IMG 8549fi 800x425 - The Tube's new Walbrook entrance finally opens!

The new entrance/exit off Walbrook has opened – and its three years late in the running, not that those delays was going to affect anyone immaterially because Bank tube station already has many entrances. This is a new addition – but what a difference it makes in terms of access and design!

The entrance itself opened on 30th November 2018. TfL held an official opening on the 12th December 2018 which the Mayor of London, TfL’s Mike Brown and entrepreneur Mike Bloomberg officiated. No details of this seem to have been published in the media however there are tweets from TfL and Bloomberg’s.

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Mike Brown (TfL) the Mayor of London and Mike Bloomberg at the official opening of the new Walbrook entrance 12th December. Source: Twitter.

In terms of station entrances at Bank/Monument the new facility is interesting because its the second example of surface buildings (without ticket facilities of course) to be found at Bank (the other is the quite small street level entrance building on King William Street.) Its a situation that wont last long as there are new station buildings within the King William/Cannon Street/Abchurch/Nicholas Lane area yet to come into use, it is said this will be by 2022. These will serve the new Northern Line platform and tunnels now being built alongside King William Street.

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TfL’s poster cheering the opening of the new Walbrook entrance.

In deference to Bank’s other surface entrance on King William Street which is Monday to Friday, the new one is open Monday to Saturdays only being primarily intended as an access point for the Waterloo and City Line – although all the other lines can be accessed from the new Walbrook entrance too.

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The new Walbrook tube entrance is next door to the famous London Mithraeum.

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The very spacious entrance lobby. Barriers & escalators at right.

As well as escalators there are also stairs and lifts that go down to the Waterloo and City platforms. The lifts are a great move however its currently not a fully ideal situation because accessibility at the Waterloo end is quite restricted to reaching the ticket hall. There isn’t lift access to the main line station itself.

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View of the spacious lobby looking towards the exit onto Walbrook.

Apart from that limitation, in terms of architecture/construction what is great about this new entrance is its spacious look. Its not of Jubilee Line genre however it does go a long way to showing what underground station entrances should be all about! In fact its gone one step further than this and has positioned itself as a museum of sorts – a new innovation on the tube.

Bloomberg himself said in his tweet: “London is @Bloomberg’s 2nd home & we’re committed to making it an even better place to live and work. Today with the @MayorofLondon & @TfL Commissioner Mike Brown we inaugurated the Walbrook entrance to Bank station – alleviating congestion, providing access to public art & more.”

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View of the Hutton panels and the upper escalator.

Bloomberg means exactly what he says! As well as the fantastic new Mithraeum that is part of Bloomberg’s, these pictures show the new station below Bloomberg’s building is also about public art and the large display that can be seen on the intermediate level is of great interest to those interested in history, the arts, and most of all London’s Roman’s past.

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A section of the Hutton panels showing the Roman figures.

This historic display depicts various glass panels – twenty four in all – these were originally from Bucklersbury House which was demolished 2010-2013 to make way for Bloomberg’s building. They were restored and then kept in safe storage until the new Walbrook station was ready to receive them.

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Close up showing the information boards.

The new facility is a huge departure for the tube. Walbrook is practically the first such tube station to really take on board the idea of exhibiting important artefacts. Its London’s first real attempt at something like the famous Louvre station on the Paris Metro.

Yes some of the stations have the occasional sculptures and art works however its rare. The difference here is Walbrook has given over a large area of wall for this historic display thus its the first station with a dedicated space. Some might say what about Gloucester Road? Well it can be said this was an afterthought the station itself wasn’t originally built to accommodate the large exhibitions that feature there! Nearby Tower Hill is about the only other one that has been built with historic exhibits in mind – there’s a real Roman Wall displayed above Tower Hill’s platforms – its however very easily missed.

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The twenty four glass panels were designed by John Hutton and originally on Bucklersbury House. The glass was actually very difficult to remove as it was quite thin glass contrary to expectations. It took three weeks to remove all twenty four panels and had to be done very carefully.

The 24 glass panels are now in their new location within bomb-proof housings, the panels themselves are actually cased behind shatter proof glass. I think the entire new structure itself must be quite considerably bomb-proofed too it may be something that caused part of the delay in construction and opening.

Briefly it must be mentioned that Crossrail’s stations are reputed to be bomb-proof too! Not only that some of the new line’s stations (eg Woolwich and Farringdon) will have large scale exhibitions that cover important aspects of London’s history. As recent events have shown however, we wont be seeing these important new stations or their displays for perhaps another year or two, thus that at Walbrook is going to be the nearest we can get in terms of knowing what those at a Crossrail station may look like.

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Down towards the Waterloo and City Line’s platforms.

In retrospect the new ‘Bloomberg’ station could have been something like the Louvre station on the Paris Metro since there is plenty of space available. Perhaps one day that will happen. Apart from maybe possible exhibits on the walls or even advertising I think TfL would rather the vast spaces were kept absolutely clear of any clutter.

One interesting aspect of the new station entrance is for the first time one can really see just how far down Queen Victoria Street the Waterloo and City’s station is. Besides consulting old maps showing the construction of the Waterloo and City or reading books on the history of the line, up until now it wasn’t easy to know where the station actually stood. Previously the travelator gave passengers some sort of idea it was some way off from the main Bank ticket hall, but gave no proper visual confirmation where the station was exactly.

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At this point the escalators are about level with Sise Lane. The two linking passageways go to the Waterloo & City.

With this new facility built at the base of Bloomberg’s one can easily see where the station is located. Just to reel off some facts, the platforms begin about where Sise Lane is, and the far end of these are about where Queen Street is. Consequently the crossover at Bank station is practically right by Mansion House tube station on the District/Circle Lines. If one thinks about the new entrance and the angles of the escalators and the street layout outside it can be seen that the bottom of the escalators are indeed about where Sise lane is.

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Looking back up the escalators, with the stairs and the accessible lift clearly visible.

The change in the escalators’ direction occurs just about where the plaza between Bloomberg’s and Bucklersbury begins therefore we know the Hutton panels are sited at that very point below ground. That itself tells us another ‘Mithraeum move’ has been achieved! I refer to the moving of the famous Roman temple from the front of Bucklersbury House deep underground below Bloomberg’s new building. Just like the Mithraeum itself, the twenty four panels themselves also stood at the front of Bucklersbury House and these now sit perhaps 12 metres below the new Bloomberg plaza – almost right at the spot where they once were!

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Before/after. Bucklersbury House with the 24 glass panels just visible on its large frontage windows – and the same location today with the panels deep below ground at almost the same point! Pics – Google Streets.

When one gets to the bottom of the escalator the passageways meet at an angle and this is because the escalators and stairs from Walbrook are facilitated at right angles but the passageway and travelator from Bank are at a different angle because they follow the alignment of Queen Victoria Street.

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View of the passageway from the Central/DLR/Northern to Waterloo & City.

Its a left turn for the Waterloo and City platforms and right for the Central, Northern and DLR although these three can be accessed somewhat quicker by using the other entrances around Bank station.

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Signage is probably a little on the sparse side, the turn off to the Walbrook escalators isn’t indicated at all as the above view shows, although there is this very small sign above the barriers in the Waterloo & City station itself.

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The signs on the Waterloo & City Line platform. A little confusing because there isnt a consecutive sign at the turn off for the Walbrook escalators! Hopefully it will be remedied.

Its evident from the picture that TfL have used decals in place of completely new signage. Whilst decals are useful they can get dirty and sometimes peel off. The decal on the tunnel wall just beyond the barriers was almost falling off and I put it back in place. It seems much of the time TfL just doesn’t bother with maintaining decals once they are up – there’s one at Euston Square that’s been as it is for a year and a half and not one TfL staff has yet bothered to put it right!

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