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Nine Elms Station, April 1848 & the Chartists

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2021 by kmflett

Nine Elms Station, April 1848 & the Chartists

Two new London Underground stations (Northern Line branch from Kennington) opened today, Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station.

Nine Elms will serve the new US Embassy (handy for demos) and New Covent Garden market. It will also serve some new (largely unaffordable) housing being built to offset the cost of the project to TFL. Both stations are in Zone 1 which reflects Sarf London Exceptionalism.

There was however a previous Nine Elms station designed by Sir William Tite. It was opened on 21st May 1838 and was the terminus of the London and Southampton railway. It was not then in central London (is it now one wonders?)and passengers used steam boats on the Thames for onward travel to London Bridge

It closed to passenger traffic on 12th July 1848 when Waterloo opened, although Queen Victoria still used it to welcome Royal and other notable foreign visitors. Garibaldi entered London at Nine Elms in 1864.

The railway company extended the railway to Waterloo, 2 miles of marsh covered by railway arches which cost £35m in today’s money. One of the many joyful tasks Ive had over the years was to negotiate lease details for several of the arches on Goding St which were used to house specialist telecoms equipment for some years.

The line carried freight traffic until hit by a German bomb in 1941. The station and other buildings had been knocked down by 1968, despite opposition from John Betjeman and New Covent Garden Market occupies the site.

After the railways were nationalised in 1848 Attlee’s Labour Government proposed a national museum for larger railway memorabilia such as locomotives and hit upon Nine Elms as the ideal location. The plan had support but British Rail refused to release the site and the museum of course ended up in due course in York.

When the Chartists demonstrated for the vote at nearby Kennington Common on Monday April 10th 1848 the station was used (with the full support of the railway company of course..) to hold troops in reserve who had come up from Gosport. That included 35 marine artillery soldiers with two light guns and 450 infantrymen.

The expected revolutionary assault on London did not occur and they were probably not used, although some troops were deployed at Blackfriars Bridge to stop the Chartists going north of the Thames. The late historian of Chartism Malcolm Chase argues however that the main purpose of the troops was to protect the railway operation from the Chartists.

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