Friday, April 1, 2011

Victoria, London


When it comes to architecture, Victoria is not the most illustrious of the great London railway termini. It lacks the great iron and glass conservatory-like sweep of Paddington, the very resolved design of King’s Cross, or the restored glamour of St Pancras. It’s also structurally slightly confusing, partly because of its history of serving two railways – the South Eastern and Chatham and the London, Brighton and South Coast. It’s still a station of two halves, with the old South Eastern and Chatham platforms on the left as you stand on the concourse looking towards the tracks, the London, Brighton and South Coast platforms on the right.

There are still some little noticed but still notable details at Victoria, though. My picture shows one from the London, Brighton and South Coast side of the station, a cast-iron Ionic capital from 1898, when the LB & SC rebuilt their side of the station in red-brick Renaissance revival style. The roof is held up by impossibly tall Ionic columns, each terminating in a capital like this one beneath the arches that support the metal and glass roof.

This is a Victorian interpretation of a Greek capital: the curvaceous spiral volutes and egg-and-dart moulding are variations on what would be found on a Classical temple or Renaissance palace, the swags below them are a more fanciful addition, though probably copied from some Renaissance source. The capital and its cousins are hardly visible from down on the station concourse, but as I dashed up the escalator towards Victoria Place on my way to the Passport Office this morning, I found myself quite close to the roof and face to face with this capital. Trying to ignore the mystified glances of passing commuters, I aimed my mobile phone to record a bit more unregarded architecture for your delectation.


bazza said...

I have always thought of Victoria as a romantic station. Particilarly since I caught the Orient Express from the extra long platform two many years ago.
There was a red carpet and a Rolls Royce drove onto the platform and a bridal couple boarded our carriage. Apparently they were magazine competition winners! My wife took delight that the bride was throwing up during the channel crossing!
Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Terry said...

"Trying to ignore the mystified glances of passing commuters..." I bet you made them look, maybe for the very first time.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you both.