This photograph successfully portrays the intense activity and grim atmosphere of the GER suburban traffic flowing in the peak period at the top of Bethnal Green Bank. Six running lines pass through the station down into Liverpool Street and the photographer has managed to capture five trains.
The Wood Street train on the extreme right is approaching Bethnal Green Station on the suburban line while adjacent to it another 16-coach train of four-wheelers disappears into the gloom towards Bishopsgate tunnel. In the distance a rebuilt "Humpty Dumpty" 2-4-0 labours up the bank with a down express.
The fine carriage roofscape in the centre of the photograph is of a train of main line six-wheel stock on the up local line; the nearest carriage is a diagram 404 34' 6" six-compartment 3rd, the next diagram 219 32' composite luggage while the carriage with three gas lamp tops is a 32' diagram 513 passenger brake van.
Neck to neck with the local is another suburban train on the up through line composed of the six-a-side stock with round-topped doors. In the left background is the small engine shed which accommodated tank engines employed in and around Bishopsgate and Spitalfields, the two pairs of signals protect movement onto the Whitechapel coal depot viaduct and the storage sidings parallel to the main line. Spitalfields signal box is also visible; other interesting features on the approaches to Bishopsgate are completely lost in the smoke, steam and general murk pervading the locality.
Photograph: GERS Collection
Caption by John Watling