Penge East Railway Station
Penge East Railway Station is a nationally-listed Grade ll building and one of the most beautiful buildings in Penge. Historic England includes it in a list of several Grade ll listed buildings in the area. In June 2017, Penge East was named one of the top ten train stations in South London.
Built in 1861/63, on the Chatham mainline, and paid for by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, with influences of the Gothic revival and William Morris’s art nouveau designs in its architecture, the building heralded the coming of modern transportation. It had a grand opening, as was the custom in Victorian times, on July 1st, 1863. The Gothic and art nouveau influences can be seen in its angular doorways and windows and Tudor influences in its tall chimneys. Similar use of red brick, yellow stock and windows and doorways with ‘pointed heads’ in the Gothic style can be seen at the (much grander) St Pancras railway station in central London, designed by William Henry Barlow, and opened five years later in 1868.
The design, by LCDR architect John Taylor, is congruent with the Gothic and Tudoresque influences in other Penge buildings such The Royal Watermen’s Almshouses (1840/41), The Royal Naval Asylum (1848) and St John the Evangelist church (1850/51). Historic England notes ‘the yellow stock brick, limestone and glazed tiles dressings’, ‘the red brick cornices at the gables’, and ‘the sashes with their pointed heads to upper lights’ as well as the decorated chimney stacks. The ambitious and trendy designs speak volumes about the upwardly-mobile plans for Penge in mid-Victorian times.
The corrugated-iron covered walkway over the station is also a locally-listed structure and was built in 1880. Previously there was a level crossing and the station was called Penge Lane Station. Sheep would be herded across the line on their way to Penge Common. The level crossing closed in 1879. The station was renamed Penge East Station on 9 July, 1923.
The crossing-keeper’s cottage dates from 1863, the year the station was opened. A blue plaque is proposed for this fascinating symbol of past railway life.
The station-master himself cut a commanding figure until about 1950 and oversaw a staff of twenty. He was able to stop an express train at Penge East so that fog-delayed passengers could board and resume their journey. In those days, trains were steam-powered, the steam adding to the notorious London pea-souper smogs. The tunnel into which they disappeared and then emerged was engineered by Joseph Cubitt.
Over the years, the station has had its share of resident cats, none more so than Lily, a female tortoiseshell, whose poignant story is told on her own page under the Heritage Stories section.
For further details on its official listing by Historic England, see: Historic England Listing
For details on Penge East as one of the top stations in South London: South London Club – South London Train Stations