Will Edgware’s grade two listed Railway Hotel ever come back to life?
If there is one building that comes to mind when thinking of Edgware, chances are most people will pick The Railway Hotel, on Station Road. This Grade Two listed masterpiece has stood just across the road from St Margaret’s Church since 1931. It was designed by A.E. Sewell for the London brewers, Truman Hanbury Buxton in a style known as ‘Tudorbethan’ and replaced the first Railway Hotel built in the 1860s.
Sadly, like so many of London’s pubs, the Railway Hotel has not served a customer in a long time, in fact, it has been closed for over ten years now, and its fate has been in the balance ever since. It is a sad situation for a building that served Edgware and its population for nearly eighty years, not only as a place to drink and eat but as a venue for wedding receptions and parties of all kinds.
It may confuse some that this fine building should reference a railway when it is quite some way from the Underground station further down the road. However, there was another railway station that once stood in the area now covered by Sainsbury’s car park. A branch of the Great Northern Railway line ran from the terminus, opening in 1867. By 1939 the line was closed to passenger traffic but, carried on as a freight line until 1964.
What is most notable about the building is its wonderful evocation of the kind of inns that would have lined the Edgware Road in the section called Edgware High Street. A great many of these succumbed in the early part of the 20th century, with only the 17th century White Hart (also listed and in a perilous state), surviving.
The decoration of the building is truly splendid, with large elaborate brick chimneys, wooden carved figures under eaves and fun details including a sundial. The detailing wasn’t just restricted to the exterior of the building, the interior was fitted out with wood panelling and more carvings, all illuminated by large leaded windows.
In 2003 Historic England gave the Railway Hotel a grading, noting that “it is among the best examples of a picturesque roadhouse in the country”. Despite this, the building closed around 2008 and has seen a number of different owners, none of whom have reopened it. Unsurprisingly, the building has been damaged by at least two fires and by vandalism. The Railway Hotel was recently put up to let by the owner, so there is a possibility that it may come back to life. One can only hope.
Mark Amies is an author and enthusiast of local history. His book, ‘London’s Industrial Past’, is available to buy in Waterstones and other bookshops.