An art-deco icon, the imposing Victoria Coach Station marks its 85th anniversary this year, with a huge birthday party.
Victoria Coach Station was opened on the 10th March 1932, by London Coastal Coaches, a consortium of coach operators. The art-deco frontage is now a listed building, and is one of the most notable surviving works by Wallis, Gilbert & Partners, specialists in industrial architecture.
It will be as much a celebration of the building, as a look back at a time when people dressed in their Sunday Best to travel, and when coaches enabled ordinary folk to visit far flung places for the first time. The birth of the tourism by the masses, and for many, their life-changing adventures started here, at Victoria Coach Station.
Victoria’s ascendancy as London’s main hub for coach travel began in Easter Sunday 1919 when local motor trader Len Turnham ran a charabanc from Grosvenor Gardens to Brighton, a successful venture offering affordable fares for war-weary Londoners seeking seaside air.
This started the ball rolling, with traveling by coach increasing in popularity, and by 1930 over a dozen other national operators were using a two-acre site in Lupus Street as their London terminus. Consisting of an open yard with utilitarian structures, this was only a temporary solution and in 1930 the 1.25 acre site in Buckingham Palace Road was acquired.
Opening on 10 March 1932, the new station comprised a ground-floor booking hall, shops and buffet, and a lounge bar and 200-seat restaurant at mezzanine and first-floor levels.
Now, in it’s 85th year, heritage coach operators are expected to descend on the coach station for a three-day festival featuring vehicles from every decade since that grand opening. Alongside preserved vehicles dating from the late 1920s to the 1990s, there will be a number of modern day coaches to board and look around.
There will be stalls from current operators, as well as a number of competitions raising money for The Transport Benevolent Fund.
The festival is being organised by the Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust who are currently calling for heritage coach owners to attend the three-day event.
Put 10th-12th March in your diaries.