For more than a decade Camden Goods Depot was the terminus for goods traffic. In 1851 the rail freight connection to London docks was made with the completion of the East and West India Docks and Birmingham Junction Railway, and this became the North London Railway (NLR) in 1853 and was realigned in 1854. The NLR at Camden Goods Depot has remained essentially unchanged since.
The growth of mainline and suburban traffic has required periodic track additions and realignment, but these have taken place outside the main area of the Goods Depot, the area of which was therefore little affected by the railway for over 100 years from the middle of the 19th century to the end of the steam era in the 1960s.
The difference in level was also created by vaults, generally erected to support various buildings at the level of the railway embankment, and carry their loads down to foundations in the natural ground.
Interchange Warehouse from Camden Lock Place
(Peter Darley, 2008)
The Act specified that all locomotives and stationary engines should consume their smoke. Therefore coke, which burns cleanly, was used initially, produced by coke ovens on a site alongside the canal where coal could be delivered by barge. Only later, when firebox efficiency had been improved, could coal be used as a fuel.
The layout of the new station was in the hands of Joseph Baxendale, a director of Pickfords who served as the railway company’s goods superintendent for a few months in 1839. The first Camden Station Goods Depot in 1839, shown in the figure, included:
Camden Goods Depot of 1839
Vaults were created for the stationary winding engine house and the basement of the locomotive engine house. Other vaults were erected under the goods sidings and No. 1 Goods Shed, near the south-east corner of the site. Stables there were rented by Pickfords and other tenants by 1840. These goods sidings were constructed in the curious pinnate form shown in the plan above, with spur sidings branching out on either side of a "stem" at angles of about 60 degrees.
Planning of the new layout shown below was led by Robert Dockray as resident engineer.
Camden Goods Depot: reconstruction of 1847
(Network Rail archives)
(Network Rail archives)
There was a 600 ft (183 m) long cattle landing area with pens near to the Roundhouse for live cattle that would then have been driven to Smithfield Market. The housing shown in the plan on the south side of the Hampstead Road was progressively purchased by the railway company and used for senior staff before being demolished as the goods yard expanded.
Following arrangements made with the Regent’s Canal Company, the LNWR proceeded with the construction of an additional railway bridge between the Camden Goods Depot and the warehouse (Shed No. 2) south of the canal that had been built by Pickford & Co. and was now rented to Pickfords by the LNWR.
The LNWR also enlarged the former Semple’s Wharf which had been first leased and then purchased in 1847. Railway communication with the wharf was created by means of a reversing spur. This was followed by the erection of a warehouse for Allsopp on the west side of the basin to accommodate the beer trade.
The rail freight connection to London docks was not made until the completion of the East and West India Docks and Birmingham Junction Railway in 1851. The name was changed to the North London Railway (NLR) in 1853. The tracks were aligned over the original goods sidings as shown in the plan, requiring the construction of a viaduct and the demolition of the railway offices as the line approached the bridge over the Hampstead Road. The skew arch that carried the NLR over the reversing spur to the LNWR interchange dock is shown in the plan, but the interchange facilities are not shown.
Goods Depot configuration with North London Railway, 1852
(National Archives/CRHT1837 on Flickr)
Camden Goods Depot: Reconstruction of 1854-6
(Peter Darley, from plans in National Archives)
The cattle pens were relocated to Maiden Lane on the NLR in time for the opening of the Caledonian Cattle Market in 1855, thus providing a ready access to the City.
Houses alongside the Hampstead Road and ranges of stables that had been built only a few years previously were cleared away and the land up to the road east and west of the Roundhouse was raised to railway level behind a massive new retaining wall, with a road access ramp up from the east. This provided space for much needed coal sidings. Further sidings were provided to serve coal drops which stood in front of the 1847 vaults, separated from them by a stable yard. The vaults were used from the beginning for stabling and storage.
The reconstruction of 1854-6 left space above the north-east corner of the 1847 vaults for a much smaller workshop, brick-built, 105 ft by 35 ft (32 m by 11 m), with roof trusses of queen-rod construction. This workshop building was converted in the 1880s, with an inserted floor, as part of Gilbey’s No. 4 Bond. It stood until the 1980s.
The relocation of the NLR left an almond-shaped remnant of land between the road and the railway. The next phase of stables development took place both here in Stables Yard, with the building of four new stable ranges, and also on the south side of Gloucester Road. Horse tunnels were provided to link these stables with the goods yard.
As part of the remodelling, the ground level adjacent to the canal interchange basin was raised, partly on vaults, to the main level of the goods yard, and railway lines extended at this high level towards the edge of the canal. The interchange basin was realigned and enlarged to its present size. West of the basin, vaults of similar construction to the earlier vaults supported another goods shed. These vaults were leased to Allsopps for storage of beers and ales. The arrangement was completed in 1856 and is shown above.
In 1864 the LNWR built a goods shed to replace several smaller scattered goods facilities. This had a plan area of 100,000 square feet and was the largest at that time in the country. It was further enlarged in 1931. By that time shunting with horses had largely been replaced by the use of hydraulic or electric capstans, while cartage operations had been nationalised under the railway company’s direct management and horses were being superseded by motor vehicles.
In October 1866 there were 100 locomotives stationed at Camden: 33 passenger, 4 banking, 46 main line goods, 15 shunting, and 2 ballast engines, but it is not recorded if any of these were in the Roundhouse.
The layout of the Goods Depot from an aerial photograph taken in 1948 is shown below.
Aerial photograph of Goods Depot, 1948
(English Heritage/National Monuments Record)