC Riley.

The area to the east of the viaduct was connected to the original smaller site on the other side via the railway arches, but had its own access from Coldharbour Lane – via a narrow alley alongside the viaduct. This entrance is visible in the photo below – and was directly opposite what is now the entrance to the railway station.

Looking into the Higgs works from Coldharbour Lane, around 1908. The first building on the left is labelled as a “Mortar Mill” on the Goad map, and one of the two scotch derrick cranes can be seen behind it. On the right is the railway viaduct. This view is taken from close to the current railway station entrance. Photo from the LCC Photograph Library, London Metropolitan Archives, available to view here.

 

209-223 Coldharbour Lane

No. 209 Coldharbour Lane, here on the corner to the right of the alleyway alongside the railway viaduct, as depicted in the 1885 version of the 3d model. To its right is no. 211-213, and then the original terrace that ran as far as the Hinton Road corner.

209 Coldharbour Lane sits on the corner of Coldharbour Lane and the alleyway that runs southwards along the east side of the railway viaduct – today this alleyway leads to the Sunshine Arts Cafe. Photographs of this building around 1908 show it is in use as “The Imperial Stores” with an impressive array of signage on its facade. This building still exists today, but with all traces of the earlier shopfront obliterated. The building immediately to its right (no. 211-123) also survives today, including a panel on its facade that records its construction date of 1879.

No. 209 Coldharbour Lane in 1908 and today. Photo from the LCC Photograph Library, London Metropolitan Archives, available to view here.

To the east of no. 211-213, nos 215-223 were built as a terrace stretching as far as the corner with Hinton Road. They appear to have been built in the early 1860s and therefore formed one of Loughbrough Junction’s earliest urban terraces – but did not survive a WW2 bomb. They were replaced with mainly low rise industrial buildings after the war, at which point the street seems to have been widened somewhat at this junction.

This view is looking along Coldharbour Lane around 1905, with Hinton Rd leading off to the right just out of frame. The terrace visible on the right (215-223 Coldharbour Lane) was destroyed by a WW2 bomb. Photo from Lambeth Archives.