The remains of a ‘ghost station’ have been discovered by engineers working on a £6.5 billion rail project in south London. Southwark Park station, which served rail passengers from 1902 to 1915, was found perched on a viaduct above Rotherhithe New Road, in Bermondsey. It was closed along with Bermondsey Spa Road as a result of competition from trams and buses and as an economy measure during the First World War.
Southwark Park station was on the Greenwich to London Bridge line, and situated, not unsurprisingly, near Southwark Park. It opened in October 1902, but little used thanks to rising competition from tram services it closed on the 15th March 1915, as did its more famous neighbour up the road, at Spa Road. The existing stretch of the Victorian viaduct is set to be replaced as part of the Thameslink Programme improvement works, but the arch which used to house the old booking hall of the station will remain.
The station, apart from being no longer there, does have a claim to fame in railway history. The first signal box in the world was built here. What was known as the Corbett’s Lane signal-box, was built here as the London and Croydon Railway (L&CR) joined up with the existing Greenwich railway, necessitating the first major railway junction in the world. Initially, a policeman stood watch to control the trains, but this was replace with the Corbett’s lane lighthouse, which is the precursor of the modern signal box.
Project manager Greg Thornett said: “We uncovered the footings for the former platforms while we were preparing the top of the viaduct for new track and we are now working up in the roof space of the former ticket hall to fill in the old sky lights, ready to carry the final track alignment.” He added: “Although the old viaducts will be replaced by modern structures, they are designed to remain in keeping with the older architecture.”