The original Charing Cross station building was constructed by the South Eastern Railway (later the South East and Chatham) on the site of the old Hungerford Market in order to extend its passenger service from London Bridge Station into the West End. The station opened on 11 January 1864. "Charing" is thought by some to be a corruption of "Chere Reine", or "Beloved Queen" because the station was built at the site of an "Eleanor Cross". When Queen Eleanor, wife of Edward I, died in 1290, her body was taken to Westminster Abbey, and Edward had a cross built at every place where the procession stopped on its way to London. A year after the station began services, on 15 May 1865, the Charing Cross Hotel opened, providing the station with an ornate, Renaissance style frontage. At the same time, a replica of the Eleanor Cross was erected in the station forecourt. The Hotel was later extended in 1878 and again in 1952 when two further top floors were added.


On 5 December 1905, the original station roof structure collapsed with the loss of six lives (two workmen who were painting the roof, a bookstall worker and three passers-by). Luckily the collapse happened outside the rush hour and was slow enough for the station to be evacuated without further loss of life.

On 10th May 1927 staff at the station noticed an unpleasant smell in the left luggage department and subsequently found the dismembered body of a woman. Follow this link for more about the murder.

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