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 Network Rail’s Annamarie Compton, Consents Development Manager and Chris Drabble, 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 that the ‘careful reuse of historical elements within the overall creation of a modern station capable of handling the traffic generated in the 21st century’.
The plaque has now gone on public display in the Western Arcade of the station after its unveiling on 4 February 2020 by Gareth Leslie of London Underground Ltd and Theo Steel from the NRHA.
Right from the early planning of the new London Bridge station, 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 NRHA 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 NRHA to ensure the best elements from the station were preserved or transferred to other sites such as the street level facades and important structural ironwork.
This year’s winning projects were chosen from sixty nominations by two judges and a panel of twelve adjudicators. Projects were visited and had to demonstrate an emphasis of quality, thoughtfulness, sympathetic treatment and awareness of conservation practice and regard for the local environment.
The specific elements of London Bridge station the judges focussed on were:
- The arch elevations on St Thomas Street and the Arch 3 elevation on Crucifix Lane
- The Tooley Street elevation
- The Bermondsey Street elevation
- Stainer Street
- The bridge abutment elevations on Joiner Street
- The non-listed parts of Joiner Street; and the Western Arcade.
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 on the Thameslink Programme’s Learning Legacy website.
Look out for the plaque which can be found in the Western Arcade towards the London Underground end of the station.
The photos show the plaque unveiling at the station and Her Royal Highness Princess Anne presenting the plaque to Network Rail at the ceremony.