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Unlocking the secret of the Euston Arch stones

18th May 2009

During works to construct a new lock and water control structure at Prescott Channel, near Bromley-by-Bow, British Waterways has uncovered a number of stones believed to be from the original Euston Arch, a magnificent 'Gateway' which once adorned Euston Station.

The stones will be lifted from their watery resting place on Monday 18 May and handed over to the Euston Arch Trust who campaign to rebuild the Euston Arch, a lost London masterpiece, which was destroyed when Euston station was redeveloped in the 1960s.

It’s believed that the stones found their way into the channel in the 60s when the British Transport Commission oversaw the demolition of the arch. The stone was used to help fill a hole that had been scoured in the bed of the Prescott Channel.

Florence Salberter, British Waterways’ heritage adviser, explains: “Despite the fact that the Euston Arch stones are not listed, they are a fascinating piece of London’s history, so we have been working closely with the Euston Arch Trust and English Heritage to ensure the stones were well looked after during construction of a new lock in the channel before being lifted from the water."

Not all of the arch was used to plug the hole and the final resting place of the remaining stones continues to be a mystery that members of the Trust have been working to solve for many years. The Trust aims to reconstruct the Arch utilising as much of the original stone as possible and return it to its original position as a landmark gateway to the capital for travellers arriving at Euston Station.

Several stones will be lifted out of the channel to clear the way for 350 tonne freight barges that will be using the lock to transport materials and waste in and out of the Olympic Park during the construction phases of the Games, and also in Legacy.

Dan Cruickshank, architectural historian and committee member of the Euston Arch Trust said: “The Euston Arch Trust has been campaigning for fifteen years to re-build the Euston Arch at Euston Station. The arch, completed in 1838, was the first great building of the railway age, the largest Grecian Doric gateway ever made and a building of great beauty and international architectural and historic importance. Its destruction was an act of barbarism but the careful raising of a number of its stones - a magnificent gesture on the part of British Waterways - moves the rebuilding campaign forward significantly and means that a great cultural wrong committed in the 1960s can yet be put right.”

Last updated: 20/05/2009