Postcard of the month - #147 - August 2012
Bow Works, North London Railway
Established as the East and West India Docks and Birmingham Junction Railway in 1846, the railway was built to connect the East and West India Docks with the nations growing rail network. A change of name happened in 1853, when the Company became the North London Railway". Then in 1866 a passenger line was built to Poplar and it carried it's first customers in that year. The Bow Works had been built a few years earlier on the eastern side of the track and just south of Bow Station. At the Bow Works the company built 99% of its rolling stock requirements. It was a miniature Crewe with a large foundry, smithy, lathe shop and many other departments. Early in the 1900s a tie up with the LNER led to the closure of the manufacturing side at the Bow Works, but it continued on as a maintenance Depot.
This picture, around the 1870s, shows the North London Line just south of Bow Station at the Gas Factory Junction. Here the line splits, with the right hand line giving a direct route to Fenchurch Street, while the left hand line is the North London Line to Poplar. The two large buildings, on the left of the line, are part of the Bow Works.
The improvement of motor transport between the Wars put severe pressure on the North London Railway. However, it was the damage done to the line during the blitz that led to the closure of the passenger service on the Poplar Line after the War. But the freight line continued. The Bow Works still maintained rolling stock until the closure of the East and West India Docks in the 1970s. The line was then closed together with the Bow Works. However with the need to improved transport facilities in the East End of London, the Docklands Light Railway was built, opened in 1987, to kick start the regeneration of the East End. So part of the old North London Railways Poplar Line was bought back into use and became part of the DLRs line to Stratford. Very little remains of the Bow Works site. It has been covered with local housing developments.
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