Location One

1. Deptford Railway Station

Audio Description – Caption One
Summary – Caption One

Deptford Railway Station

Opened in February 1836, Deptford railway station is the oldest in London still in use. At the time of its construction it was seen by some as a sign of progress and modernity – but it also displaced numerous people from their homes.

Unlike in Bermondsey, where the railway line passed through open fields, in Deptford houses were pulled down to make way. Since not everyone could afford to move into large new neighbourhoods, as suggested by the railway companies, they had nowhere to go. A symbol of progress and modernity, but at what cost?

An account published by The Times in 1861 challenged the argument that the railway would improve people’s lives. It noted:

“The poor are displaced but they are not removed. They are shovelled out of one side of the parish, only to render more overcrowded the stifling apartments in the other part.”

Similarly, numerous writers noted most locals lived in appalling, overcrowded living conditions and some of this was due to the railway construction. Edward Wallace wrote:

“For what was once Deptford’s glory is now Deptford’s slum. The great houses ring with the shrill voices of innumerable children. Floor after floor is let out to tenements and in some cases, a dozen families occupy the restricted space which in olden times barely sufficed to accommodate the progeny of opulent ship’s chandlers.”

Social reformer Charles Booth noted too that ‘hardly a family in Regent Street or Griffin Street has more than a room’, and the people live in poverty.

It’s interesting to reflect on this today and ask what redevelopment means for the existing residents of a neighbourhood.

References

Caroline, 2008. Deptford Station: A London First. [online] Carolineld.blogspot.com. Available at: https://carolineld.blogspot.com/2008/07/deptford-station-london-first.html

Lewis, J., n.d. The Railway Age. [online] Sky HISTORY TV channel. Available at: https://www.history.co.uk/history-of-london/the-railway-age

Network Rail. n.d. The History of London Bridge Station – Network Rail. [online] Available at: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/who-we-are/our-history/iconic-infrastructure/the-history-of-london-bridge-station/

Past In the Present. 2016. Divided by the Railway – And How Inequality in Deptford has Stuck. [online] Available at: https://pastinthepresent.net/2016/05/02/divided-by-the-railway-and-how-inequality-in-deptford-has-stuck/

Prockter, A., 2014. Deptford Station. [online] Know Your London. Available at: https://knowyourlondon.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/deptford-station/

Skip to content