Thursday, 3 March 2011

Subterranean Smithfield

Here's a description of the lost underground station at Smithfield Market. I don't think I've ever seen any pictures of it - let me know if you have!

To begin, however, with the beginning —its foundations—New Smithfield Market is really a wonderful structure. It occupies a space of nearly three acres, and the whole of this great area may be said to hang or rest upon girders over an equal space excavated underneath it. The Metropolitan Railway passes below it in every part, and as at this point there are junctions with the Great Western, Great Northern, Midland, and soon will be with the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway, a large space was required, especially for the great extent of sidings which will be requisite for the meat trucks coming from all parts of England. This great underground junction is, therefore, of precisely the same extent as the market above it. It is a little more than 25ft. high, and the whole of the superincumbent mass is carried on a series of square cast-iron columns, or rather pillars, with wrought-iron girders between, the spaces between these again being filled up with brick arches of about 6ft. span, built of great strength and laid in cement. The underground junction is a most wonderful piece of engineering skill, and adds another to the long list of engineering works which, whatever may be its deficiencies in other respects, places London ahead of any other city in the world. As we have said, on the pillars and girders of this great subterranean station New Smithfield is built, and, in the regions below it a number of hydraulic lifts are placed, so that as the meat arrives on the sidings from railways north and south, east and west, it is raised at once, without trouble or pulling about, to the level of the market above. It is expected also that a considerable general goods traffic will be carried on at this junction in addition to the meat trade, for which the sidings have been especially constructed, for a circular road, with an easy gradient, winds down from the centre of Smithfield, and enters the underground area beneath arches. Two wide flights of stairs also give access from the junction to the centre of the market.

Times, August 18, 1868

7 comments:

  1. According to Wikipedia this was part of the Snow Hill tunnel - now used by Thameslink.
    Map: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Extract_of_1889_Railway_Map_Showing_Ludgate_Hill_%26_Holborn_Viaduct_stations.png

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  2. Yes, perfectly possible - that bit of the railway is labyrinthine ... I'm no expert on such matters - interesting map!

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  3. Pix of the underground cold storage attached to the station: http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=51239&highlight=smithfield+cold+store

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  4. Cheers - someone sent me that on Twitter ... but now we have a link here too ... thanks!

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  5. I've been told that there's a disused subterranean music hall under Smithfield. Never managed to verify it though

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  6. Prima facie, a music hall is very unlikely (!) ... I take it you have no more information about it?

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  7. Sorry for the belated reply. Only that some semi-legal parties were held there in the eighties (1980's that is)

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