The newly upgraded Denmark Hill Station was officially opened this week by rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris.
Described as the ‘first carbon positive’ upgrade to the rail network, the station has benefitted from £7.5 million of investment.
Along with a new station entrance improving access to both the Maudsley and King’s through a second entrance via Windsor Walk, the station has gained new public artwork showcasing Camberwell’s history and culture, more waiting facilities, sheltered platforms, cutting edge solar power, and secure cycle parking.
It is the first train station in Europe to be fitted with BIPVco’s Flextron thin film solar technology.
Just 3mm thick and 3kg per m2, the flexible solar panels are highly advanced, self-cleaning, and generate a high energy yield even shadow and shade
A key aim of the improvements is to improve passenger flow and reduce congestion at the station; one of the UK’s busiest, and improve service reliability.
At the ribbon cutting, Heaton-Harris said: “This upgrade transforms a Victorian station into a modern experience for passengers – cutting crowding, improving access, and introducing new space for cyclists and artwork.
“Making this new extension to Denmark Hill the first ‘carbon positive’ upgrade by utilising innovative solar technology also demonstrates our ambition to ensure our rail network is greener for passengers and better for our environment.”
Network Rail’s southern region managing director, John Halsall, added: “The work we’ve done at Denmark Hill was ground-breaking in terms of upgrades to existing Victorian infrastructure in many ways, fusing the modern with the old, and above all making it accessible and user-friendly for passengers.
“The new upgrade is highly sustainable, using solar energy solutions that actually produce more power than the station upgrade needs to run, so we can put power back to the grid.
“We’ve managed to complete this project on time and on budget despite the impact of COVID, and that’s testament to our relationship with Govia Thameslink Railway, the Camberwell Society, and the Salvation Army for lending us part of their site for the works.”
Heaton-Harris was joined by local resident, writer, broadcaster and campaigner Sandi Toksvig, representatives from Network Rail, GTR, the Camberwell Society, Camberwell Identity Group, King’s College and Maudsley NHS hospitals and actress Danielle Arthur-Kennedy.
New public art at the station includes a piece by British Ghanaian artist Godfried Donkor, a poem by Una Marson – the first black woman programme maker at the BBC and former Camberwell resident – and design elements that give a nod to Camberwell’s history.
One design motif is the ‘Camberwell Brick’, in the palette of colours drawn from local greenery, architecture, water and the sky to form a townscape of Camberwell.
Designed by local design consultancy Studio Sutherland, the brick was inspired by the well which features in Camberwell’s name, history and coat of arms.
Network Rail has also used the brick shape for the white tiling to complete the entrance.
Actor, Daniella Arthur-Kennedy from Theatre Peckham, who read Marsden’s poem at the opening of the new entrance, said: “Una Marson was a Jamaican feminist, activist and writer, who inspired so many through her writing and character.
“She was the first black woman programme maker to be employed by the BBC and showed true commitment despite facing inequalities and injustice.
“Her desire to help children and West Indian soldiers who came back from WWII shows how selfless and empowering she was.
“Una’s work not only inspired the people of her time, but also the people of today. She is truly an inspiration to me and many others.”
Nick Mair, chair of the Camberwell Society, said: “We’re delighted with the collaborative experience of this project. Working with Network Rail, the project team and the Camberwell community we have created a unique welcome at Denmark Hill station reflecting Camberwell’s history and culture.”
Camberwell Identity Group chair Kelly Blaney told the News: “We have been working closely with Network Rail since March 2018 and, through on-going community consultations, the new art and design elements have created a unique identity for our station and continue to enrich our history as a cultural hotspot.”
Local resident Sandi Toksvig, who was at the unveiling, said: “Camberwell is a culturally diverse neighbourhood with rich history, and the new entrance to Denmark Hill station gives a flavour of what makes it a great place to live and work.
“I hope people who use the station feel inspired to explore the area further and experience Camberwell life.”