By: Charles Holden and Stanley Heaps
Standing on Greenford Road in Sudbury, west London, Sudbury Hill Station is a station serving the Piccadilly Line on London Underground. In the early 1930s public transport in London was operated by a multitude of separate companies. This saw large companies such as the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, which operated a number of underground lines including the Northern and Piccadilly lines, providing services alongside numerous smaller companies.
The Underground Electric Railways Company of London was managed by Frank Pick (1878-1941). Pick was an enlightened leader for the company, with an appreciation for good design. He commissioned designer Edward Johnston (1872-1944) to design a typography and Underground 'roundel' symbol for the company. Frank Pick also commissioned British architect Charles Holden to work on designs for the Underground Company. Charles Holden was born in Bolton on 12 May 1875. He entered architectural practice in 1892 and joined the practice of Henry Percy Adams (1865-1930) in 1899. In 1913 architect Lionel Godfrey Pearson (1879-1953) joined and the practice became the Adams, Holden and Pearson Partnership.
Initially Holden's commissions involved works to station facades supervised by Stanley Heaps (1880-1962), head of the Underground Group's Architects Office. Later Holden's commissions extended to complete stations; in 1925 Pick commissioned Charles Holden to design the seven stations of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London's Northern Line 1926 southern extension to Morden.
These new Northern Line stations adopted a modern style which marked the beginning of Holden's influence over London Underground design. But it was Holden's plans for Sudbury Town Station that set the mould for London Underground design up until the Second World War. The design of Sudbury Hill Station was an evolution of that at neighbouring Subury Town Station. Sudbury Hill Station was designed in 1931, part of the westwards extension to the Piccadilly Line from Hammersmith to South Harrow.
Sudbury Hill adopts Holden's 'brick box and concrete lid' form. At street level the red-brick design is set around a forecourt layout, open to the right and with a curved wall to the left. Atop the curved wall is a large, pole-mounted 'Underground' roundel. The station features a wide, open entrance from the street into the station, broken by two central brick piers. Either side of the entrance are two small kiosks. Above, the station name is carried on a concrete band, with a projecting concrete roof above the entrance. Behind the entrance stands a double height ticket hall with a wide, full-height three-bay clerestorey window allowing light into the hall. The window incorporates the 'Underground' roundel into the glazing bars. There are similar windows - without the roundel - to the sides and rear of the ticket hall. A flat, concrete roof projects from the ticket hall with a concrete band beneath the roof-line mirroring that at street level.
The platforms are set below the ticket hall; the ticket hall is alongside the southbound track with a bridge across to the northbound track. Both north and southbound platforms are accessed by stepped stairwells with clerestorey glazing leading down to enclosed waiting rooms. The platforms are bordered by concrete fences, broken with concrete panels combining station signage and advertising space.
Sudbury Town Station is surprisingly unaltered, given the necessary changes in public transport, such as the need to provide travel information, and as a consequence of health and safety legislation. Charles Holden died in 1960, but his designs for London Underground stations are used by thousands of passengers each day. Sudbury Hill Station and the neighbouring Sudbury Town Station are exceptional examples of his work.
The building was awarded Grade II-listed status on 17 May 1994.