Stables. Built 1882-3 for the London and North-Western Railway. Designed by the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) Engineer’s Department. Extended 1897. C20 conversion to market use.
Reasons for Designation
The Horse Hospital, Stables Yard is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest and intactness: a fine example of a C19 industrial stabling complete with horse ramps and interior fittings, including stalls, mangers and hay racks;
* Historic interest and group value: an important component of the Camden Goods Depot, one of the most complete groups of C19 railway buildings and associated canal structures in England.
The Camden Goods Depot was originally constructed as the London terminus for goods traffic on the London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR), the capital’s first inter-city main line railway and the largest civil engineering project yet attempted in the country. The site was chosen by Robert Stephenson (1803-59), the company’s engineer, since it allowed interconnection for freight with the London docks via the Regent’s Canal, built 1812-1820.
Work started on a 25-acre site north of the canal purchased from Lord Southampton in January 1837 and the goods depot opened to traffic in 1839. The site included the stationary winding engine house for pulling trains up the inline from Euston to Camden (listed at Grade II*); a locomotive house; 18 coke ovens for making smokeless fuel for locomotives; two goods sheds and stabling for 50 horses; stores and a wagon repair shop. There were also cattle pens and offices. The sidings, the locomotive shed and No.1 Goods Shed were all constructed on brick vaults. Further goods sheds and stabling was subsequently built for the public carriers, such as Pickford & Co, who had rights to the distribution of goods on the L&BR until 1846 when the L&BR decided to carry out the carriage of goods through their own agents – the same year L&BR merged with other lines to become the London and North-Western Railway (LNWR). The Pickford goods shed was built in 1841 (enlarged in 1845) by William Cubitt (1791-1863) on the south side of the canal and linked to the goods yard by a second wooden railway bridge and was the first such rail, road and canal interchange building
In 1846-8 due to the rapid growth in passenger and goods traffic and the increase in locomotive size, the Goods Depot was overhauled to the designs of the Resident Engineer, Robert Dockray (1811-71). New structures were built, including two engine houses, notably that for goods engines (now the Roundhouse – listed at Grade II*) to the north of the main line tracks, and one for passenger engines to the south (demolished in 1966). There was also a construction shop for repairs to the north of No. 1 Goods Shed and other structures including a new railway bridge to the former Pickford & Co warehouse.
In 1854-6 another major upgrading of the site was undertaken following the construction of the rail link to the London docks in 1851, and further increases in goods traffic which required a larger marshalling yard. The North London Railway (NLR) lines were repositioned to the north of the site and the recently built construction shop dismantled (leaving its vaults) to make way for this. Sidings were extended to the edge of the canal either side of the interchange basin which was realigned and enlarged to its present size. As a result of these changes in layout a new stables yard was constructed between the NLR tracks and the Hampstead Road. This contained four new stable ranges with a horse tunnel (the Eastern Horse Tunnel) linking them to the marshalling yards to the south. At the same time further stables were built on the western side of the mainline tracks off Gloucester Road (now Gloucester Avenue) and linked to the goods depot by the Western Horse Tunnel.
Further changes to the site took place in the later C19 including the construction of the LNWR goods shed in 1864, then the largest in the country (enlarged in 1931 and subsequently demolished). The goods depot closed around 1980.
The surviving elements of Camden Goods Yard, along with the Roundhouse, stationary winding engine house, Primrose Hill Tunnel Eastern Portals (also listed at Grade II*) and Regent’s Canal represent a particularly important concentration of C19 transport and industrial buildings illustrating the development of canal and rail goods shipment.
The stables and ‘Horse Hospital’
Victorian railway goods depots required large numbers of horses for the transfer of goods and shunting of wagons. At its peak, around 700-800 horses were used at the Camden Goods Depot and by the early 1900s the LNWR provided accommodation for something like 6,000 horses nationally.
Stabling for 50 horses at the original 1839 goods depot was provided in the vaults below the railway sidings. By 1849, increased goods traffic meant that 427 horses were employed on the site. As part of the 1846-7 remodelling, four stable blocks, with stalls for 168 horses, were built between the sidings and Chalk Farm Road and let to tenants, whilst other horses were stabled in vaults below the Construction Shop and the Pickford’s warehouse on the east side of the canal. In 1854-6, the further remodelling of the depot resulted in the demolition of the original free-standing stable blocks and the construction of the present blocks to the south-east. The four blocks are estimated to have stabled 162 horses and Stables Yard was linked to the rest of the depot by the Eastern Horse Tunnel. The Horse Hospital, as it came to be known, was built to the north-west of the other stables in 1882-3 and extended to the south-east in 1897. The first phase accommodated 92 horses with 40 more in the second phase.
Major additional stabling had also been provided in about 1855 on the southwest side of Gloucester Road and more stable ranges on the north side in 1876. Both were linked to the Western Horse Tunnel, the second group by the existing horse stairs. The first group was demolished in the 1960s (to make way for Waterside Place) and the second group in 2000.
The Horse Hospital has been converted to use as shops with a music venue on the upper floor.
The building consists of two adjoining ranges, the larger western range dating to 1882-3 and the eastern to 1897, built on a narrow sloping site along the boundary wall to Chalk Farm Road. The building is of yellow stock brick laid in English bond and a pitched slate roof with two sets of wooden ventilation louvers on the ridge of the western range. Details are in red brick consisting of floor bands, dentilled cornices, segmental window heads and oculi to the end gables of the western range (that to the eastern gable obscured by the later range). The two-storey southern elevation is stepped back to mark the building phases. The first phase comprises five bays and had accommodation for 92 horses using both storeys. The second phase comprises three two-storey stable bays (with the easternmost bay stepped back) and a single-storey mess with a hipped roof on the eastern end. This accommodated a further 40 horses.
The bays of the western range are divided by brick pilaster strips into panels of plain brickwork, relieved by pairs of small segmental-headed windows set high up under a red brick dentil cornice. The ground-floor bays have pairs of cast-iron pilasters with classical detailing either side of wide openings and supporting cast-iron girders. The openings were originally flanked by large multi-pane wooden windows but this arrangement survives intact only in the central bay, others having been altered to incorporate varying modern shop fronts, some retaining the original upper windows. The large openings indicate that the building was probably originally intended to be used as cart sheds rather than solely as stabling. Due to the slope of the land, the northern elevation is expressed externally as a single-storey, detailed in the same manner as the upper storey of the south elevation. Two window openings towards the centre of the elevation have been converted into doorways opening onto a modern entrance platform. The upper storey of the west gable end has a central doorway flanked by paired windows and opening onto a raised brick platform reached from the horse ramp which curves round the west end of the building. At ground floor level is a small lean-to with sloping slate roof, originally the boiler house.
The eastern range is simpler with the side elevations having a continuous run of upper storey windows of the same pattern as the west range. This arrangement was repeated, with larger windows, on the ground floor but some windows have been converted into doors including a large carriage entrance. The northern elevation has low windows on the ground floor due to the slope of the land and a large arched entrance with blue engineering brick quoins at the west end. This was originally entered via a short horse ramp from the setted roadway on the embankment running along the north of the building but has now been re-modelled as steps.
The 1883 range has cast-iron columns with bell capitals, supporting brick jack arching on the ground floor and timber roof trusses on the upper floor. The original brick-paved floors survive on both floors. The western section of the first floor retains twelve horse stalls with iron doorposts and timber boxes below the iron grilles and rails. Some stalls retain their mangers and hay racks and the remains of the wooden ventilation shafts. The stalls were used for the resting of tired or lame horses and their existence probably accounts for the building becoming known as the ‘Horse Hospital’ although it was unlikely to have been used for veterinary purposes. No stable fittings survive on the ground floor.
The interior of the 1897 range is plainer with I-section stanchions supporting the brick jack arching. No stable fittings survive in this range.
The high boundary wall to Chalk Farm Road, north of the Horse Hospital, was built in 1854-6 to retain the fill deposited to raise the level of the Camden Goods Depot. The wall is of multi-coloured stock brick laid in English bond with broad brick piers and stone coping. The infill between the wall and the horse hospital is topped by a sloping roadway with stone setts and kerbs of stone sleeper blocks from the early days of the railway (the modern stalls which line the northern side of the roadway are not of special interest). At the west end of the building it joins the horse ramp which curves round the western end of the Horse Hospital and gave additional access to its upper storey. The horse ramp has brick retaining walls with stone copings and a stoned setted ramp. The curve to the east is a later realignment.