Snow Hill Metropolitan Railway line excavations. Scarce original antique print published in the ‘Illustrated Times’ in 1864.
On this day 13th. May in 1865 the ‘Illustrated Times’ published this image of the Metropolitan Railway’s works at Snow Hill in the City of London. Using a cut-and-cover technique, the Metropolitan Railway Company demolished all before it in building this route from King’s Cross to join the Chatham and Dover Railway’s line. The Illustrated Times reported, “Hundreds of navvies are busy working vigorously at the excavation, and scores of carts are carrying away the soil, the nearest available place to shoot it being Camberwell, where the widening of the Chatham and Dover line is being carried on. Passing in its way Cow Cross Street, and obliterating in its course all trace of the boneboilers, tripedressers, knackers’ yards and other unsavoury businesses which once flourished in the area.”At Smithfield the cut-and-cover was sufficiently deep to pass under “the proposed dead-meat (sic) market.” If you look carefully at our image you’ll see the railway line appears to be ending at a castellated building. This is what remained of Fleet Prison which was to be demolished to make way for Ludgate Hill railway station. Beyond Fleet Prison, on the very edge of the page is Blackfriars Bridge station and bridge (south of the river in Southwark), designed by Joseph Cubitt for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. To the west of Fleet Prison is the spire of Sir Christopher Wren’s St. Bridget’s Church (known as St. Bride’s Church, it is located in Fleet Street and is the ‘journalists’ church’.) The River Thames can be seen flowing west to east beyond the City of London, with Southwark (in Surrey at the time) in the distance.