Bermondsey tube celebrates 20 years!

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The Jubilee Line Stratford extension of 1999 was a mixed bag of openings, it wasn’t exactly sequential, thus its probably a good reason why any celebrations for the new route which opened between Green Park and Stratford have been somewhat muted. For example the Canary Wharf to Bermondsey section opened on 17th September 1999, however Canada Water had already opened earlier on 19th August 1999 for the East London Line services thus its celebrations were much earlier!

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The posters at Bermondsey to celebrate its 20th year of Jubilee Line.services.

The other stations too on the extension were already in use for other lines (apart from North Greenwich) so these probably would have not seen the Jubilee anniversary as being particularly significant. West Ham had already celebrated the District Line’s 150th with free gifts and handouts, perhaps that was plenty enough for it!

Naturally any celebrations too would have also depended on each individual station’s staff’s dedication to the matter – and whether they were willing to prepare some posters/decorations and so on.

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Canada Water’s anniversary on the 19th August 2019. Source: Twitter

The London Transport Museum did indeed tweet re Canada Water opening on this particular day in September but that would have just been for the Jubilee services! It didn’t even mention Canada Water had been open at least a month earlier!

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Display of photographs featuring the Surrey Docks. Source: Twitter

In terms of celebrations for the Jubilee Line itself as far as I know it seems just Canada Water and Bermondsey which had really made any effort to make an anniversary of the occasion. Both stations used their local schools to create poster displays commemorating the occasions. In the case of Canada Water it was Albion school and Bermondsey it was St. James school.

People were tweeting about Canary Wharf having opened on 17th September 1999 but there didn’t seem to be anything official happening there, apart from a poster to signify the date. The Jubilee Line’s social media account itself was completely silent. Perhaps the 25th anniversary will be the one that would really get some celebrations going?

Bermondsey’s station’s 20th Anniversary.

Its not the most stupendous of the Jubilee Line stations but at least it marked the occasion of its opening on 17th September 1999 with special posters! Station staff informed me there had a ceremony just after the local school, St. James, had finished for the day – and its pupils came to the station to admire the posters they had helped create and do a photo opportunity for the local media.

Former local MP Simon Hughes tweeted about the anniversary here.

Here are some of my own pictures – and a quick look around the station! Its no eye opener like Westminster or Canary Wharf but at it least has some architectural merits in terms of the tube especially the huge escalator atrium and the fact daylight reaches the platforms.

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One set of the posters created by St. James’ school.

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Another set of the posters created by St. James’ school.

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Passengers reading the notice detailing the station’s 20th anniversary.

Bermondsey station was designed by Ian Ritchie Architects. The design employs both cut and cover and tunnelling methods. The escalator atrium is the cut and cover bit, essentially a station box that allows light to reach down to the platforms.

Bermondsey station does have some features that is unique to the underground. It has stainless steel curved roofs with integral gutters, and specially styled crash barriers to protect the station’s glass fronted areas from vehicle impacts. The rear of the station is quite unique in appearance with its roofs very visible and the curved elements of the building itself, especially the way the escalator lobby curves down into the ground.

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The station’s impressive escalator atrium.

There is another unique aspect to Bermondsey’s station and this is the ventilation shaft and escape facility a couple of blocks to the west in Ben Smith Way. The main roof is actually a grass lawn which slopes gently to the north. Along with the grassed area, there’s a green wall (of sorts) which helps to give a strong sense of nature to the entire site. There’s also a curved roof section for the ventilation shaft, whilst the structure incorporates lock-up garages along its southern side for local residents.

Most of the platform areas dug by tunnelling shields and the styling seen here is in some ways similar to the other Jubilee Line stations westwards (eg London Bridge, Southwark, Waterloo and Westminster.)

Although the other stations mentioned were designed by different architects, all the various stations’ platform areas were a sort of common ground between London Underground and the various architects, the works being under the direction of Roland Paolettil, London Underground’s architect in charge. Bermondsey however has steel panelled platforms walls in deference of the plain tunnel lining seen at the other stations, except Waterloo, whilst the tunnel crown sections are unlined like the rest.

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Looking back up the atrium from platform level.

Bermondsey station is in Zone 2 however its often said it should actually be in Zone one by way of its location. If one compares Westminster bridge and London bridges, there is a huge difference in how the zones actually spread and some say it should be in both zones one and two to satisfy the arguments. For example Kennington is going to be rezoned to Zone 1/2 in order to allow for the new Battersea extension on the Northern Line, yet Bermondsey, which isn’t as far out from Central London as Kennington, continues to be Zone 2!

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There is considerable daylight reaching the station platforms. One can see how the space above the platforms is criss-crossed with these large concrete beams.

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View from the platform area to the bottom of the escalators.

Originally there wasn’t going to be a station here. Simon Hughes, who was the Liberal Democrat MP for the area at the time, insisted a station be built here to serve the very busy Jamaica Road area which has seen a lot of new developments and a substantial increase in the number of people living locally. He also campaigned for a station to be built in the western end of his constituency at Southwark. The Jubilee Line thus gained an extra two stations which have been most beneficial to the areas they serve.

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Its not a brilliant photograph, a very wide angle perspective was used and its a bit wonky, plus it was a very bright day and the dynamic range was enormous – however its a view few actually see because one has to look straight up – it shows how the platform area opens into the escalator atrium.

Quite what will happen to this stupendous space with its natural light coming down to the platforms themselves, I do not know. It was intended Bermondsey’s station building itself would have an oversite development consisting of a four storey block of flats – and no doubt when anything gets built above the station’s footprint this natural light feature will be completely lost.

Its now four years since TfL announced its intention to find a company to develop the oversite part of the station and there hasn’t been any news since! Its possible any prospective developers would really much prefer a bit more potential than just the four storeys being allowed?

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