How long has the Highline been disused?

Is a good question…

And one that we don’t have a definitive answer for! We’ve read every book written about the North London Line, and our analysis of Network Rail’s historical assets during the feasibility surveys has also proved inconclusive. So, we reverted to the internet, and when we say the internet, we mean searching through hundreds of geo-tagged photos of Camden on Flickr...

Anyway, the photo below (looking west) was taken by Gordon Edgar on 1 May 1985, and shows a London District unit 501164 on a Richmond to Broad Street service passing the western end of the Camden Road station, and is the latest photo we have found with the four-track still in use.

Image Credit: Gordon Edgar

The infrastructure the Highline would use includes the space where the (now demolished) signal box in the background is, and runs right (east) to the north of the current east and westbound Overground platform (to the south of the Highline), which is where this photo is taken from.

Image Credit: AndrewHA

The two photos above (looking west) are taken by AndrewHA on 10 November 1987, and are the earliest we have found with only double-track in use.

The infrastructure the Highline would use (above left) includes the space to the right (north) of the current eastbound Overground platform, which the train travelling east on a Broad Street service is passing.

And the photo (above right) shows where point where the four-track used to split to form the two platforms of Camden Road station, which was replaced by the pedestrian route to the signal box.

So, at some time between 1 May 1985, and 10 November 1987, the four-track was changed to double-track, and we think this coincided with the closing of Broad Street station in 1986, and/or the short-lived Freightliner Terminal at York Way. And which would make sense if the capacity was no longer needed. So, give or take a year or two, the Highline has been disused for thirty or more years!

(What we do know for certain is that the last of rail sections around Camden Road station were completely removed in 2010 as part of the London Overground developments because we were around to see it happen.)

Does this sound right to you? If you’ve got any historical information about the Camden Highline and would like to share it, please get in touch! highline@camdentownunlimited.com