The history of London’s Olympic stations revealed

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Since London’s first Olympics in 1908, the capital’s rail network has been at the centre of the Games’ success.

A new section in Network Rail’s virtual archive, which was launched in February, is celebrating the role of some of the stations which will be used by millions of spectators throughout the event.

Waterloo. London & South Western Railway. Victory Arch ‘Elevation of Main Entrance’. Photo: Network Rail.

Architectural plans and drawings of some of the capital’s biggest and busiest stations – including King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, London Bridge and Stratford – have been added to the archive, including detailed information about their history.

Vicky Stretch, Network Rail’s archivist, said: “With millions of visitors to Britain this summer, we wanted to add a special section on those stations in the capital that everyone will pass through.

“With everyone focused on this fortnight, it’s fascinating to also look back at how things were different in 1908 and 1948 as the rail sector was quite different then.”

In 2012, 11 million spectators are predicted to make their way to Olympic venues around the city, with 80 per cent expected to travel by rail.

In stark contrast to the incredible anticipation and preparation ahead of this year’s event, the 1908 Games were overshadowed by the Franco-British Exhibition, which was being held at the same time.

Forty years later, as London prepared to host the Games for a second time, the newly-nationalised British Railways showed its support for the Olympics by providing the railways with special Olympic flags and Olympic shields.

“We hope that the archive helps people to understand the incredibly detailed and beautiful architectural work carried out by some of the world’s greatest engineers, and are still important for engineers working for us today,” added Vicky Stretch.

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