London rail stations' bygone Xmases

Every year our railway stations have xmas trees (or Eiffel Towers if they so wish!) But what were those decorations in these stations past Christmases like? Austere. Boring? I think you’ll find things were often far bigger than what can be seen nowadays… We start with a major London terminus that no longer exists, excepting some remains that still stand at the junction of Great Eastern, Commercial and Shoreditch High Streets.

Some stations sadly didn’t appear to have any old time Xmas pictures (eg 1900 to 1960s) which means the London termini featured here isn’t fully complete. I have done the best that can be done and of course Paddington wins in terms of Christmassy views from the past! Clearly the GWR had a different approach to the festive season, by having huge decorations and possibly seeing this as a means of generating more rail traffic/extra revenue.


Bishopsgate at Xmas in December 1850. This was the London terminus for the Eastern Counties Railway and later replaced by Liverpool Street. Source: Twitter

Cannon Street

Cannon Street station, 1934, featuring a special xmas message from Bexhill. Source: Twitter


Xmas at Euston station in 1855. Pic from The Illustrated London News. Source: Twitter

Euston in 1911 with staff sorting the huge amounts of extra Christmas deliveries. Source: Huffington Post

World War One soldiers enjoying a free xmas buffet at Euston in 1917. Source: Twitter

Euston in the 1930s. This is the station’s main entrance foyer where the taxis dropped their fares. Source: Twitter

Railway chefs with their prize Christmas puddings at Euston in 1935. Source: Mail

Euston in 1937. This is the small concourse leading on to the main platforms. Source: Twitter

Euston, again in 1937. The little girl is probably asking the locomotive crew whether they see the tree as a precious gift or simply a bit of firewood for the locomotive! Who knows! Source: Twitter

Santa arrives at Euston, Xmas 1939. Source: Mail

Soldiers on Xmas leave at Euston, 1943. Source: PicClick

Putting up the decorations at Euston, 1949. Source: Twitter

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Catering staff at Euston gather the Xmas toys they have collected for Great Ormond Street hospital in December 1953. Source: Gettys

The Great Hall at Euston at Xmas time, 1954. (Could be 1955 see below.) The trees had presents on them for the children. Source: Twitter

Euston during Xmas 1955 (date is printed on back.) Source: PicClick

Fenchurch Street

London Tilbury & Southend Xmas train arrangements showing alterations for trains to and from Fenchurch Street, 1939. Source: PicClick

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Harold Mackintosh, 1st Viscount Mackintosh of Halifax presents British Rail fireman Frank Whitehouse with a Christmas hamper at Fenchurch Street 20th December 1960. Whitehouse was the millionth winner of the Premium Bond prize draw. Source: Gettys

King’s Cross

Xmas rail posters from the Great Northern at King’s Cross, 1908. Source: Twitter

A chef at King’s Cross station preparing the Xmas pudding. Prob 1920s/30s. Source: Twitter

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Loading Xmas parcels on to a truck at King’s Cross, 1932. Source: Gettys

Waiting for Christmas at King’s Cross, 1933. Source: Twitter

Loads of Xmas parcels waiting on the platform at Kings Cross, December 1960, to be loaded onto vans and delivered around London. Note the Class 31 – very new in those days. Source: Twitter

King’s Cross, again in 1960. Probably a different view of the same pile seen in the previous photo? Source: Twitter

Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street Xmas Eve 1930. The picture depicts the future King George 6th, they were at the time the Duke and Duchess of York (centre of picture.) Source: Twitter

A lady’s Christmas bonanza being carried by the station page boys! Liverpool Street 1933. Source: Twitter

Liverpool Street’s station master and Santa see their cherished chef off on a train at Xmas in 1965. Source: Mail

Sources say the above picture was taken in the 1930s but its actually 1965! The train in use is a class 305 used for the Chingford/Enfield/Southbury loop. Further research revealed the chef travelled on the train to Turkey Street where he distributed to waiting passengers and schoolchildren the turkey he had cooked!

London Bridge

London Bridge station inundated with parcels, 1928. Source: Twitter


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Distributing parcels at Paddington station at Xmas 1910. Source: Gettys

The above image is possibly the 20th December as the newspapers are announcing the election results in what was one of the few December elections to take place in the UK – especially as we had one of those rare events a couple of weeks ago!

Xmas mail at Paddington 1922. Source: BBC News

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Carrying a giant candle along the platform at Paddington station! Prob 1920s. Source: Gettys

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Paddington station at the start of the Xmas rush December 1930. Source: Gettys

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Poultry from Ireland delivered to Paddington just a few days before Xmas, 1932. Source: Gettys

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Paddington goes ‘gay’ at Xmas 1933 (gay being used in the old sense here!) Source: Gettys

Christmas at Paddington 1934. Source: Twitter

The above picture is interesting because it shows the former subway between the various platforms. The subway can also be part seen two images back. It still exists but is no longer in use. I don’t remember it in use during the sixties thus it must have been closed by then. A video of it can be seen here.

Xmas at Paddington in 1935. Its the GWR anniversary but not the arrival of the line in London in 1838. Rather its the incorporation of the GWR by an act of parliament in 1835. Source: Twitter

A view of this looking in the opposite direction (away from the train platforms) was procured by the National Railway Museum…

That Father Xmas at Paddington again! Source: Twitter

One might think that Schweppes advert was in fact part of the Christmas decorations. It wasnt! Here’s the same spot in December 1934…

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Paddington Station Christmas 1934 – just before any decorations were put up. Source: Gettys

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The start of Xmas at Paddington in 1936 with the opening of a gifts kiosk. Railway dolls (representing GWR staff) are on sale. Source: Gettys

Paddington station in 1936 with staff bringing out the bells! Source; Twitter

Kissing under the mistletoe on a train at Paddington, Xmas 1936. Source: Twitter

Paddington again! Looking across The Lawn eastwards. Source: Twitter

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Children look forward to Xmas at Paddington station, as they wait to catch their train. 1955. Source: Gettys

1956 at Paddington. Looks very different! Source: Wikipedia


After the Xmas holidays. Young man about to get his train from Waterloo, back to probably Southampton to join his ship. Source: PicClick

Soldiers, having arrived by train at Waterloo, are catching a bus home after a long spell in the trenches. Source: PicClick

Waterloo at Xmas 1928. The boy is carrying mistletoe. This is the elevated roadway just outside the station. Source: Twitter

Waterloo, 1935. Presents for the driver’s kids perhaps? Source: Twitter

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‘Regimental Sergeant Major Jessop and Company Sergeant Major Raeburn, both of the Royal Engineers, left Waterloo today with their families for Hong-Kong, where their regiment is stationed. They will spend Xmas aboard the troopship Dunera at Sea.’ 21st December 1937. Source: Gettys

In the 1960s Waterloo station was doing with just one medium sized tree, however within the vastness of its station concourse the tree looked quite insignificant!

Waterloo, 1960s – with what seems a rather a rather meagre Xmas! Source: Source: Huffington Post

1970s Waterloo. It seems as if the station wanted to excel at what could be described as Scrooge-like Christmases! Source: Pinterest


Troops fooling around at Victoria station as they arrive home to spend Xmas. December 1929. Source: Mail

A roaring thirties girl having fun at Victoria station as she leaves for a Xmas holiday on the ski slopes. Source: Mail

One thought on “London rail stations' bygone Xmases

  1. Amazing collection of photos you’ve pooled together here – especially the one entitled ‘Waterloo Waterloo at Xmas 1928’ – Cheers.
    (I can imagine Manor Park, East Ham or Upton Park stations copying this with big Christmas decorations like this in 2020!)

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