Clapham Common Underground Station

Above: Looking along the island platforms from the original (western) end.

The underground station only has two platforms which form an island between the northbound and southbound tracks. There were three stations which had this layout. One was Angel Underground Station, at Islington, but due to the large number of passengers that used it, the island platform was considered too dangerous in rush-hours and a new layout was incorporated into a redesigned station, with two separate platforms. That means that Clapham Common is now only one of two underground stations to have this layout – the other being the ‘next stop’, called Clapham North.

The original entrance to the station, from street level, is the western end, via a domed building dating from the 1920s. A later entrance was added to the eastern end of the island platform via a modern curved steel and glass pavilion. As a platform layout, the station is becoming a ‘museum piece’ of underground railway design.

The station is on the Northern Line which runs south from Edgware and divides into two parts at Camden. One route passes through Tottenham Court Road and Waterloo with the other route running via Bank and London Bridge. The two lines come together again at Kennington and end at Morden. The history of that line is complex. Parts of it were the first of the underground lines to be constructed by boring deep below the surface of London. It was also the first to be operated by electric traction. The part of the line relating to Clapham Common was opened in 1926. Clapham Common Station was one of seven new stations, all designed by Charles Holden. This had been decided by Frank Pick, who was Assistant Joint Manager of what was then the Underground Electric Railways Company of London Limited (UERL).

Above: Looking at the platforms from the top of the stairs leading from the original (western) entrance.

For anyone reading this article who lives in London, it is worth taking a look at the cramped platform conditions. With Angel Station already pronounced unsafe for public use at peak times and converted to a new layout, one gets the feeling that it will not be long before the two remaining examples of island platforms are consigned to the scrap-heap of history. At least you will have had early warning if it comes to pass.


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