A railway station in West London that was on the Heritage at Risk Register has been restored as part of the Elizabeth line preparations.

(c) TfL

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.

New lift in wood cladding (c) TfL

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.

The derelict waiting room (c) TfL

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.

Renovated southern entrance (c) Google Street View

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.

Lift in the reopened corridor under the railway (c) TfL

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.

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7 comments
  1. Mr Gareth J Daniel says:

    I really enjoyed reading the well-researched article on my local Hanwell Station in London W7 (LB Ealing). The refurbishment has indeed been done to a very high standard and the whole facility is so much more welcoming and appealing than it used to be. It’s also good to see more staff on site and to have lifts installed to help everyone with mobility issues or just carrying heavy luggage and pushchairs. Congratulations to all involved in this project.

  2. Kevin Scullin says:

    Agreed, very nice job all round, a blend of vintage with the new (eg. modern lifts). Hanwell is fortunate, and shame that one or two more stations throughout country with old fixtures and fittings didn’t survive to be so comprehensively refurbished.

    But, why not name station “HANWELL AND ELTHORNE” again on maps and timetables, seeing that’s the name on running-in boards on platforms?

    And, how about having one service a day a steam train? – nice idea, only joking, though.

  3. David Newsome says:

    On behalf of all 500+ members of the Hanwell Station Users Group thanks for a very nice piece on the renovated station. There is a history of trying to keep the station in its current form going back well before my time to a Station Preservation group. Finally we have a 21st century station without losing the essence of the original. And the lift work on the island platform involved stopping the platform roof from sagging so definitely a double win there. We are very grateful to the contractors (Murphy Group and ESS) for their works on the station and the community minded way they carried them out. Just need a fully functional Elizabeth line now!

    Dave Newsome HSUG

  4. Maennling Nic says:

    The will to start and complete such a project is lacking in most other countries. It is a joy to see that the public was interested in the station and it is their pressure that moved this along. Bravo to the lot of you.

    Here in Ontario, Canada back in the 1970s, old stone stations were pulled down, sometimes even before the sun was up. We managed to rally and save our station in Carleton Place, a rare triumph.

  5. Jennifer says:

    What a lovely article on a local station! My station is West Ealing, just one east from Hanwell, and the last in zone 3. I rarely get to the Hanwell station but will do so soon when it warms up and I go to visit Brunel’s Wharncliffe Viaduct for cycling and leisure. I’ll be sure to stop by the renovated Hanwell (and Elthorne!) station. I’ve always been charmed by it and I’m very pleased to see it’s been renovated appropriately. Ealing!

  6. Andrew Gwilt says:

    Is Hanwell a listed building and TfL can’t do dramatic changes to the station including extending the platforms.

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