Wonderpass – how it utilises a bit part from 1863

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1863 is the year the Metropolitan Railway opened. It consisted of four miles and six through stations. Of these just three were truly underground. Gower Street (Euston Square), Portland Road (Great Portland Street) and the more famous Baker Street.
The main entrance was originally at the western end of the station, and this was latterly added by new stairwells at the eastern end of the station for the St John’s Wood extension was built.
The arrangement changed and eventually the one at the eastern end became the main access subway to the station. Part of the eastern layout still exist, much modified of course.

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The south entrance to what is now the Wonderpass. Source DHD Multimedia Gallery

The western end, in fact part of the original built 1863 station, remained a secondary access point until the 1960’s when it was repurposed.
Alterations were made in 1911-13 for a new footbridge at the western end of the Circle line platforms at Baker Street and this shows that parts of the original 1863 stairwells were re-used for this, especially the landings on the north side leading to platform 5 (Circle Line eastbound – the original up line) as well as the stairwells up from the platform itself. The 1913 footbridge leads to Platform 6.
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Original 1863 landing area much modified. Twin stairwells to platforms still on original alignment

Further alterations were made as part of the Marylebone underpass construction in the sixties. The original eastern stairwell and landing area from 1863 to Platform 5 was utilised to form a means of emergency access into the underpass. (The original west side staircase from street level to the intermediate landing would have been where the 1913 footbridge is).
The triangular entrance buildings on the surface (dating from the 1920s) became part of the underpass and the main access to the platforms was now via the newer entrances on either side of Chiltern Court.
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The 1863 landing once extended to meet the street-level stairs – sited where the Wonderpass is

Having said that, the emergency access into the underpass was indeed used as an additional point of exit on occasion during the rush hours until automatic entrance/exit gates were installed in the station’s two main ticket halls.
One of the issues behind identifying the parts of the station that are from the original may lie in the fact different plans were made for Baker Street station. The following show the difference in two of these:
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Baker Street Underground Station. Source: Cultural Tales

The above picture is the most common acknowledged representation of the original Baker St station (as depicted in the Wonderpass). This design of staircase was not used, also they are in a different location to the ones actually built. The natural light shafts depicted are in the roof of the tunnel and not at the sides as seen today.
That below is the more accurate representation of the stairs (I have cleaned it up and marked the stairwell in blue so the different arrangement is more clear).
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Modification of drawing featured at Baker St station to show correct stairwells (in blue)

I have made a drawing to show how the original 1863 stairwell spaces have been used for the 1913 footbridge and the 2016 Wonderpass (aka the former Marylebone Road subway).
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The light blue shaded area is the 1913 footbridge to platform 6 (Circle & Hammersmith westbound) whilst the light red shaded area is the Wonderpass alignment. It is clear these were built on the alignment of the stairwells leading from the landing to street level.
The 1863 landing and stairs to platform 5 are still there of course – much modified!
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Stairs to Platform 5

Part two – The Wonderpass opens!

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