by Nick Cooper © 2010

CROUCH END RAILWAY STATION

London Underground's 1935 New Works Programme included plans for an ambitious extension of the existing Northern line by connection to - and electrification of - the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) tracks from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace, High Barnet, and Edgware, with completely new track beyond the latter to a new terminus at Aldenham/Bushey Heath. The Northern's existing underground Highgate terminus - the present-day Archway was to be extended to a new station directly below the LNER's surface Highgate station, with the new tunnels then surfacing shortly before East Finchley.

This London Underghround map from 1938 shows the planned extensions, and notably differentiates between the two lines comprising the "new" Highgate station:

Extract from Underground Railway Map, 1938 Number 1

Although much work had been done when the Second World War broke out in September 1939, it was decided to only go ahead with the completion of Highgate to High Barnet, as well as the short spur from Finchley Church End (now Finchley Central) to Mill Hill East, to serve the army's Inglis Barracksnearby. Even after the War the section between Mill Hill East and Edgware continued to appear on Underground maps, but the plans were eventually shelved. Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace continued to be worked by steam trains until passenger services ceased in 1954.

Eventually the branch was abandoned, and in the 1990s most of it became the Parkland Walk nature reserve, between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace. Of the five stations inbetween, all traces of three have been almost completely obliterated, and while the Walk bypasses the largely intact Highgate, it eerily passes through the surviving platforms of Crouch End station, made all the more spooky by the addition - in one of the arches of the retaining  wall at the opposite end to where the actual station building was - of Marilyn Collins's Spriggan sculpture.

Photographs taken 17 July 2010.

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20/08/10

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