Arnos Grove Underground Station


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Enfield (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Underground railway station, 1932 by Charles Holden. Minor later alterations.

Reasons for Designation

Arnos Grove Underground station is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * architectural interest: a striking design with a prominent circular booking hall providing both an effective landmark and hugely impressive interior space. Its large panels of glazing making it particularly evocative when lit at night; * historic interest: probably the most highly regarded example of 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 remain influential today; * intactness: the station is largely unaltered and retains notable features such as the passimeter and telephone kiosks in the booking hall and platform structures.


Arnos Grove station was built as part of the first section of the northward extension of the Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters. This seven-mile extension beyond the original terminus of Finsbury Park, to serve the enlarging suburban areas in north Middlesex, was authorised by a parliamentary Act of 4 June 1930, and was overseen by Frank Pick (1878-1941), the visionary administrator of the Underground Group and Chief Executive of the London Transport Passenger Board from 1933. The first section of the extension, from Finsbury Park to Arnos Grove, which included the stations at Manor House, Turnpike Lane, Wood Green and Bounds Green, was opened on 19 September 1932. Southgate and Enfield West (now Oakwood) followed in March 1933, and the terminus at Cockfosters opened on 31 July 1933.

Work on Arnos Grove started in 1931. Like most of the stations on both the east and west extensions of the Piccadilly Line, it was designed by Charles Henry Holden (1875-1960). However, much of the practical detail for Arnos Grove was undertaken within the practice of Adams, Holden, and Pearson by Holden's chief assistant at the time, Charles Hutton (1907-95). The first of Holden's stations with a circular ticket hall, its design of a cylinder within a square was, according to Hutton, based on a groundsman's lodge at Midhurst Sanatorium designed by Adams, Holden, and Pearson in 1904-6. Others have identified the Stockholm City Library (1920-28 by Erik Gunnar Asplund), which Pick and Holden had visited in 1930, as an influence. Following problems at Sudbury Town, and subsequently at Arnos Grove, with leaking shuttering for the concrete roof discolouring the brickwork, the construction methods were changed part way through the project and the load-bearing brick walls were replaced with a reinforced-concrete frame with brick infill. This necessitated changes to the design, carried out by Hutton, with the entrances repositioned to fit the sixteen concrete stanchions grouped in pairs between the windows and changes to the proportions. The Piccadilly Line stations of Charles Holden are among the first and most widely celebrated examples of modern architecture in Britain. They are significant for bringing this new idiom to the general public, and for imposing a brand image to buildings and design when this was still novel. The stations are perhaps unique in the admiration they attracted from more experienced foreign architects and critics, for Britain was elsewhere backward in modern architecture and design. Arnos Grove represents perhaps the single most powerful architectural composition by Charles Holden in his work for London Underground and as a single clear statement of the architect's classic early 1930s style it is unsurpassed. The station was listed at Grade II in 1971 and renovated in the late 1980s to a high standard.

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 67 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 ticket 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: Reinforced concrete frame, clad in Buckinghamshire red and Staffordshire brindled blue brick; flat concrete slab roofs with dentiled soffits.

EXTERIOR: The station consists of a tall circular ticket hall set in a square single-storey base, containing shops and offices, positioned on the west side of a cutting. Entrances to the south and west serve the street and car park respectively, the front entrance divided into two by a brick pier. The brick work of the base is extended to the east to provide the parapet for a road bridge over the cutting. From the ticket hall a concrete gantry provides stairways down to the platforms. The ticket hall has a reinforced-concrete frame with the tall circular drum clad in red Buckinghamshire bricks laid in a mixture of bonds to give a diaper-work effect, with brindled blue Staffordshire brickwork used for the lower parts of the building and the bridge parapet. The flat oversailing concrete roofs have dentilled soffits and deep concrete cornices. In the drum, vertical bands of metal windows alternate with the brick infill, each of fifteen lights with thin horizontal glazing bars between a broader, near-square section, frame. Most of the original stippled glazing survives. The lower building has large areas of horizontal glazing above long artificial stone sills which continue as a dado, and are set under a concrete cornice inset with a reinstated blue tiled band that bears the station name in Johnson Sans typeface. Fixed to the brickwork are poster boards with timber frames. On the projecting roof towards the street is a freestanding, flag-pole mounted London Underground roundel sign with reproduction 1930s graphics bearing the name 'UNDERGROUND' between hashed lines. There are further bronze mounted replacement roundels on concrete panels on the brick walls at each end of the bus slip road and four original concrete lamp posts in front of the car park with modern light fittings. A dwarf wall of Staffordshire brick with an artificial stone coping encloses planters on the south and west of the station and another fronts the car park.

INTERIOR: Inside the ticket hall, the concrete frame is expressed by a large concrete ring-beam where the Staffordshire brick-clad lower ranges meet the upper Buckingham brick-clad drum, and by the sixteen vertical ribs forming pilasters above the ring beam. The exposed concrete roof is supported on a single giant, board-marked, column descending from a slightly convex ceiling boss. The column is surrounded by the original passimeter or ticket office, also circular, glazed above sill height (where the original linoleum finish was replaced in another material in the refit) with steel windows that angle to form part of the passimeter roof structure; a desk with fitted drawers and cupboards line the interior. At the western entrance (to the car park), there are five wooden telephone kiosks and a telephone directory niche, sensitively restored in 2000. The offices and two shops have similar timber windows and glazed timber doors complete with original door handles and reproduction Johnson Sans lettering in the fascia above. A modern ticket office with bronze detailing has been set into the curve of the drum on the north side. Bronze poster frames on timber panels line the walls, whilst the newspaper kiosk at the southern (street) entrance has a timber counter and rear shelving. The St James's floor tiles are modern replacements. From the east of the ticket hall steps lead down to a concrete bridge over the tracks lit by metal-framed windows with horizontal glazing bars. Clerestorey windows make the steps particularly light and they retain the original bronze handrails, small bronze wall-mounted light fittings and timber poster panels. From the bridge two sets of steps on either side lead to platform level.

PLATFORM: The platform shelters comprise concrete canopies supported on lintels set between pairs of near-square columns, slightly arched at their tops, and with central rooflights. Behind each set of stairs are set benches, shielded by glazed screens. Other fixed seats on the platform are timber; the five with seats facing both directions and roundels are original, whilst those without roundels are later additions. There are also free-standing concrete tripartite poster-boards with tile surrounds to the bronze poster frames and central roundel (replacement). Further bronze-framed roundels are affixed ton the wall on the far side of the track and sides of the staircases. Other early or original features of the platform furniture include 'Way Out' signs, platform number signs, bronze staff letter boxes and an analogue clock suspended from a cross-beam on the eastbound platform. An enclosed, steel-clad, staff footbridge was later added at the south end of the platforms. This is not of special interest.

MAP NOTE: The road bridge on Bowes Road, with the exception of the northern parapet wall, is not included in the listing (The map depiction illustrates the station platforms beneath the road bridge which are included).


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Croome, D, The Piccadilly Line: An Illustrated History, (1998)
Karol, E, Charles Holden, (2007)
Lawrence, D, Bright Underground Spaces - The Railway Stations of Charles Holden, (2008)
Lawrence, D, Underground Architecture, (1994)
Leboff, D, London Underground Stations, (1994)
Menear, L, London Underground Stations: a social and architectural study, (1983)
'The Architect and Building News' in Modern Railway Architecture: The New Stations on the Southgate Extension of the London Underground Railway, (23 September 1932)
Barson, S, 'The Architecture of British Transport in the Twentieth Century' in A Little Grit and Ginger: The Impact of Charles Holden on the Architecture of the London Underground, 1923-40, (2004)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 22 Apr 2001
Reference: IOE01/02493/25
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Mark Berry. Source Historic England Archive
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