Building Connections - A New Waterloo Bridge

Michael Johnson, Director at Nagan Johnson Architects, has lived and worked in Waterloo for over 22 years, so it's unsurprising to learn of his keen and close involvement in the Waterloo area with various projects, events and developments.

As the Chair of We are Waterloo (the local Business Improvement District - BID), he and the local team recognised the need to develop access to the historic* and busy Waterloo Station which serves as the heart of the local area - in particular access from the bustling Lower Marsh, which itself has flourished over recent years due to local regeneration efforts.
He and the team assembled a team of other consultants and local stakeholders to plan and deliver the 'Waterloo Walkway' project, as the current route from the Main Concourse of Waterloo Station heading south is uninviting, arduous and perceived to be dangerous to some pedestrians. The choice is between taking the escalator to the often congested Waterloo Road station entrance or using Exit 1 which takes the traveller along Cab Road, through the railway wall and onto Spur Road via a ramp or steps.
The primary objective of building a new walkway is to improve pedestrian access
and communications. This will in turn support the link between Waterloo Station
and the surrounding businesses, hotels, the Guys’ and St. Thomas’ Charity/Stanhope’s
Royal Street development proposal, the overall community and the residents of Waterloo.
It will also offer the opportunity for a new greenway with views opening up across the Waterloo BID area.
WeAreWaterloo have secured funding from the GLA to produce a Feasibility Report to investigate forging a new pedestrian link between Exit 1 (concourse level) of Waterloo Station and Lower Marsh.
Working with Network Rail and other stakeholders when considering the Walkway options within the context of the wider Waterloo Station Masterplanning exercise, a new plan, which is more external facing, is now being led by a group of local stakeholders.
This new plan intends to consider exactly how the station will best be able to integrate within the rapidly changing surrounding environment as led by the local development agenda. The Waterloo Walkway aligns with Network Rail’s aspirations and the theme of “putting passengers first”.

The possibility of a new walkway across the rooftops from outside Exit 1 to Lower Marsh could not come at a better time. A new route would offer a calmer, more attractive journey, resulting in an experience that is far more joyful than it is a chore. It would reveal a new public realm with the potential of a traffic-free, green space that showcases views across to Millennium Green and Lower Marsh.

WeAreWaterloo, the local Business Improvement District, are championing a scheme to forge this new route and have put together a local team of professionals to deliver the Feasibility Report which, together with the consultations with Network Rail, Transport for London and others, is the first step towards achieving the walkway.
Design Stage Project Manager: WAW/ Michael Johnson/ Nagan Johnson
Landscape Designer: Deborah Nagan. 

Deborah’s’ work places sustainability at the forefront; opportunities to add to site biodiversity are explored at the outset and a low-embodied carbon approach is taken in all material selection. Whilst ensuring a high quality of finished work , Deborah’s landscape work emphasises the need to express the narrative of the place, a vital component in the creation of meaningful places that people will continue to use for many years.

*History of Waterloo Station

The London & South Western Railway (L&SWR) reached Waterloo in 1848 and was then followed by a number of abortive plans to extend services further eastwards. In November 1891, a Bill was deposited before Parliament for the construction of an underground electric railway that would use tube-sized trains, running from Waterloo to Mansion House. This was supported by the L&SWR but remained independent.
The line was opened with due ceremony in August 1898, being only the second electric tube railway in London after the City & South London Railway (C&SLR). This new W&CL line was physically unconnected to the rest of the railway system with access to the line only being made possible with the hydraulically powered Armstrong Lift (named after the makers and installed in 1898), which was located on the ‘Windsor’ side of Waterloo mainline station. Here, each lift platform was long enough to accommodate one coach. Another smaller lift was also built at Waterloo Station to hoist the coal wagons which fed the boilers and to provide power for the line, while also removing ash.


As a memorial to their staff who died in the First World War, the LSWR

commissioned the Victory Arch at Waterloo Station; designed

by J R Scott, their chief architect and made of Portland stone

and bronze it depicts War and Peace, with Britannia holding the torch of liberty

above. Image: Network Rail


The L&SWR became part of the newly formed Southern Railway (SR) in 1923 and

in the mid-1980s became part of the newly formed Network Southeast (NSE)

sector. This stock was finally replaced in May 1993 by a fleet of cars that were

built on a modified design from an order of the new London Underground.


The Armstrong Lift (for which the new stock was too long) had to be removed to

make way for the new Eurostar terminal which would be routing Channel Tunnel

trains. For this, a new shaft was dug on the south side of Waterloo station and the

old stock was then removed by road crane.


To this day, this same method is used to remove rolling stock and for heavy



Network Rail’s operation of the line was short-lived, and beginning in April 1994,

the whole line – rolling stock and staff – was transferred to London Underground

Ltd for a nominal sum of £1.