Euston Arch finds its way ‘back home’ after 50 years languishing in River Lea
- Credit: Euston Arch Trust
Relics of the famous 70ft Euston Arch uncovered in London’s East End during construction of the 2012 Olympics have gone on show to the public this week for the first time in 50 years.
An open-air exhibition of recovered parts of the Arch runs until Friday at Euston Square Gardens, close to where it once stood at the entrance to Euston station.
Historian Dan Cruickshank eventually tracked down the lost segments of the classic stone arch at the bottom of the Prescott Channel, which feeds into the Lea River at Bow Bridge, when the Olympic Park was under construction in 2009.
“Its destruction was an act of barbarism,” he said at the time. “This was the first great building of the Railway Age and was the largest Grecian Doric gateway ever made anywhere in the world, erected in 1838 at the first railway terminus in London.
“It stood proudly at the entrance until its senseless demolition in 1961.”
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British Waterways came across the stones during work on a new lock for 350-tonne freight barges that were to transport materials and waste during the Olympic Park construction, the East London Advertiser reported in May, 2009.
They had been ‘lost’ for nearly half-a-century, after being pulled down and dumped in the Lea in 1961 when Euston station was being redeveloped.
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The stone sections were carefully raised from the riverbed as the Euston Arch Trust began its restoration campaign.
“This means a great cultural wrong committed in the 1960s can yet be put right,” Cruickshank added.
The stones are believed to have found their way into the Lea to help fill a hole that had been scoured in the riverbed, when the British Transport Commission oversaw the demolition of the arch.
But not all of the stones ended up in the Lea. Where the rest are have continued to be a mystery that the Euston Arch Trust had been trying to solve.