Waterloo station’s 170th birthday celebrated with a day to remember

Waterloo station’s 170th birthday celebrated with a day to remember

Thursday 12th July 2018
Waterloo station’s 170th birthday celebrated with a day to remember 

To mark Waterloo station’s 170th birthday, Network Rail and South Western Railway got together to celebrate the occasion in style on Wednesday 11 July, where customers at the station enjoyed festivities including  giveaways, a military brass band, a gospel choir and an amazing birthday cake.

The star of the show was Don Buckley, 79, a South Western Railway employee believed to be Britain’s longest-serving member of railway staff. 
Waterloo Station 170th Birthday | South Western Railway
Britain’s longest serving railway employee, Don Buckley (right) with South Western Railway’s MD, Andy Mellors

Don joined Waterloo’s station team in 1953, aged just 14. He was supposed to go to Euston station to start a job there as a messenger, but arrived at Waterloo after jumping into taxi and asking to be taken to the big station in London. He remains working there today, 65 years later!
At the station, Don helps visually impaired and disabled people make their way around the station, as well as providing his unmatched knowledge of the station to passengers needing directions or assistance. Don said: 
“We’re here to help people wherever we can, I’ve made some great relationships with people I always see at the station - they always stop to say hello. 
“Some of the people I’ve met here over the years are unbelievable. I once took Sir Stanley Matthews’ suitcase - he gave me 4 shillings. I helped carry lots of people’s luggage over the years. Roger Moore tipped me £10, and I took Alfred Hitchcock’s as well. I wasn’t too fond of him though because he had a very heavy suitcase full of books! When they were making that Bourne film here they told me I couldn’t go up a flight of stairs, well, I did, and that young man Matt Damon opened the gate for me. 
“The station has changed a lot while I’ve been here, but it’s still the station I love, and I think it’ll be fantastic when the former International Terminal re-opens.” 
Highlights of the event included:

  • Displays showing artwork by pupils from the Thomson House Primary School under the famous clock. The artwork was inspired by the station itself and around 30 pupils and teachers visited the station to see their work displayed, and to talk about their pictures to senior representatives from Network Rail and South Western Railway
Waterloo Station 170th Birthday | South Western Railway
Pupils from Thomson House Primary School talk about their work with Andy
  • Customers were given free re-useable water bottles when they dropped by to say hello to staff at South Western Railway’s sustainability stand. At the stand, they learned more about the company’s plans for a sustainable future. If you want to learn more about South Western Railway’s plans for a sustainable future, visit https://www.southwesternrailway.com/other/about-us/our-plan/sustainability 
Waterloo Station 170th Birthday | South Western Railway
Talking sustainability – a customer gets the lowdown on our plans
  • Customers and staff were wowed by a fantastic cake which was an accurate rendition of the Victory Arch main entrance to the station – itself a piece of artwork, and made by local and station retailer, Lola’s Cupcakes. Rather than cutting up the cake, it will be kept for posterity -  but Customers didn’t lose out – Vauxhall MP, Kate Hoey and Lambeth Mayor, Christopher Wellbelove were on hand to cut into two further sets of cakes made in the shape of ‘170’, which were then sliced and distributed to the delight of passers-by
Waterloo Station 170th Birthday | South Western Railway Waterloo Station 170th Birthday | South Western Railway Waterloo Station 170th Birthday | South Western Railway
Network Rail’s Cem Davies; Lambeth Mayor, Christopher Wellbelove and Vauxhall MP, Kate Hoey cut the cake - A work of art – the cake made by Lola’s Cupcakes - Cake for everyone! Customers enjoy a slice as they pass through the station
  • Customers passing through the station were serenaded with uplifting tunes played by the Coldstream Guards band and with some belting songs performed by the Power House Gospel Choir. 
Waterloo Station 170th Birthday | South Western Railway
  • At the ticket office and on the concourse, customers were given plenty of freebies from station retailers such as coffee and food vouchers, discount vouchers and free samples

170 years of Waterloo – did you know that:
  • Waterloo was the last London terminus to provide steam powered services. The last steam train went to Bournemouth in 1967. 
  • When Waterloo opened in 1848 there were just 14 trains a day to and from the station. 
  • The main entrance, known as Victory Arch, is a Grade II listed building. 
  • There are 28 escalators at Waterloo, more than any other station. 
  • You can go by train from Waterloo station to Waterloo in Belgium in approximately 3 hours, changing at Oxford Circus, Kings Cross and Brussels.
  • Waterloo once had its own cinema near platform 1. It was operational from 1934-1970.
  • The original station was added to in stages to accommodate increasing passenger numbers until it was eventually rebuilt between 1903 and 1922 – most of the “original” building seen today dates from that period. 
  • Great train robber Buster Edwards set up flower stall outside the station after his release from jail in 1975.
  • The station’s arches were used as air raid shelters during WWII.
  • Scenes from Bond film Skyfall and the Bourne Ultimatum were filmed at Waterloo. 
  • Waterloo is now Britain’s busiest train station with 99.4 million journeys a year. 

South Western Railway is investing £1.2bn over the course of the franchise to deliver improvements that will meet the needs of the customers and communities it serves. For information on this, please visit: https://www.southwesternrailway.com/other/about-us/our-plan