2019 marked the 40th year of the National Rail Heritage Awards (NRHA) and one that the Thameslink Programme team will not forget. After five years of construction at London Bridge station, the team was extremely proud to be awarded the ‘Operational Enhancement’ prize at the annual ceremony in London’s Merchant Taylors’ Hall.
The award, which was presented by HRH The Princess Royal to Annamarie Compton, Network Rail’s Consents Development Manager and Chris Drabble, Network Rail’s Programme Sponsor, recognises the efforts made at all stages of the project to preserve both the architecturally interesting and historically important details of London’s first railway station (originally built in 1836). The NRHA noted the “careful reuse of historical elements within the overall creation of a modern station capable of handling the traffic generated in the 21st century”.
Right from the early planning stage, into the demolition stages and beyond, it was always going to be a challenging project from a heritage perspective. The difficulty of balancing the needs of passengers in huge a modern station against such an old site of national importance was not lost on anyone. The construction supply chain worked with Network Rail and the Railway Heritage Trust to ensure that the most important historic features either preserved, relocated or recreated to be sympathetic to the old architectural features.
Advice was sought from the Railway Heritage Trust to ensure the best elements from the station – such as the street level facades and important structural ironwork – were preserved or transferred to other sites.
This year’s winning projects were chosen from sixty nominations by two judges and a panel of twelve adjudicators. Projects are visited and must demonstrate an emphasis of quality, thoughtfulness, sympathetic treatment and awareness of conservation practice and regard for the local environment.
You can find out more about the heritage of London Bridge station here and see what went into preserving certain aspects of the original station as well as other station developments within the Thameslink Programme. Look out for the plaque too, which will soon go on public display at London Bridge station.
The photos below show Her Royal Highness Princess Anne presenting the plaque to Annamarie Compton and Chris Drabble.