The never-built railway station for Thamesmead between Abbey Wood and Plumstead

A discovery of old plans for Thamesmead this week revealed something I’d completely forgotten about and doesn’t appear to be all that well known.

When plans for Thamesmead were drawn up in the late 1960s and 1970s a number of ideas were produced to connect this remote piece of marshland and former military test site to the wider world.

Station located beside C-Ring Motorway and upgraded Church Manorway

These included a road bridge under the Thames, a Jubilee Line station and possibly the least known: a new railway station between Abbey Wood and Plumstead. It would have been located alongside a new motorway running from a tunnel through Thamesmead to Falconwood which would have seen large amounts of Plumstead flattened.

The exact location for a station would have been at Church Manorway. It’s a site that recently saw Network Rail’s latest attempt to create the eighth wonder of the world.

Church Manorway bridge recently built by Network Rail

This bridge was built due to Crossrail’s overhead electrification and new tracks. The very same Crossrail / Elizabeth Line that some are now heralding as a saviour for Thamesmead despite being no closer to the town than Abbey Wood station has been for decades.

Motorway would have crossed rail line here with new station interchange

A new station wouldn’t have been the first at this site. A temporary station existed between 1917 and 1920 to serve munitions workers at the Royal Arsenal.

Station site in red beside motorway in blue running to east London.

It’s hard to find information on transport interchange plans, and the planned location was still someway from most of Thamesmead. The image above shows a curved building where the station was proposed.

There are also images of models on the London County Council archive. Click here to view one model which can be zoomed in. That model mostly focuses upon a planned motorway network and excludes many buildings.

Thamesmead in 2019. Homes closest to Abbey Wood station built first. These homes have now been demolished

Presumably buses would have run along the new motorway to Thamesmead’s planned town centre containing a marina, cinema, new shops and homes. Most of that plan was dropped and a retail park eventually built which ignores the natural features of the area including lakes and the Thames.

Aerial view of Thamesmead

The first stage of a town centre for Thamesmead near the Thames surrounded a canal. Then a giant supermarket was built in the 1990s (Morrisons – which took over Safeway) which impacted those formative plans.

Buildings ignore natural features

The London County Council archive page is a treasure trove of what Thamesmead could have been. There’s hundreds of images including man early drawings and models including a planned town centre surrounding a marina. Click here to view all pages linked to Thamesmead.

As for the Jubilee Line, that was delayed for decades and when built in the 1990s ended up diverting at north Greenwich to terminate at Stratford.

The tunnel was never built of course nor motorways linked to Falconwood which would have destroyed large parts of London including Plumstead and Welling. A bridge plan was resurrected in the 2000s without the motorway link and then cancelled. Some of the road network consisting of dual carriageways and grade separated junctions was built. Continual hopes by Greenwich Council of a bus transit scheme linking the town to Abbey Wood and also west to Woolwich and Greenwich have so far come to nought.

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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    7 thoughts on “The never-built railway station for Thamesmead between Abbey Wood and Plumstead

    • TFL still do not give their staff PPE equipment to do
      their job effectively Docklands light rail and London underground included also,this is endangering their lives (staffs lives).
      The Mayor is aware but does not care,instead he turns a blind eye to the corruption and ill management that runs rife in London underground and the DLR one minute hes on national TV stating masks make no difference then in less than 24 hours later hes saying londoners need to wear masks when out and about when making journeys on transport,am i the only one seeing this utterly incompetent person whos the Mayor?? he couldn’t help resolve the knife crime issue earlier and now this he cannot even professionally articulate a point on camera hes out of his depth #Shambolic!

    • I could never understand why a station was not built to serveThamesmead considering it was classed as a new new town back in the day with thousands of new homes built.

      The bus transit scheme is another scheme which has often been talked about over the years but nothing never actually happens.

      A new bus route or routes branded as bus transit system could operate using normal roads with out guided busways and major changes to road layouts with full size electric or hydrogen single decker buses between Thamesmead-Woolwich-Lower Charlton-Greenwich Peninsula-North Greenwich Station-Greenwich. Another route could run between Thamesmead and Canary Wharf via Blackwall Tunnel.

      Making the transit system much quicker easier and cost effective for TFL to Introduce.

    • Yes I agree Graham a guided bus way really is not needed. Just a high frequency reliable bus service using modern energy efficient buses.

      Thamesmead is in definite need of a station whether that be rail, DLR or both. Linking Thamesmead with both Kent and Central London.

    • One of your photos may have shown the route of the proposed ELRC or ELRIC (East London River Crossing) for which I performed the noise impact assessment for the former GLC in the early 80’s. At the time I worked in The Scientific Branch of the council in question. South of a Thames bridge its route would have joined with the Spine Road (now Eastern Way) before travelling south to the A2. I believe that it was the new roads impact on the ancient woodlands at Oxleas that was the main reason for the schemes cancellation.

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