Despite being a thriving commuter hub, Waterloo station harbours a surprising number of quirky links with the animal kingdom…
During the first half of the 20th century Waterloo was home to a succession of ‘Railway Collection Dogs’; faithful hounds who padded around the station’s concourse with money boxes strapped to their backs, into which charitable members of the public could pop a few pennies.
Waterloo’s most celebrated charity dog was ‘Laddie’, an Airedale Terrier who was introduced to Waterloo in 1949 to raise cash for a retired railway workers’ home in Woking, Surrey.
Laddie patrolled Waterloo until his retirement in 1956, by which point he’d raised over £5,000; a very handsome sum for the time (approximate to £87,000 in today’s money).
The faithful dog spent his final years at the Woking retirement home amongst the elderly railwaymen he’d done so much for.
When Laddie passed away in 1960 he was stuffed and put on display in a glass cabinet at Wimbledon station where he remained until 1990.
Today, he is kept by the National Railway Museum in York, complete with an original collection box.
As well as dogs, Waterloo was once also home to approximately 40,000 bumble bees… whose hives were located 200ft up on the station’s roof!
The bees were kept in the 1950s and 60s by Mr Wilfred Green, a railway worker who used the hives to make jars of honey for the Southern Railway’s Children’s Home in Woking (allied to the home for which Laddie the dog raised money).
A video of the hives being tended by Wilfred in 1958 can be viewed below (note the complete lack of protective gear!)
Waterloo Pride…the Coade Stone Lion
For almost 180 years, a fearsome, stone lion has roamed the vicinity of Waterloo…
Weighing 13 tonnes, the lion dates back to 1837 when it was created by Warwickshire born artist, William Frederick Woodington as a grand mascot for the ‘Lion Brewery’; a distillery which once stood on the Southbank’s Belvedere Road.
The lion is forged from ‘Coade Stone’; an artificial material which was perfected by Eleanor Coade in the late 18th century.
Fired in a kiln over a period of several days, Coade stone is a very tough substance, famously immune to the onslaught of pollution… which means it always looks sparkling clean.
Like the Lion Brewery, Eleanor Coade’s factory was also located on the Southbank- the site today is now occupied by the Royal Festival Hall.
Holding pride of place above the brewery’s main entrance, the mighty lion was originally painted red as the mock-up image below illustrates…
An early admirer of the sculpture was French writer, Emile Zola who was delighted to see the hefty statue “poised in mid-air” atop its high arch.
Years later, Zola made a special return visit to the site to view the statue- which he affectionately referred to as “my lion”- one last time.
In 1949, the Lion Brewery was demolished and the land passed over to the development of the 1951 Festival of Britain.
At the request of King George VI himself the lion was saved… and adopted by Waterloo Station where, with its red coat (the colour then associated with the newly nationalised British Railways) it was able to continue as a corporate mascot.
During its time at Waterloo, the lion stood outside the York Road entrance, a short distance from the station’s Victory Arch entrance.
The lion guarded the station until 1966 when it was sadly forced to make way for the ‘Tower Building’; a looming 1960s office block which squeezes right up to Waterloo’s 1920s façade in a pretty thuggish way…
After being displaced by the modernist office slab, the Coade Stone Lion (also known today as the ‘Southbank Lion’) had its red paint removed and was shifted to its current site… the north-eastern foot of Westminster Bridge, right between the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.
The lion has a twin which once also adorned the former brewery… this partner can now be found at Twickenham rugby stadium’s west gate, standing proud in a coat of gold paint.
Elephant in the Room
Looming above the escalators that lead down to Waterloo’s connection with the Jubilee Line stands this rather fine elephant:
The piece was created in 2000 by Kendra Haste, a renowned artist who specializes in creating animal sculptures from wire.
The little fellow pictured above can be found hiding behind a cheerful statue of the artist Terence Cuneo which stands close to Waterloo’s Victory Arch entrance.
Born in London in 1907, Terence Cuneo studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and began his career as an illustrator for books and magazines.
In WWII, he served with the Royal Engineers and also carried out work for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee, creating a number of works depicting scenes from the conflict.
Cuneo was an expert at capturing fleeting moments in painstaking detail, a skill which led to him being appointed the official artist for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.
As well as his wartime paintings and Royal commissions, Terence Cuneo was especially renowned for his paintings of railways… a selection of which can be viewed in the slideshow below.
Terence had a very playful personality and crafted many fine toys for his two beloved children- including a full-size roundabout and a miniature railway which trundled around the garden.
His sense of mischief extended to his paintings, which are famous for their inclusion of a trademark little mouse, often very well hidden….rather like an early version of ‘Where’s Wally?’… hence the wee rodent included in the Waterloo statue.
Spotting the mice within his paintings can be quite a challenge!
Terence Cuneo passed away in 1996 and his statue, sculpted by Philip Jackson, was unveiled at Waterloo station in 2004.
A short film documenting Terence at work in 1960 can be viewed below:
More Waterloo trivia to follow soon….
This memorial, which can be seen outside the Waterloo Action Centre on Baylis Road, is dedicated to Dave Squires, a popular road-sweeper who looked after the Lower Marsh area near Waterloo Station. Dave was aged just 60 when he died.
Waterloo seeks another deep link
After failing to achieve their goal of establishing a link to Trafalgar Square (please see Waterloo Part One) , the board of the London & South Western Railway consoled themselves in the belief that their station at Waterloo was merely temporary and hoped in time to bridge their line towards another vital London hub- the financial Square Mile.
When this ambition also failed the company once again sought to reach their desired destination with an underground link- this time with far greater success…. giving us the ‘Waterloo & City Line’ which, with just two stations- one beneath Waterloo and the other beneath Bank Junction, is the London Underground’s shortest line…. “1 mile, 4 furlongs and 680 chains in length” as proposed in 1891.
Work on what was originally dubbed the ‘Waterloo & City Railway‘ commenced on the 18th June 1894 with the sinking of piles near Blackfriars Bridge; the line’s approximate mid-point.
Construction was carried out by John Mowlem & Co Ltd, whose other London works include Admiralty Arch, Battersea Power Station and Tower 42 (formerly the NatWest Tower).
The Waterloo & City Railway was London’s second deep level tube line- the first being the City & South London Railway (now part of the Northern Line) which had opened shortly before in 1890.
Both of these pioneering lines could not have been tunnelled without the aid of the ‘Greathead Shield’; a tunnelling system named after its South-African born inventor, James Henry Greathead.
Essentially an updated version of an earlier system devised by Marc Isambard Brunel, the Greathead Shield consisted of a sturdy metal tube which allowed workers to burrow at a far deeper level, pushing through London’s clay at an average of 10ft a day and installing the tunnel lining behind them as they went.
Sadly, James Henry Greathead died in 1896 aged just 52 and never lived to see the completion of the Waterloo & City Railway.
A statue of the great engineer was placed outside the Royal Exchange in 1994 directly above Bank Station. The plinth upon which Greathead’s figure stands acts as a ventilation shaft for the tunnels below.
During the construction of the Docklands Light Railway in 1987, part of Greathead’s shield was discovered buried deep in the earth beneath Bank. This surviving piece can be seen today at Bank station, having been incorporated into a pedestrian subway linking the DLR to the Waterloo & City Line- just look for the distinctive red arch…
London’s New Tube
At 1pm on July 11th 1898 the Waterloo & City Railway was officially opened by the Duke of Cambridge whom the board of directors treated to a grand luncheon in the new railway’s Waterloo booking hall- which was described as being “capacious enough to afford ample accommodation to the whole of the assembled company.”
The earliest trains to serve the Waterloo & City Railway were built by the Jackson and Sharp Company of Rochester USA, requiring them to be shipped across the Atlantic.
Although derided by The Times as being “decidedly ugly”, the wooden carriages were praised for affording the “maximum accommodation consistent with the diameter of the tunnel- namely 12ft 2inches.”
The American cars remained in use for over 40 years by which point they were beginning to look decidedly shabby. In 1937, one disgruntled commuter described the rolling stock as “antique and uncomfortable”, “musty and dingy” with “lighting arrangements 25 years behind the times.”
The ageing coaches were finally replaced in 1940 by sleek, Art-Deco style metal carriages which were ultra-modern for their time and remained in service well into the 1990s. Archive footage of the new carriages arriving (and the old ones departing) can be viewed below:
Up until the 1990s, the Waterloo & City Line- which has been nicknamed ‘The Drain’ since its earliest days- was run separately from the rest of the tube, first by the South Western Railway and then by British Rail. This set-up made it something of an anomaly, best illustrated by the livery of the carriages which were painted to match their larger, above-ground counterparts.
The Waterloo & City shuttle service was finally absorbed by London Underground in 1993 with the 1940s rolling stock replaced by trains similar to the ones now used on the Central Line.
Because the Waterloo & City Line exists entirely underground, carriages requiring maintenance above ground are winched in and out by a specially designated crane which can be seen beside Waterloo station’s Baylis Road entrance.
During the delivery of the 1940s stock, the winch (which was originally situated where the now defunct Eurostar terminal stands) snapped sending one of the carriages smashing down to the depths…
A peek over the crane pit allows train-buffs a glimpse into the Waterloo depot…
As well as the Victorian carriages the entire infrastructure of ‘the drain’ was also beginning to look very dilapidated by the 1940s and was described in one meeting at the Guildhall a being a “public disgrace.”
Of particular concern was the main pedestrian link at Bank Station.
Unlike other underground stations served by lifts and escalators, Bank’s main link to the deep platform was a long, steep, dusty tunnel of incremental steps, notorious for being a dangerous, crushing bottleneck in which “hundreds of people meet head on and often collide….in the rush hour complete chaos reigns in the tunnel.”
So strenuous was the passage to negotiate that those of a more mature age were advised to avoid the link altogether, the steep tunnel at Bank being “quite an effort for elderly men and not without danger to anyone suffering from a weak heart.”
Although an escalator was proposed as early as 1931 the plan never went through and further attempts at modernization were halted by the onset of WWII.
The Waterloo & City Line finally received a drastic update in autumn 1960 with the introduction of a ‘Travelator’; Britain’s very first major moving walkway.
Taking three years to construct, the pioneering design was built to whisk 10,000 commuters per hour to and from the trains… and no doubt led many Londoners in the early 1960s to dream of an exciting new future in which moving pavements across the capital would become the norm!
The Waterloo & City Line on Film
Due to being primarily aimed at weekday commuter traffic, the Waterloo & City Line has always been closed at weekends (although a Saturday service has recently been introduced).
Because of this regular closure, the line has often proved popular with filmmakers, most notably in the 1998 romantic drama, Sliding Doors starring Gwyneth Paltrow in two parallel storylines which split as she attempts to board a Waterloo & City Line train.
Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that Gwyneth enters the system at Bank but boards her train at Waterloo on the opposite side of the line! (Please click below to watch a clip):
The line has also been used for sci-fi T.V classics such as Adam Adamant, The Tripods and Survivors.
In 1962, wannabe cop, Norman Wisdom found himself in a particularly sticky situation on the Waterloo & City Line after attempting a misdirected citizen’s arrest in his film, On the Beat (please click below to view)…