Beeston Place, SW1W

Road in/near Victoria, existing between the 1750s and now

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Road · Victoria · SW1W ·

Beeston Place was formerly part of the Grosvenor family estate and the family owned land in Beeston, Cheshire.

The first name of the street was Ranelagh Street which itself was renamed as Ebury Street before the northern part began to go under the separate name of Beeston Place.

The oldest roads in the area were what are now Lower Grosvenor Place, Hobart Place, Ebury Street, Beeston Place and Buckingham Palace Road, all of which were established by the mid 18th century, and may be before this. The Rocque map shows a path where Beeston Place would run.

The 1792 Horwood map delineates the line of King’s Row (Buckingham Palace Road). It also shows that Ranelagh Street had been developed, and this street provides the axis by which today’s Grosvenor Gardens were formed. Ranelagh Street, Arabella Row, Belgrave Place and Eaton Street surrounded a block, which was subdivided by Eaton Lane North. Towards the end of the 18th century, the distinctive triangular shape of the northern block of Grosvenor Gardens was emerging.

Thomas Cundy was both the architect and main builder of Ranelagh Street. He ended up owing several leasehold houses here and was employed by the Grosvenor Estate to make a building plan for their land in Mayfair. He died in 1825 but was succeeded by his son - also called Thomas Cundy. The younger Thomas would go on to transform Belgravia.

In Beeston Place is the Goring Hotel. Here, the Duchess of Cambridge (formerly Kate Middleton) spent the night before her wedding to Prince William in 2011.

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The railways largely replaced the canals as a means of transport. Uniquely for a main line station, Victoria station was built on top of one.

Before the railway arrived in 1862, this area - like the area immediately south of it - was known as Pimlico. The Grosvenor Canal ended in a large basin here.

Victoria station’s origins lie with the Great Exhibition of 1851, when a railway called the West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway came into existence, serving the site of the exhibition halls which had been transferred to Sydenham from Hyde Park. The terminus of that railway was at Stewarts Lane in Battersea on the south side of the river. In 1858 a joint enterprise was set up to take trains over the river: it was entitled the Victoria Station and Pimlico Railway; and was a mile and a quarter in length. The railway was owned by four railway companies: the Great Western (GWR); London & North Western (LNWR); the London, Brighton and South Coast (LBSCR); and the London Chatham and Dover Railways (LCDR). It was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1858.

The station was built in two parts: those on the western side, opened in 1862, with six platforms, ten tracks and an hotel (the 300-bedroom Grosvenor) were occupied by the Brighton company; whilst adjacent, and in the same year, the Chatham company were to occupy a less imposing wooden-fronted building. The latter’s station had nine tracks and was shared by broad-gauge trains of the GWR, whose trains arrived from Southall via the West London Extension Joint Railway through Chelsea. The GWR remained part owner of the station until 1932, although its trains had long since ceased to use it. Each side of the station had its own entrance and a separate station master; a wall between the two sections effectively emphasised that fact.

At the start of the twentieth century both parts of the station were rebuilt. It now had a decent frontage and forecourt, but not as yet a unified existence. Work on the Brighton side was completed in 1908 and was carried out in red brick; the Grosvenor Hotel was rebuilt at the same time. The Chatham side, in a Edwardian style with baroque elements, designed by Alfred Bloomfield, was completed a year later. The two sections were eventually connected in 1924 by removing part of a screen wall, when the platforms were renumbered as an entity. The station was redeveloped internally in the 1980s, with the addition of shops within the concourse, and above the western platforms.

The station was now serving boat trains, and during WWI it became the hub of trains carrying soldiers to and from France, many of them wounded. After the war the Continental steamer traffic became concentrated there, including the most famous of those trains, the Golden Arrow. The area around the station also became a site for other other forms of transport: a bus station in the forecourt; a coach terminal to the south; and it is now the terminal for trains serving Gatwick Airport.

Victoria is also well-served by London underground. The sub-surface Circle and District Lines opened on December 24, 1868; and the Victoria Line line came to Victoria Station with the third phase of construction of the line - the station’s platforms were opened on March 7, 1969, six months after the Victoria line had started running in outer London.
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