London Victoria: A Tale of Two Stations

Victoria Station. London. England. Named (in a roundabout fashion) after the United Kingdom’s longest serving monarch and Empress (at the time) of a large part of the rest of the world. If you’re visiting London in 2015, the chances are you’ll encounter one of our capitals most iconic terminus’- be it for bus, tube, coach or overland train.

If you are visiting London, then you might decide you need somewhere to drop your bags whilst you see the sites. But left luggage services at Stations like London Victoria can be extortionate – so you end up paying a small fortune just to have the pleasure of not lugging your bags around London. If you’ve got lots of bags – maybe you’re here on a business trip or just here for vacation – then we’ve got an alternative solution – and let us tell you a tale of two stations…

London Victoria effectively began life as two unconnected mainline stations. Both were constructed to bring trains from the South and South East directly into central London. The ‘Grosvenor Terminus’ as it was first called was built at the end of Victoria Street (and hence named) in 1860. The western side had 10 tracks, 6 platforms and served the lines in from Brighton, whilst the East side (Chatham & Dover) had 9 tracks. The two stations quickly became a busy due to the accessibility they provided to Westminster and London’s West End.

The two stations being separate had their own entrances and station masters. This gave rise to a certain amount of social sniping – most noted in Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Ernest – which implied the Brighton side had the upper hand on the social scale.

Both sides to the station were completely rebuilt in the early 20th Century – although (perhaps in another nod to that classism) in starkly contrasting architectural styles. The West (Brighton) side in a redbrick and stone style incorporating the simultaneously rebuilt Grovesnor Hotel, and the East side in an Edwardian Style in white sandstone.

The two stations were finally united in 1924 when Southern Railway knocked down a screen wall and the platforms were renumbered.

The popularity of the stations lead to congestion, confusion and delays – and eventually an ingenious solution to accommodate more trains. Due to the constraints of roads and building around the site expansion of platforms laterally was not an option. Instead they were lengthened and a third track put down between the platform sided tracks. Crossover points were added enabling trains to come in behind and stack end to end along the longer platforms.

London Victoria’s popularity soared and it is now second only to Waterloo as London’s busiest terminus. Between 2010 and 2011 it served over 78 million travellers. The key reason is the accessibility it brings to some of London’s greatest attractions in the West end and Westminster. Westminster Palace and Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews, Hyde Park, The London Eye and most of central Government offices  – along with plenty of theatres including the Apollo Theatre Victoria and the Victoria Palace.

If you are coming in to London Victoria and need to leave luggage – or perhaps equipment if you’re here for a trade show – and don’t want to pay crazy central London Victoria prices – we can help. A storage locker or unit at out Wandsworth, Southwark or Camden Stores is an alternative solution. Our Wandsworth and Southwark branches are just both just a 20 minute taxi ride away and offer extremely competitive short term storage.