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Rather later than planned, the Southbank entrance to Waterloo tube station finally reopened to the public over the weekend. The old entrance was built into the ground floor of the Shell centre office buildings, but as those have been demolished to be replaced with tiny expensive flats, the tube station entrance had to close.
It closed in November 2015 and was due to reopen in late 2018. It actually reopened on 25th May 2019.
The new entrance is much larger than the old entrance, but was very nearly not so large.
The original planning application for the block of flats above would have seen the front of the tube station entrance rebuilt as a retail outlet, with the tube station entrances around the side of the building.
That plan didn’t last very long, and after long chats with London Underground, within a few months the developers were back with a revised scheme. The changes were due to London Underground’s concerns about the size of the proposed ticket hall, and the lack of additional capacity at a station which is getting ever busier.
What has been built instead is to put the main entrance on the front facing York Road as the old entrance was, but also retaining the new northern side entrance as well, and roughly three times as many ticket barriers as were there before.
They also slotted in a third escalator into the space that had been the static staircase between two escalators.
However, it took longer than planned, and has been looking “nearly finished” for the best part of a year. Thought to be opening last August, it was then scheduled in for late last year, and then radio silence until now.
Last week, the hoardings finally came down, and on Saturday morning the shutters finally opened up to let people in once more.
It’s fairly spartan as designs go, but here, the substantially larger floor space makes the station entrance considerably more welcoming than the tiny cramped space it used to offer. A few nice touches though, such as the back-lit panels on the walls, which I am sure will look rather more impressive at night.
No ticket office whatsoever, just a bank of ticket machines and one large video advertising screen that will “greet” people leaving the station.
Rather more useful is the train departure display boards at street level — giving people a chance to judge their journey before descending into the bowels.
Overall, its a very considerable upgrade from what was there before.
At time of visiting though, while the new entrance is very visible at street level, down in the tunnels all the signs to SouthBank still point up to the main Waterloo Station entrance, and haven’t been returned to pointing to the much faster alternative.
Doubtless to be corrected over the next few days.
As a total diversion – when researching the planning details, came across this diagram that shows the disused lift shafts when the entrance was on the other side of the road. The entrance was rebuilt on the other side, with escalators to cope with visitors to the Festival of Britain and opened in 1951.
A few more photos:
This article first appeared on www.ianvisits.co.uk