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Northern Line

The Northern Line is a deep-level tube line of the London Underground, coloured black on the Tube map. With two routes through the central area, it is one of the more complicated lines on the system.

Table of contents
1 Stations
2 History
3 External links


High Barnet branch

Edgware branch

Camden Town

The junctions which connect the two northern branches of the Northern Line to the two central branches are just south of Camden Town station. The station has a pair of platforms on each of the two northern branches, and southbound trains can depart toward either Charing Cross or Bank from either of the two southbound platforms. Since the derailment of a train at Camden Town in 2003 which damaged points and signals, trains have not been crossing here, trains coming from Edgware use the Bank branch, and trains from High Barnet/Mill Hill East use the Charing Cross branch.

Charing Cross branch

(Also known as the West End branch.)

Southbound trains on this branch often terminate at Kennington, where they are able to reverse by means of a loop track.

Bank branch

(Also known as the City Branch.)

Morden branch


Formation of the Northern Line

The City and South London Railway, London's first deep-level tube railway, was built under the supervision of James Henry Greathead who had been responsible, with Peter W. Barlow, for the Tower Subway. It opened in 1890 from Stockwell to a now-disused station at King William Street; the latter was inconveniently placed and unable to cope with the traffic, so in 1900 a new route to Moorgate via Bank was opened. By 1907 the CSLR had been extended to run from Clapham Common to Euston.

The Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway (known as the "Hampstead Tube") was opened in 1907 and ran from Charing Cross (known for many years as Strand) to Golders Green and Highgate (now known as Archway). It was extended south by one stop to Embankment in 1914.

In 1913 the two lines came into common ownership, and during the 1920s connections were built so that the two lines joined at Camden Town and Kennington. The tunnels of the CSLR were also expanded to match the standard size and the lines were extended to Morden in the south and Edgware in the north. The resulting line became known as the Morden-Edgware Line, and was eventually named the Northern Line in 1937.

After Nationalisation in 1933 the Northern City Line, which ran from Moorgate to Finsbury Park, was part of the Underground; it was operated as part of the Northern Line, though it was never connected to it.

The Northern Heights plan

In the 1930s an ambitious plan (the "Northern Heights") was hatched to link the Highgate branch and the Northern City Line to a suburban branch line which ran on the surface from Finsbury Park to Edgware via Highgate, with branches to Alexandra Palace and High Barnet. The line would also be extended beyond Edgware to Bushey Heath and a new depot at Aldenham. This would involve electrification of the surface line (served by steam trains at the time) and the construction of two new stretches of track: a connection between the Northern City and Finsbury Park station on the surface, and an extension of the Highgate branch tube to the LNER line near East Finchley via new deep-level platforms below the existing Highgate station.

Work began in the late 1930s, but was disrupted by the start of the War. Sufficient progress had been made on the Highgate link and the High Barnet branch that they were allowed to continue and opened in 1941. A single track of the LNER line to Edgware was electrified as far as Mill Hill in order to serve the barracks there, thus forming the Northern Line as it is today. Work on the other elements of the plan was suspended.

After the War, the area beyond Edgware was made part of the Green Belt, and the potential demand for services from Bushey Heath thus vanished. Available funds were directed towards completing the eastern extension of the Central Line instead, and the Northern Heights plan was dropped. The line from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace via the surface platforms at Highgate was closed to passenger traffic in 1954.

The suburban railway heritage of the High Barnet branch beyond Highgate can be seen in the design of the stations.

More recent developments

In 1975 the Northern City Line, known by that time as the Highbury branch, became part of British Rail. It is now served by WAGN.

In the 1980s and 1990s the line was nicknamed the "Misery Line", though its reputation improved somewhat after the introduction of new rolling stock in the late 1990s.

External links