Blackfriars Station, one of three stations set on the north bank of the Thames, was built for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LDCR). In 1860 company was authorised to build an extension from Beckenham to Ludgate Hill.
The new railway line would cross the Thames beside Blackfriars Bridge and, as the road bridge was being rebuilt by Joseph Cubitt, he designed both bridges. Work started in 1862 and the station, then known as St Paul’s, opened in 1864.
As the bridge also formed part of the terminus it was given cast-iron ornamentation
Beside the Italianate St Paul’s station stood Blackfriars underground station on the District Line, dating from 1870. Designed by F J Ward, this grey stock brick and Portland stone building, flanked with towers and minarets, was the only Turkish-style station to be built in London.
20 years later when new lines were needed, it was decided to construct a second railway bridge alongside the first. Opened in 1886, the new bridge was designed W. Mills, assisted by John Wolfe Barry and H M Brunel (second son of Isambard Kingdom Brunel).
Following the grouping of the railways In 1923, the newly formed Southern Railway decided to concentrate all its long-distance and Continental traffic at Waterloo and Victoria. In 1937 St Paul’s Station was renamed Blackfriars Station and the bridge became just a widening of Blackfriars Railway Bridge. By the mid-20th century the bridge was considered too weak for modern trains and in 1971 all rail services were concentrated on the newer downstream bridge.
The obsolete railway bridge was eventually dismantled in 1984 and all that can be seen today are its columns protruding from the waters of the Thames.
Today Blackfriars Station has 2 through platforms and 3 terminal platforms and serves south London, Luton and Thameslink stations between Bedford and Brighton.
In the future Blackfriars Station may see a new lease of life as part of the delayed Thameslink2000 project. This work may include the expansion of the station across to the south bank.