Tuesday July 29th, for most commuters in London was the day to make a speedy exit from the Metropolis before the London Underground system shuddered to a stop as drivers walked out for a one day stoppage at 18.30. Bemused office workers and other mortals, exhausted from their day's labour and red-faced by the exertion required to mount the steep flight of stairs from North Dulwich's Down Platform, were surprised to be greeted by what appeared to be a large reception committee in front of the station. And what an impressive reception committee it was. Headed by Dulwich's MP Tessa Jowell, it included virtually the entire executive committee of the Dulwich Society, supported by their President and at least one Vice-President. Then there was the managing director of Southern Railways, officials from Southwark Council, local councillors of various political persuasions, the chief executive of the Dulwich Estate and suited gentlemen who could not be identified but looked very important.
It was all to celebrate the completion of the restoration of the station's facade and the official opening of the York paved forecourt as Dulwich's first piazza.
The restoration arose out of Tessa Jowell's 'Safer Stations Initiative' (in the years before she was elected as Dulwich's MP) and so the project was probably 10 years in gestation! It is also fair to say that without the tenacity of the Dulwich Society's Transport sub-committee under its active chairman, Alastair Hanton it might never have happened at all. In the event the restoration amply justified the splendid celebration that ensued. Accompanied with wine and nibbles, generously supplied by Hampton's International Estates' Agents who share the premises with station, all those who had contributed both financially or practically, as contractors, were presented with a 'before and after' folder of photographs of the station.
Southwark Building Design Service submitted the entry for restoration works and Southwark Council contributed £25,000 under its regeneration programme for the improvements to the forecourt and pavement area. The Railway Heritage Trust paid £83,227 in order that the masonry in the station's loggia and the forecourt's decorative walls and associated railings could be repaired. Seltrans (Division of Railtrack) contributed £57,000 for the cleaning and renovation of the station frontage and The Dulwich Society gave £3000. The Society's contribution allowed the forecourt to be paved in York stone.
Both the exiting commuters and the Railway Heritage Trust expressed serious concern however over the condition of the ticket hall, platforms and stairs. As Charles Horton, Managing Director of Southern Trains was at the ceremony your reporter took the opportunity of relaying these concerns to him. Mr Horton gave an undertaking that the following list of improvements would be completed by Christmas.
1. In conjunction with Transport for London new CCTV monitors will be installed to deter vandalism and graffiti.
2. The station will be locked at night.
3. Both platforms and the ticket hall will be repainted in a brighter colour scheme by the end of the year.
4. All graffiti will be removed.
5. All the existing signage will be replaced with vitreous enamelled signs from which graffiti is easily removed.
6. There will be a regular team of cleaners to remove graffiti.
7. Improved ticket issuing facilities are to be installed.
North Dulwich Station and the adjoining railway bridge were built in 1866 for the London Brighton and South Coast Railway Company. The station was designed by Charles Barry jnr., the surveyor of what was then Alleyn's College of God's Gift (hence the initials A.C. on the heraldic shields which decorate the bridge). North Dulwich Station is the most elaborate of the three railway stations built on Dulwich land and was intended by this ambitious architect to compliment other grand schemes he envisaged in putting Dulwich on the map. He also caused the College's monogram to be displayed prominently on railway bridges and viaducts over the estate.
Described by Nikolaus Pevsner as remarkably fine and unusually ornate, North Dulwich is built in a hybrid Romanesque style in red brick with a considerable amount of decorative plasterwork and stone decoration. It has a recessed entrance area (loggia) featuring stone columns supporting three arches with human mask keystones. The delicate pierced tracery parapet was unfortunately removed in the 1970's, together with the fine large clustered chimney stacks. The station is listed Grade ll.