A railway station in West London that was on the Heritage at Risk Register has been restored as part of the Elizabeth line preparations.
Hanwell station, in Ealing, opened in December 1838 as part of the Great Western Railway, and for a short time also served London Underground services between London and Windsor.
Re-built circa 1875–77 it’s now a Grade II listed building, but had been falling into decay even as it continued to serve national rail customers.
Compared to all the others along the railway between Slough and Paddington, it’s always been an odd-looking station, but in a nice way. It’s somehow retained a lot of the period appearance at the platforms that have been slowly removed over the decades along the other stations preferring more functional platform signs and brighter colours. The rough stone paving on the platforms only reinforced its vintage appearance.
Whizzing past on the trains, its appearance often reminded me more of my model railway stations than a modern railway station, such was its village charm.
Some work was done in 2000 to shore up the station, but when TfL took over in 2017, a major refurbishment was ordered to prepare for the Elizabeth line. As a listed building, it hasn’t been modernised and given splashes of purple all over the place, but renovated to its classic appearance.
The 1870s station buildings have been repaired, re-painted and restored to the traditional Great Western Railway cream and golden brown colour scheme. Historic signs on the platforms have also been carefully restored, and on the staircases, timber handrails and cast-iron balustrades have been given a new lease of life with lighting upgraded to LEDs fitted in the traditional hanging lanterns.
A derelict building on platform 2 has been turned into a waiting room with period features, while the waiting room on platform 3 has also been refurbished to match.
On platform 3 is a station nameboard, bearing the pre-1974 name Hanwell and Elthorne, which has also been restored.
The platforms are elevated above ground, and there used to be an entrance on both the north and south sides of the railway, but the southside was blocked off a long time ago. That’s been opened up again, and the new southern entrance given a heritage appearance with a canopy and new streetlights that matches the rest of the station.
And for the first time, it has step-free access after a new lift shaft was constructed. The lift on platform 2 was built using specialist equipment and required hand excavation over a period of weeks so that the historic timber canopy could be left in place.
Additionally, the customer toilet has been converted into an accessible facility and an accessible ticket office window has been installed. Customer information screens displaying live travel information including local bus departure times have also been installed in the ticket office.
At the same time, Ealing council pedestrianised the area outside of the station to create a paved forecourt.
Emily Gee, Regional Director for Historic England in London and the South East, said: “Hanwell has been given a new lease of life thanks to the careful restoration and improvement works by TfL over the last few years. The Victorian character of the station really shines through and we hope all users appreciate the new spaces and intricate details now revealed for many years to come.”
Hanwell has also benefitted from a doubling in service frequency, moving from two to four trains per hour in either direction and shorter, old trains have been replaced with Elizabeth line trains providing a significant increase in capacity.
The station will now be removed from the Heritage at Risk Register by Historic England, and the change will be reflected in the new register, which is due to be published in October.