The Saga of the Railway Hotel…

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I live not far from the town
of Edgware, in North West London. I moved into the area about five years ago, but had known this part of London since I was a child. I’ve always been fascinated by unusual or striking buildings, and one such structure has existed in Edgware’s Station Road since the l930s – The Railway Hotel.

Built by the London brewers, Truman, Hanbury & Buxton around 1930/31, the Railway Hotel was a wonderful example of ‘Tudorbethan’ architecture that was popular in so many of the newly developed suburbs in Britain in the inter-war period. These large public houses were put up in a style that would be reassuringly old-looking, rather than so much of the start art deco and modernist homes and commercial buildings of the time. The Hotel used a great deal of timber, and featured superb carved decoration. To one side was an ‘Off Sales’ (brewery owned off licence), built in the same style, joined to the main building by a decorative archway. The whole feel was of a Seventeenth-century coaching inn, which made sense, because only a few yards away at the end of Station Road, was the old Roman road of Watling Street (although this section is referred to as Edgware Road, the same route that starts at Marble Arch in Central London). This route was busy coaching route out of London, and regularly spaced coaching inns served this traffic.

The Railway Hotel was very close to the original Edgware railway station, (long since gone now, and replaced by a Sainsbury’s supermarket), and was clearly picking up on trade from the fast-growing suburb that was developing as a result on the new Northern line extension of the London Underground. The hotel would also be picking up on the business of ‘commercial travellers’, or salesmen, who be visiting the area, keen to pick up orders from all the new shops and businesses that were popping up.

 

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The Hotel became, along with huge new cinema across the road and the Northern line station, a fixture of Edgware town centre’s feel.

However, with the passing of time, pubs like this found it increasing difficult to trade and by 2008, the Railway Hotel had closed down.

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Boarded-up and forlorn, this wonderful building sat, for the next ten years without any real purpose. However, it was, and still is a Historic England Grade 2 listed structure. This was probably the only thing that stopped it from being raised to the ground. A succession of owners came and went, doing nothing with the building, other than letting it get more dilapidated. Presumably it was sold on each time because new owners couldn’t find a way of making it pay, and once they became aware of the restrictions a listing has, they lost interest. In more recent years it’s front and rear had been used as a used car lot, a coach turn -around for services to Eastern Europe (which is ironic given the Hotel’s look of an old-fashioned coaching inn), and a car wash.

A sign (quite literally) of the Railway Hotel’s decline came when the huge wooden sign post that sat outside the forecourt became rotten, and had to be removed.  Then there have also been at least two fires, fortunately neither of which caused too much serious damage.

I became fixated with the building in the last few years. I tweeted vigorously on my account @Superfast72 using the tag #railwayhoteledgware . If you can spare the time, you can go and check these out, they do demonstrate the frustration I, and other like-minded souls, had.  I have to say a big thank you to Roger Tichborne who runs the @barneteye blog and tweet. Roger has regularly put my moans and gripes onto his ‘tweets of the week’.

So now we move onto September 2018, and I was made aware that after all these years work was beginning on ‘renovating’ the Railway Hotel.  I am been lead to believe that the ground floor will be a Lebanese Restaurant,  whilst the top floors will be turned into flats.

Some concern has been made that the renovation is being done by a company that has no website and no obvious credentials in restoring listed buildings, but one hopes both Barnet Council and Historic England will keep a close eye and check on the work.

So, a happier time for this building awaits one hopes. It’s just a shame it will never be what it once was.

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