The first railway to arrive in the area was a line running from Herne Hill to what is now Blackfriars and the city. The viaduct that carried this line was completed around 1862 and initially carried two tracks. This established the location of the first bridge across Coldharbour Lane – right where the current entrance to the station is. At this point, the surrounding land was largely undeveloped, and no station was built.
Very soon after, around 1863, another viaduct appeared. This diverged from the first viaduct at what became known as Loughborough Junction. This line headed in a curve, towards Brixton instead of Herne Hill, and established the bridge across what is now Loughborough Road. Soon after trains started operating on this line, a station was built – known as “Loughborough Road”. This station is visible in the 1864 and 1870 views at right. The platform for trains towards the city was accessed by a stairway on the north side of the viaduct, close to Loughborough Road. Close to the corner of Loughborough Road and what is now Rathgar Road, a brick structure contained the main station entrance and a stairway up to the platform for trains towards Brixton.
Development was proceeding at a rapid pace at this time, and around 1866 the line between Herne Hill and the City was quadrupled – doubling the width of the viaduct. This enlarged viaduct is first visible in the 1870 views and is the one that still exists today.
Around 1872, the original “Loughborough Road” station was greatly enlarged, and at the same time a new curved viaduct was built (necessitating some demolition on Flaxman Road), carrying a line towards Denmark Hill. This resulted in a seven platform complex, able to accommodate trains travelling on all three of the routes now converging at this point.
In the late 1860s and in the 1870s there was a great deal of development in the area, and by 1900 this had become a fully urban location. The land immediately around the station became very densely packed with buildings, with appearance of Station Avenue, and “Loughborough Hall” being crammed into the other triangular portion of land created by the diverging viaducts. It is sometimes assumed that “Loughborough Hall” was originally the station building, but this is not the case: the entrance to the station was at the end of Station Avenue, and Rathgar Road.
In 1916 the platforms on the line towards Brixton were closed, and in 1925 the platforms on the line towards Denmark Hill were closed. This left the station in the somewhat reduced form it takes today – with the only active platforms being the ones on the main line towards Herne Hill.
To view the 3d images below, click the left and right arrows to see changes through time, or to see different parts of the model highlighted. Click on the images themselves to enlarge to full screen.
Looking down from above Coldharbour Lane.
The station area viewed from the north. The original, “Loughborough Road” station can be seen appearing on the nearest viaduct around 1864. The various railway lines converge towards the left of this view, heading for Elephant & Castle and the City.
Flaxman Road – which did not exist until some time in the late 1860s – in the foreground. Note that some of the houses on the street are demolished within about ten years of their construction to make way for the additional viaduct that curves round towards Denmark Hill.
The Flaxman Road demolition
Flaxman Road appears on maps around 1870, whereas maps in the 1860s show that land undeveloped. The enlarged station, including the new curved viaduct towards Denmark Hill was built around 1872. As can be seen in the maps below, as well as the model images at the top of this page, the construction of that viaduct involved the demolition of some houses at the southern end of Flaxman Road. Given the dates, this suggests these houses were less than ten years old when they were knocked down. This is an illustration of the pace at which development was taking place at that time. Presumably the plan to construct the additional viaduct must have evolved in only a few years, and the purchase of the land with newly constructed houses must have come at some expense to the railway company.
Once that viaduct had been built, the remaining triangle of land at the end of Flaxman Road was filled with a row of small, awkwardly shaped houses that are mostly still there today.
The “real” Loughborough House, owned by Henry Hastings, the first Baron Loughborough, from where the name of the area originates, was located somewhat north of Loughborough Junction and pulled down in the 1850s (see articles here and here).
But until around 2014, the building at 202 Coldharbour Lane claimed the ‘Loughborough House’ title for itself. This was a distinctive building, opposite the end of Herne Hill Road and unlike most buildings in the area presenting a gabled frontage to the street.
Sadly, in 2014 this building was subject to alterations which completely obliterated its unusual facade, including the lettering and roof gable.
Visible in the 1870 OS map extract above is a large house on the western corner of Flaxman Road and Coldharbour Lane. In the 1894 map it might appear that it has been completely demolished for the railway viaduct and bridge – however, a close look at its position reveals that only part of the building had to be removed to allow the viaduct to be built. It seems very likely that the ‘Loughborough House’ visible until recently was the remaining portion of that building – half of it having been removed for the railway, and this is how I have depicted it in the model. The form of the roof prior to the 2014 alteration appears to support the idea that the building originally continued further eastwards.
Immediately behind the ‘Loughborough House’ building is a building labelled on the 1894 map as ‘Loughborough Hall’, which seems to have been built in the 1870s around the same time as the enlarged station. As discussed on the Loughborough Junction station in 1903 page, it is tempting to assume this was once the station building, but it almost certainly was not. It would seem it was used by the Salvation Army early in its history, as discussed here. During the 20th century its uses included a factory for Snopake correction fluid as evidenced by the sign still on its side visible from the station. Today it is used as a church.
Station Avenue and Station Road
In fact the station entrance, from 1872 until it was moved to its current location, was at the end of Rathgar Road (see the the Loughborough Junction station in 1903 page for more detail on this).
The station would therefore have been accessed via Station Avenue. The 1903 insurance map shows this street lined with small shops, factories and restaurants. It also labels the parallel alleyway alongside the main viaduct as “Station Road”.
Station Avenue retains that name today, but “Station Road” no longer provides a through route, having been built upon partway along its length.
The original ‘Loughborough Road’ station entrance
Before its rebuild in the early 1870s, the train station existed as “Loughborough Road” with a platform on each side of the viaduct running alongside Rathgar Road. It can be seen in the 1864 and 1870 versions of the model in the main images at the top of this page. The platform on the north side of the viaduct was accessed via a pathway that ran from Loughborough Road, along the side of the viaduct, to a set of stairs. The platform on the south side – sitting above Rathgar Road – seems to have been accessed via a stairway contained in a brick building near to the Rathgar Rd / Coldharbour Lane corner. This building was part of the same structure that formed the brick built colonnade which supported the platform. Some photos from the 1920s show this colonnade in a partially demolished state. Part of the stairway building is just visible in those images, as well as some photos taken from Coldharbour Lane. It’s likely that this building also housed the original ticket office and main entrance to the station.
When the station was enlarged and rebuilt, this old entrance and stairway was replaced by the new one at the far end of Rathgar Road. It would then have become redundant, but the structure seems to have survived until 1950 at least – it is visible in some post-war aerial photographs.