Another look at the construction of the world’s first underground passenger railway as seen by the Illustrated London News – this time from Feb 1861.
The article makes mention of the side tunnel that would link the underground railway with the mainline service above ground just behind King’s Cross station. The line enabled overground trains to run direct into the underground tunnels – and the underground tunnels were built with tracks for both gauges.
These two short stretches were known as the Maiden Lane Curve and the York Road Curve – long since disused apparently.
THE METROPOLITAN RAILWAY
Annexed are two Views of the works in progress of the Underground Railway from Paddington to the City, one terminus of which is to be at the station of the Great Western Railway and the other in Victoria-street. The main tunnel will be 20½ feet broad by 16½ feet high. The stations, which will not be in the tunnel but in open cuttings, will be at the following places — Paddington, Edgware-road, Baker-street, Portland-road, Gower-street, King’s-cross, and Victoria-street.
There will be branch lines from the North-Western and Great-Western Railways. The underground view shows the Bell Mouth Junction at King’s-cross of the main tunnel with the two branch lines to the Great Northern Railway; one of these branch lines, for goods trains only, proceeds under Maiden-lane and joins the Great Northern line a short distance beyond the station; the other branch for passengers only, runs under the old St. Pancras-road, near the Great Northern Hotel, and will enter on the opposite side of the station to that of the goods line. These branch railways will consist of single lines, running through tunnels of 13 feet 8 inches broad and 15 feet high.
From the Bell Mouth Junction at King’s-cross the main line runs in a curved direction by Bagnigge-wells and Clerkenwell to the proposed terminus in Victoria-street.
The general above-ground view of the cutting at King’s-cross shows the site of what will be the King’s-cross station of the Metropolitan Railway near the junction of the New-road, Old St. Pancras-road, Maiden-lane, Gray’s-inn-road, Bagnigge-wells-road, and the Pentonville-road.
Near this spot a great difficulty had to be overcome in the construction of the branch tunnel to the Great Northern, and that was the Fleet River. This stream of sewage has been successfully inclosed in a huge iron tube, which crosses through the upper part of the tunnel. It will be readily understood that the inclosing this stream, which in wet seasons is very full and rapid, was no light undertaking. It has however, been safely completed, and the trains will run actually under the Fleet River.
Messrs. Smith and Knight are the contractors for the portion of the line from Paddington to Euston-square. Of this portion the works are in progress in Praed-street, Paddington, Chapel-street, the Marylebone and Portland roads.
Mr. John Jay is the contractor for the portion of the line from Euston-square to Victoria-street. The works of this portion are in progress in the Euston-road, at King’s-cross, and in Coppice-row, Clerkenwell. Mr. John Fowler is the chief engineer, and Mr. Marr Johnson the resident engineer. The whole, when completed, will be brilliantly illuminated with gas.
We have to thank the acting superintendents of the works, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Houselander, for the facilities they afforded our Artist when making the drawings.