Underground railway station, 1930-1 by Charles Holden. Minor later alterations.
Reasons for Designation
Sudbury Town Underground station is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the elegantly proportioned, boldly massed, brick and concrete booking hall with its cantilevered canopies and curved waiting room, is an effective landmark and impressive interior space. Its large panels of glazing making it particularly evocative when lit at night
* Historic interest: the Sudbury Town 'box' was the prototype for Charles Holden's ground-breaking Modernist designs for the Piccadilly Line extensions of the early 1930s. These were of great importance for introducing rational modern design based on Continental models to a wider public and for imposing a brand image to buildings and design when this was still novel. They were widely praised in the architectural press at the time and still remain influential today
* Innovative construction: the use of reinforced concrete for the booking hall roof and canopies was new to station design in this country
* Intactness: one of the best preserved of Holden's Piccadilly Line stations, it includes notable features such as the World War One period passimeter, integral shop unit and refreshment area and unique enamel London Underground window roundels
Sudbury Town station was built as part of the north-westward extension of the Piccadilly Line from Ealing Common to Uxbridge on tracks originally owned by the Metropolitan Railway (from South Harrow to Uxbridge, opened in 1904) and Metropolitan District Railway (from South Harrow to Ealing Common, opened in 1903). The Piccadilly Line took over the running of these tracks between 1932 and 1933 from the Metropolitan and District Lines enabling a single journey of 31 ¾ miles from Uxbridge to Cockfosters. The stations between South Harrow and North Ealing were very basic structures and were in need of replacement. The designs for the majority of the new stations on the western extension of the Piccadilly Line were entrusted to Charles Holden (1875-1960), through his practice Adams, Holden & Pearson, although for some stations the London Underground Architects' office under Stanley Heaps (1880-1962) was involved in preparing the working drawings and the design of platforms, tunnels and escalator shafts. Overall control of the extension rested with Frank Pick (1878-1941), the visionary administrator of the Underground Group and Chief Executive of the London Transport Passenger Board from 1933 who, along with Holden, was responsible for the Modernist direction the new Piccadilly Line stations took during the 1930s.
The original design for the new station at Sudbury Town to replace the original timber-framed, corrugated iron station of 1903 was produced by Stanley Heaps and based on the Hounslow West polygonal tower but in brick rather than stone. This was followed by an initial design by Charles Holden of a narrow three-storey box-like building with a single arched central window and entrance, in the style of contemporary Dutch station designs, which was rejected. The final Holden design incorporated a tall rectangular brick booking hall with flat concrete roof, large windows and lower side wings. This design came to be known as the 'Sudbury box' and variations of it were used on Holden's other designs for the Piccadilly Line, most closely at Turnpike Lane, Bounds Green and Oakwood. The station marked a new Modernist departure for the stations of the London Underground, influenced by Continental architecture such as the brick buildings of Willem Marinus Dudok (1884-1974) in Holland and other new buildings, particularly in Germany, Sweden and Denmark. Sudbury Town was constructed in seven months between December 1930 and July 1931 and incorporated a bus forecourt. It was recognised in the architectural press of the time for its emphasis on form rather than applied decoration, use of pre-fabricated metal window units and concrete cast in situ (although this construction method was not repeated as the shuttering leaked staining the brickwork). The station was listed at Grade II in 1971. Work under the Underground Ticketing System (UTS) in 1986-7 resulted in changes to the interior of the booking hall with the creation of a new ticket suite, partly in the original cycle store.
Charles Holden was born in Bolton, son of a textile engineer and trained with CR Ashbee before joining the practice of H. Percy Adams, a specialist in hospital design, with whom he entered into partnership in 1907. Before and during the First World War, Holden was not committed to any particular style, designing, for example, the Arts and Crafts-inspired Belgrave Hospital for Children in 1899-1901 and the mannerist British Medical Association (now Zimbabwe House) in 1906-8. After the war, he designed sixty-seven cemeteries for the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission; these show the growing simplification of his work. By this time his practice was known as Adams, Holden, and Pearson, and in 1924 they began to be appointed as consultant architects on the London Underground. In the mid-1920s Holden designed façades for stations on the Northern Line extension from Clapham South to Morden and in the 1930s designed most of the new stations at either end of the Piccadilly Line, finally ending their association in the late 1940s on the completion of stations on the eastern extension of the Central Line. Pick and Holden had both been deeply influenced by a short tour of examples of new architecture on the Continent which they had undertaken in the summer of 1930, and Holden's subsequent designs emphasised functionality (with the booking hall as the dominant element of the new buildings) combined with balanced geometry and the use of modern materials, especially glass and reinforced concrete. After the Second World War, Holden devised schemes for the reconstruction of Canterbury and London. None was carried through faithfully, but Holden had, through 55 Broadway, Senate House, and the tube stations, already left a more enduring mark on London than any architect of his generation.
MATERIALS: Handmade Buckinghamshire brick; concrete slab roofs, canopies and footbridge. Metal-framed Crittall glazing.
PLAN: Tall rectangular booking hall on the north side of the tracks, flanked by single-storey flat-roofed wings which extend behind the booking hall and provide the cantilevered platform canopy. A concrete covered footbridge, with long walled concrete access ramps on either side, joins the platform on the south side of the tracks which has low, concrete-roofed platform buildings, again with cantilevered platform canopy.
EXTERIOR: The booking hall is of load bearing multi-coloured Buckinghamshire brick laid in English bond on a plain concrete plinth. The concrete roof overhangs with moulded shallow steps to the soffit and a wide frieze which originally had a neon name sign on both principal elevations (the only neon signs ever used on a London Underground station, they were removed by 1958; it now has bronze lettering, on the street elevation only, with a large reproduction illuminated roundel below). Fenestration is limited to the long elevations with four full height metal windows each divided into eight near square lights each light further split by thin glazing bars into three panes. Each window terminates on a concrete lintel with an entrance below, grouped in two pairs. The rear elevation has five equally spaced windows separated by narrow brick piers and coming down to the level of the canopy. The lower wings are of concrete faced with white cement with brick dados and overhanging flat roofs. These incorporate a round-ended waiting room onto the platform to the north-west (and originally a refreshment room which extended to the front of the station), and to the south-east form a linking corridor to the footbridge (here faced in brick). The footbridge is slightly arched and has a concrete roof with narrow horizontal windows on either side (originally unglazed these now have uPVC window frames). A single-storey, brick faced and concrete-roofed toilet block extends south-east of the footbridge and opens onto the platform. On the far side of the bridge are a range of single-storey platform buildings, again with a cantilevered concrete canopy.
INTERIOR: The booking hall is finished in plain brick on a concrete plinth and with a canted concrete ring beam at the level of the entrance lintels. The trabeated ceiling with its deep frieze is painted in mustard with pale blue panels. In the south-east wall an entrance leads to steps up to the link with the footbridge. These retain their bronze hand rails. On the blind end walls the original blue station clock and barometer survive. Against the north-west wall of the booking hall, with a concrete roof extending from the ring beam, is the original newspaper kiosk with a curved glazed end whilst beyond it are the double doors to the refreshment room, now closed off. The four main entrances are door-less, as originally, with metal sliding grilles. The flooring is replacement St James's tiling and the 1930s flared art-deco uplighters have gone. Towards the platform the booking hall gives way to the single height waiting area lit by skylights in the concrete ceiling and extensive glazing with some of the original eight-light Crittall windows surviving. Enamel London Underground roundels occupy two windows, a unique feature of this station. A new ticket suite has been unobtrusively introduced in the south-east corner of the waiting area. The wood panelled passimeter (reused from the original station to a design that was introduced during the First World War) survives, complete with its ticket issuing machine, joined by a reproduction timber ticket barrier. The waiting room has reproduction timber seating.
PLATFORMS: The platforms have modern seating and reproduction Holden designed globe 'roundel' lampposts that are not of special interest. Parts of the Holden-designed concrete boundary fence survive. The buildings on the south side of the tracks, where there is an entrance from Orchard gate, contain waiting rooms and a ticket office with Crittall glazing and window-mounted enamel roundels. Some large wooden poster panels occupy the ends of the platform but it is unclear if these are original.
SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: a number of original concrete lamp posts (although with reproduction metal fittings) remain in the station forecourt and outside the entrance on Orchard Gate. At the end of the north-west boundary wall to the station forecourt is the original small flat-roofed brick newspaper kiosk.