This time we are taking a good look at the Victoria line, the second newest on the system.
This line has very little history, having opened in three tranches between 1968 and 1971 and been unchanged since the Victoria-Brixton section opened in 1971. Such history as there is can be gleaned from these maps and other pictures…
Before going into detail about my speculations anent this line, this is a geographical map showing London Transport of approximately 20 years ago (I bought it from the London Transport Museum). It is somewhat damp stained, but still perfectly readable…
Next, this picture is of the same map but focusses on the Victoria line specifically…
When I we were first living in Streatham (before Pratt’s had closed, so somewhere around 30 years ago now), there was a campaign to bring London Underground to Streatham by means of extending the Victoria line south from Brixton. Nothing came of this idea, as the Victoria was already packed to bursting, especially at peak times, and it was felt that an extension was therefore not feasible. Thus, the nearest stations on London Underground to Streatham remain Balham and Tooting Bec (these are both significantly closer than Brixton – I have walked it from all three over the years so I know whereof I write). Living where we did, we had a choice of many stations depending on mood and reason for travelling that were within walking distance but not particularly close – Tooting Bec on the Northern line, Streatham, Streatham Common and Tooting on mainline railways. On occasions I would choose to make the longer walk to Balham so as to wait less long for a mainline train to Clapham Junction (trains coming in from Streatham Hill, Mitcham Junction and Streatham Common all converged at Balham for the northward run to Clapham Junction and Victoria) – this was particularly the case when I was working in New Malden in the late 1990s.
I have two suggestions for easing congestion on the Victoria line as it exists currently, to enable my envisaged extensions. Firstly, the Woking-Chelsmfors link that I described in detail in this post on the Central line, originally published on aspiblog, and now available here would ease congestion on the central part of the Victoria by offering an alternative route from Victoria to King’s Cross. My second more radical suggestion is a doubling of the tracks between Brixton and Walthamstow, which would mean some loss of cross-platform interchanges for some services, but would certainly reduce congestion.
Those who read the Central line post will know that one of my planned extensions of the Victoria line involves using the northern half of the Hainault loop (the Woking-Chelmsford plan uses the southern half). I have two pictures to enable you to envisage the extension from Walthamstow to Woodford, and just before showing them will say that beyond Hainault, the Victoria would share the route to Chelmsford with the Woking-Chelmsford…
My plans for extending beyond Brixton involve two possibilities between which I cannot decide – either an extension through Streatham, at last connecting that area to London Underground to a terminus at East Croydon, and possibly then taking over the Caterham branch from mainline railways or a south-easterly extension to Sevenoaks, turning the line into a horseshoe shape. My personal preference would be for an extension through Streatham, but I admit to a degree of bias here. I am influenced by memories of deciding when I temped at Lambeth Council’s HQ in Brixton that the public transport options for the journey from Streatham did not warrant the expenditure and settling for an hours walk each way instead.
We have looked at the past, and at my vision for the future, so now it is time to focus for the rest of this piece on…
Those familiar with these surveys will know what is coming – a journey along the line as it now stands, and we are going to start from…
When I think of Walthamstow I think of giving the EDL the welcome they deserved – a red hot one, which as detailed in this blog post was duplicated shortly afterwards in Norwich. I am proud to have been part of both events. Walthamstow offers an interchange to the London Overground route from Liverpool Street to Chingford (a place that has the discredit of choosing IDS as its MP).
I covered this station in detail in this post.
This offers a connection to mainline railways. It is also one of the small but growing number of stations to have step-free access from street to platform.
Another connection to London Overground, this time a route that runs from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt with a branch to Enfield Town. Two stops north of here on that route is White Hart Lane, home of Tottenham Hotspur football club.
This is a major interchange station, with a connection to the Piccadilly line and also to mainline railway services. If you happen to be travelling from King’s Lynn to Gatwick Airport late at night a change on to the Victoria line here rather than waiting until Kings Cross saves a little time – the extra stop being compensated for by the shorter interchange. Ignore any suggestion of using the direct connection from St Pancras to Gatwick – this is a slow stopping service, whereas the Gatwick Express from Victoria is non-stop and very fast, as it’s name suggests – what you lose by making two changes involving the Victoria line comes back with interest on the difference between the slow and fast routes to Gatwick. I have evidence to back these claims up – my aunt made the mistake of accepting well meant but incorrect advice at Kings Cross when she was recently catching a flight from Gatwick and for her return journey made the correct decision to use Gatwick express and accept an extra change, and found this journey much quicker.
HIGHBURY AND ISLINGTON
This station has an interchange to mainline railways, and also to two London Overground routes, the one that incorporates what used to be the East London Line and has southern termini at New Cross, West Croydon and Crystal Palace, and the original London Overground route, which used to run from Richmond to North Woolwich but now terminates at Stratford. There is also a mainline railway connection running to and from Moorgate, the section between Moorgate and Finsbury Park having been run as part of London Underground, both as a Metropolitan section and as a Northern line branch in its past.
KINGS CROSS ST PANCRAS
I have given this extensive treatment before, which I reproduce below:
Welcome to the next installment in my station by station guide to London. Following the success of my piece on Paddington I have gone for the other main line terminus among the original seven stations on the Metropolitan Railway…
King’s Cross and St Pancras are next door neighbours to one another, and therefore served by the same Underground Station. Although this was one of the 1863 originals, the platforms that now serve the Hammersmith and City, Circle and Metropolitan lines have been resited – the present ‘surafce’ level station dates only from 1941. The Piccadilly line station was part of the original section of that line which opened in 1906, while the City and South London Railway (now the Bank branch of the Northern line) got there in 1907. Finally, it was part of the second section of the Victoria line to come on stream in December 1968.
Although King’s Cross (of which more later) is by some way the larger of the two main line rail terminals here, St Pancras is an extraordinary building, resembling an outsized fairy castle. St Pancras is now an international terminus, running trains to the continent, and meaning that over a century after he just failed to make it happen the dream of Edward Watkin, who guided the Metropolitan in its great era of expansion, of being able to travel by rail from Paris to Manchester by way of London is now a reality. Here are some pictures of this magnificent station:
King’s Cross is a station of two parts – the main concourse and platforms 1-8 which run long haul trains to the north and scotland, and off to one side platforms 9-11 from which trains to much more local destinations such as Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn depart. It is here that you will find the sign to platform 93/4 from which the Hogwarts Express departs in the Harry Potter stories. Having mentioned one literary association, King’s Cross plays a passing role in more than one of Edward Marston’s stories involving Inspector Colbeck a.ka. The Railway Detective.
I have my usual style map images to help those of you not familiar with the area to orient yourselves:
Another station that I have given full post treatment to – for more click here.
This is one of several stations you might use if paying a visit to University College London (Euston Square and Euston are both also possibilites, and if you were coming in from a long way out and arriving at either Kings Cross or St Pancras it would make sense to walk from there rather than batter your Oyster Card to save a few minutes.) It is also a local station for the BT Tower (nee Post Office Tower) – Goodge Street on the Northern line is closer, but it is not worth making the change if you happen to be on the Victoria line anyway.
A cross-platform interchange with the Bakerloo (like that with the Piccadilly at Finsbury Park and a couple of others) and a longer interchange to the Central. As befits a station serving one of the best known shopping streets on the planet Oxford Circus is perennially busy.
Interchanges with the Jubilee and Piccadilly lines, both involving a lot of walking. The station takes its name from the smallest of London’s eight royal parks. It adjoins Buckingham Palace, London seat of that outdated institution the Monarchy.
A vast transport hub, including a bus station, Britain’s largest coach station and a mainline rail station. I have previously covered it in exhaustive detail, which I reproduce below…
Special Post: Victoria
Welcome to the latest installment in my series “London Station by Station“. I hope that you will enjoy this post and be encouraged to share it.
THE ULTIMATE IN TRANSPORT NODES
A SOUPCON OF HISTORY
Victoria Underground station first opened as part of the Metropolitan District Railway in 1868. The construction of this of the system was combined with the building of the Victoria Embankment, and was designed and overseen by Joseph William Bazelgette who was also responsible for the design of London’s sewer system. Peter Bazalgette, the TV producer who has a bridge programme from the 1980s to his credit and Big Brother to his debit is a great-great nephew of Joseph William.
The infighting between the Metropolitan District (now the District line) and it’s supposed senior partner the Metropolitan meant that the Inner Circle (now the Circle line), the other line to serve these platforms was not completed until 1884.
In spite of giving its name to the line in question, Victoria was not one of the original Victoria line stations, opening as part of the second of three tranches in 1969, before the final section from Victoria to Brixton opened in 1971.
A PHILATELIC DIGRESSION
One of the quirks of the Victoria line is that every station features a pattern o a picture of some sort used as a motif. The pattern used at Victoria, is based on one of the most famous items to feature a picture of Queen Victoria, the 2d blue postage stamp. I do not have a picture of the London Underground pattern based on it to hand, but this was lot 682 in James and Sons’ May auction…
THE TRANSPORT HUB
Victoria is the most used station on the entire London Underground network. In excess of 60 million passenger journeys per year start or finish at this station. Victoria is a major train station, serving a wide variety of destinations to the South and East of London, including running the Gatwick Express, which connects to London’s second busiest airport. There is at the moment a bitter rivalry between Gatwick and Heathrow over who will get a new runway. My own view? Neither – do not build the thing at all – instead encourage people away from aeroplanes.
In addition to the train services there is Victoria Coach Station, from which you can reach most parts of the country, although some of the journey times are very long.
THE PHOTOGRAPHIC FINALE
As usual for these posts I have some map pictures…
The only station on the Victoria line to have no interchanges at all. This station was opened late, in 1972, one year after the Victoria-Brixton section opened. It serves Tate Britain, one of the four art galleries that come under the heading Tate Gallery.
I covered this station as part of a post themed around the Oval Cricket Ground, which the mainline platforms here overlook, and once again I reproduce that below…
Special Post: Oval and Vauxhall
Welcome to the latest post in my series “London Station by Station”. I hope you will enjoy this post and that some of you will be encouraged to share it.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE GAS HOLDERS
I am treating these two stations together because they are at opposite ends of the Oval cricket ground. Oval was one of the original six stations of the City and South London Railway, the world’s first deep-level tube railway, which opened in 1890. Vauxhall only opened as an underground station in 1971, part of the newest section of the Victoria line, but is also a main-line railway station and would have opened in that capacity long before Oval.
Today is the Saturday of the Oval test, by tradition the last of the summer. At the moment things are not looking rosy for England, but more spectacular turnarounds have been achieved (bowled at for 15 in 1st dig and won by 155 runs a day and a half later – Hampshire v Warwickshire 1922, 523-4D in 1st dig and beaten by ten wickets two days later – Warwickshire v Lancashire 1982 to give but two examples). The Oval in it’s long and illustrious history has seen some of test cricket’s greatest moments:
1880: 1st test match on English soil – England won by five wickets, Billy Murdoch of Australia won a sovereign from ‘W G’ by topping his 152 in the first innings by a single run.
1882: the original ‘Ashes’ match – the term came from a joke obituary penned after this game by Reginald Shirley Brooks. Australia won by 7 runs, England needing a mere 85 to secure the victory were mown down by Fred Spofforth for 77.
1886: A triumph for England, with W G Grace running up 170, at the time the highest test score by an England batsman. Immediately before the fall of the first England wicket the scoreboard nicely indicated the difference in approach between Grace and his opening partner William Scotton (Notts): Batsman no 1: 134 Batsman no 2: 34
1902: Jessop’s Match – England needing 263 in the final innings were 48-5 and in the last-chance saloon with the tables being mopped when Jessop arrived at the crease. He scored 104 in 77 minutes, and so inspired the remainder of the English batsmen, that with those two cool Yorkshiremen, Hirst and Rhodes together at the death England sneaked home by one wicket.
1926: England’s first post World ward I Ashes win, secured by the batting of Sutcliffe (161) and Hobbs (100) and the bowling of young firebrand Larwood and old sage Rhodes – yes the very same Rhodes who was there at the death 24 years earlier.
1938: The biggest margin of victory in test history – England win by an innings and 579. Australia batted without opener Jack Fingleton and even more crucially no 3 Don Bradman in either innings (it was only confirmation that the latter would not be batting that induced England skipper Hammond to declare at 903-7)
1948: Donald Bradman’s farewell to test cricket – a single boundary would have guaranteed him a three figure batting average, but he failed to pick Eric Hollies’ googly, collecting a second-ball duck and finishing wit a final average of 99.94 – still almost 40 runs an innings better than the next best.
1953: England reclaim the Ashes they lost in 1934 with Denis Compton making the winning hit.
1968: A South-African born batsman scores a crucial 158, and then when it looks like England might be baulked by the weather secures a crucial breakthrough with the ball, exposing the Australian tail to the combination of Derek Underwood and a rain affected pitch. This as not sufficient to earn Basil D’Oliveira an immediate place on that winter’s tour of his native land, and the subsequent behaviour of the South African government when he is named as a replacement for Tom Cartwright (offically injured, unoffically unwilling to tour South Africa) sets off a chain of events that will leave South Africa in the sporting wilderness for almost quarter of a century.
1975: Australia 532-9D, England 191 – England in the mire … but a fighting effort all the way down the line in the second innings, Bob Woolmer leading the way with 149 sees England make 538 in the second innings and Australia have to settle for the draw (enough for them to win the series 1-0).
1985: England need only a draw to retain the Ashes, and a second-wicket stand of 351 between Graham Gooch (196) and David Gower (157) gives them a position of dominance they never relinquish, although a collapse, so typical of England in the 1980s and 90s sees that high-water mark of 371-1 turn into 464 all out. Australia’s final surrender is tame indeed, all out for 241 and 129 to lose by an innings and 94, with only Greg Ritchie’s 1st innings 64 worthy of any credit.
2005: For the second time in Oval history an innings of 158 by a South-African born batsman will be crucial to the outcome of the match, and unlike in 1968, the series. This innings would see Kevin Peter Pietersen, considered by many at the start of this match as there for a good time rather than a long time, finish the series as its leading run scorer.
2009: A brilliant combined bowling effort from Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann sees Australia all out for 160 after being 72-0 in their first innings, a debut century from Jonathan Trott knocks a few more nails into the coffin, and four more wickets for Swann in the second innings, backed by the other bowlers and by Andrew Flintoff’s last great moment in test cricket – the unassisted run out of Ricky Ponting (not accompanied by the verbal fireworks of Trent Bridge 2005 on this occasion!).
The above was all written without consulting books, but for those who wish to know more about test cricket at this iconic venue, there is a book dedicated to that subject by David Mortimer.
As usual I conclude this post with some map pics…
A cross-platform interchange with the northern line. When Tooting Bec was my local London Underground station many an underground journey featured a change at Stockwell because of the speed of travel on the Victoria line. For example, South Kensington was most quickly approached by changing at Stockwell and Victoria, rather than the one change methods involving Embankment or Leicester Square.
The end of the line. As mentioned earlier in this post this where you would find Lambeth Town Hall. Brixton is also home to Electric Avenue, so called because it was the first shopping street to be lit by electricity. Brixton is also home to The Brix. Finally, Brixton was where I spent the second part of election night 1997, before making the long walk home, setting out just before 4AM and getting home around 5AM.
I hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour of the Victoria line, and I end by displaying these final pictures…