Until I met my wife, I don’t think I’d heard of Fenchurch Street, though it is on the original Monopoly board game, so I might have noted the name, without ever truly being aware of this small yet mighty London terminus.
Fenchurch Street is the terminus of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, also known as the Essex Thameside Line. Destinations include Chafford Hundred (for the Lakeside Shopping Centre), Dagenham, Barking, Upminster, Tilbury, Basildon, Southend and Shoeburyness.
Designed by William Tite, the station opened on the 20th of July 1841, and was the first station to open in the City of London (the core of the town, if you like).
The arrangement of routes in and out of Fenchurch Street is more complicated than the station’s own history, and reflects the amalgamation of different companies and their lines, over the course of time. That said, Fenchurch Street did undergo a major revamp in 1935, and another in 1994 (the entire station closed for seven weeks, virtually unprecedented, yet necessary), owing to overcrowding, and the desperate need to modernise facilities.
Fenchurch Street is quite unique, in that it only has four platforms. Having travelled through Fenchurch during Friday evening rush hour, I can testify to how busy such a small station can get, so I can only imagine what it was once like. Efforts have been made to improve the entry and exit points (aside from the main entrance, there is a side entrance, more on that in a moment), to improve passenger flow.
The side entrance is the one I am most familiar with, due to an unusual quirk of Fenchurch Street. The station does not have direct access to the Underground! There were plans to link the Jubilee Line to the station, but during the line’s construction in the 70s and 80s, rising costs ended those plans. Instead, passengers have a short walk to Tower Hill Underground Station, and can take in a rather epic view of the Tower of London in the process. All in all, it’s quite picturesque.