|Wembley during the Edwardian era, looking north. The nature of the station on the bridge is evident. Fast lines (the original tracks) on left and what are now the slow lines in foreground.|
By the mid 1930s the arrangements at Wembley were proving unsatisfactory and the LMS decided to rebuild the station. The opportunity was also taken to widen the road bridge by 40ft and raft over the north side to allow a row of shops to be built where previously there had just been a brick parapet. The existing station was entirely demolished and a new one built, set back about 100ft from the road . Between the station and the road a new building was erected along the widened bridge with entrances at the extremities to what was in effect an arcade; between the entrances the ground floor frontage was occupied by nine shops facing onto the street. The station was situated within the arcade, with four sets of steps (serving all six platforms) leading down from the southern face. The main ticket office and parcels office was at the east end but there was a secondary ticket office at the western end as well (nearest the busy dc lines). The rearrangement at street level required 100ft of the dc lines’ platforms to be cut back at their northern end and a corresponding 100ft extension at the south end. The works also required extensive alterations to platform awnings and platform buildings. The result was a huge improvement over what had been there before and provided prominent entrances to the high street in addition to substantial property income. The station was renamed Wembley Central in July 1948 as part of the Railway Executive's post-nationalization attempt to reduce duplicated or ambiguous station names.
|View of Wembley station, looking north, in 1938. The new station building and arcade are just about visible, as is the deck for the shops on the north side of the High Street bridge.|
|Right hand entrance to Wembley, soon after completion. The entrance leads to an arcade with station access within.|
|The Wembley Central Development in 1965, looking north, buildings nearing completion. The station frontage on the High Street (top left) is now dwarfed by its surroundings.|
|This 1970s map shows the 1930s station arcade butting up against the new rafted development. The station ticket office is the unmarked white space to the arcade's south, in line with the western arcade entrance.|
The arrangements at Wembley were becoming farcical, especially as traffic was picking up again and the facilities were in so poor a state (ceilings and tiling were in very poor repair and there was water ingress). In addition, uncoordinated development had left the station facilities tucked away and not commanding attention. Around 2004/5 the station operator (then Silverlink) was keen to get developer funding to fund a new station, with support from Brent, Network Rail and TfL. Agreement was finally possible, planning permission was granted and demolition began in 2006. The idea was to get rid of the ‘moderne’ street frontage and arcade to produce a small square and for a property development scheme behind to produce new and much needed modern retail space, housing and offices. It was hoped this might help prime further regeneration of the rather tired surroundings. As part of this a new station building would be provided. Early to be demolished was the 1930s street frontage and part of the 1960s ticket hall, a temporary building frontage being erected. This led to the strange arrangement where access to platforms 5 and 6 emerged, unprotected, in the square, remote from the station (with the platforms being kept locked unless a train was due).
This was all very well on a temporary basis, but unfortunately (as I understand it) the money ran out and these ‘temporary’ arrangements became fixed—the worst of all worlds. It is in this state that London Underground became the station operator in 2007. The temporary station building looked awful and unfinished (it was described by a local political activist and fellow blogger as an ‘allotment shed’ but he later told the Kilburn Times he withdrew the remark as it was an insult to allotment sheds) and it was only just before the Olympics started that it received a hasty £2½ million makeover, including lifts to make the station fully accessible. Despite the orgy of London Underground sign-fixing that followed, there was little more that could be done at street level without the development proceeding.
|The 'temporary' ticket hall - part of the 1960s structure with a vaguely weatherproof makeshift front. This ended up doing duty for about six years. (From the Wembley Matters blog - Brent Green Party).|
|This is an artist's impression of the final scheme as put forward|
|And this is where we are up to by June 2014 (The building is to be a Travelodge hotel, due to be complete 'late Summer' 2014)|