When I created my post about the Piccadilly Line one of my envisaged extensions was north from Cockfosters to Welwyn Garden City. Apart from the value of establishing an extra connection in that part of the world, there was also an extra reason for this, which I cover in more detail in my post on the Central line.
USING ANOTHER OF MY INTERESTS
I recently acquired a Butterfly themed first day cover, which on closer inspection showed a connection with Welwyn Garden City as well. Here are the pictures:
DECOR IDEAS BASED ON THESE
Several ideas occurred to me about using these on the Piccailly line platforms that I envisage at Welwyn Garden City:
Tiling patterns on the platforms (a regular feature at London Underground stations these days). These would all look fine in a tiling display.
Stained glass windows such as those on display at Uxbridge at the other end of the line.
3. A small butterfly exhibition (you can see examples of this sort of thing dotted about the Tunnelbana, Stockholm’s equivalent of London Underground)
4. Possibly a special ‘Red Admiral’ roundel somewhere.
The title of this post comes from the title of Piers Connor’s history of the District Line, which is getting the aspiblog treatment this week…
As with that of it’s second youngest, the Victoria, almost precisely a century later, London’s second oldest underground line’s initial opening occurred in three phases between 1868 and 1871. After the third and final phase of opening the Metropolitan District Railway (as it was officially called at that time) looked like this:
A running theme of these early years were squabbles between the District and the Metropolitan over the completion of The Inner Circle (now the Circle line) and who could run their trains where. In the 1870s the District started producing maps for the benefit of their passengers, as these pictures show…
I do not know what these very early maps looked like, but here is a picture of my facsimile of a pre-Beck geographical map…
The Richmond and Wimbledon branches were both opened during the 1870s, followed by branches to Hounslow (the origin of the Heathrow branch of today’s Piccadilly line), Uxbridge (again handed over to the Piccadilly in the 1930s) and between 1883 and 1885, before being pared back to Ealing Broadway, Windsor (more on this later). The current eastern terminus of Upminster was reached (by a grant of running powers rather than new build) in 1902, and for a brief period as this reproduction postcard shows occasional District line trains ran to Southend and Shoeburyness…
Additionally, a branch to Kensington Olympia was created, which linked to a corresponding branch south from whatt is now the Hammersmith and City. Also, sometimes services ran from the district line north of Olympia to Willesden Junction. Additionally, there was a spur to South Acton and even briefly a terminus specifically to serve Hounslow Barracks.
In the 1930s a lot of the western services (Hounslow and Uxbridge specifically) were transferred to the Piccadilly line, while the Hounslow Barracks service ceased to exist, and the South Acton spur was abandoned.
Nevertheless, with main western termini at Wimbledon, Richmond and Ealing, and a cross branch serving Wimbledon, Edgware Road and Kensington Olympia the District remains a very complicated line.
Although I leave the eastern end of the line unchanged, my suggestions for the District involve some very dramatic changes. My plans for the Wimbledon, Edgware Road and Olympia branches will form the subject of a later post, and for the moment I will settle for saying that these branches would cease to form part of the District line, and that as with my changes involving branches that would remain part of the District line the plans involve making use of a feature that might otherwise be problematic (see The Great Anomaly), the fact that being one the older lines, this line was built to mainline specifications. Although my plans for the Richmond and Ealing branches are big, they involve only a small amount of new track – enough to link the lines that serve Windsor and Eton Riverside and Windsor and Eton Central forming a giant loop at the western end of the line. This loop would link with my suggested London Orbital Railway at Staines and at West Drayton. Thus in place of the current fiendishly complex District Line there would be ‘horizontal frying pan’ line, with Upminster to Turnham Green serving as the handle in this model. It would also make possible a reissue with appropriate modifications of this old poster…
A GUIDED TOUR OF THE PRESENT-DAY DISTRICT LINE
From Richmond to Gunnersbury the District and London Overground share a route, which features one of only two above-ground crossings of the Thames on the entire network (the other is Putney Bridge – East Putney on the Wimbledon branch of the District). Richmond features a deer park, as advertised on this old poster…
Kew Gardens actually has a pub that is built into the station, and serves a world famous botanic garden…
Gunnersbury is not very significant, although the flying junction that this branch forms with the rest of the District line just beyond here and just before Turnham Green is very impressive, to the extent that it too has featured in a PR campaign back in the day…
The section from Ealing Broadway to Acton Town includes a depot which features the steepest gradient on the system at 1 in 28 (passengers are not carried over this gradient – the steepest passenger carrying gradient is 1 in 32). At Ealing Common the District and Piccadilly lines converge, not to diverge again until the Piccadilly goes underground just east of Barons Court and even then, the Piccadilly follows the District at a deeper level until South Kensington. Between Acton Town and Turnham Green the District calls at Chiswick Park. After Turnham Green the District has stations at Stamford Brook and Ravenscourt Park. From the latter the remains of the viaduct that once carried trains from what is now the Hammersmith and City lines onto these tracks can still be seen. Beyond Hammersmith and Barons Court the District calls at West Kensington before arrving at the grand meeting point of Earls Court. Immediately east of Earls Court is Gloucester Road (pronounced glos-ta not glue-cess-ta – Americans please note), which at platform level has been restored to something like it would have looked in 1868, while the frontage at surface level is as nearly restored as the creation of a new shopping centre permits…
One stop further east at South Kensington is an original shopping arcade of the sort that several stations were provided with back in the day, complete with some splendid decorative ironwork (pictures photographed from London underground: The Official Handbook…)
One stop on from South Kensington is Sloane Square, which I remember from growing up in London is the station that served Peter Jones (a huge department store). Also, a large pipe above the platforms here is the only routinely visible sign of the river Westbourne (for more detail click here). From Sloane Square, the line visits Victoria (the ultimate transport hub). We are about enter a section of the journey featuring a lot of landmarks, so I will be giving each station I cover a section heading, starting with…
ST JAMES PARK
This station is the local station for London Underground’s official headquarters, located at 55 Broadway. It is also, along with Temple and Mansion House one only three stations on this section if the district to be served only by the district and circle lines.
The local station for the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey (officially the Collegiate Church of St Peter). The Abbey was originally founded by Edward the Confessor, who reigned from 1042-1066. While many look askance at the amounts of money trousered by folks in the House of Commons these people are at least elected, whereas in the House of Lords large sums of money go to people who are not elected, some of whom barely bother to attend and the vast majority of whom have demonstrated time and again that they are a waste of space. Even Baron Kinnock of Bedwelty, who has personally profited hugely from the existence of the House of Lords reckons that it is ripe for abolition. Since the opening of the warped (I will not dignify it with the word modified) Jubilee line extension in 1999 there has been an interchange here.
The station that has been through more name changes than any other on the system (people couldn’t decide whether Charing Cross, Embankment or both should be emphasised). The issue was put to bed for good in 1979 when the Jubilee opened, and its Charing Cross terminus created interchanges with what had previously been separate stations, Trafalgar Square on the Bakerloo line and Strand on the Northern, which meant that with Charing Cross definitively settled on for the marginally more northerly of the stations, this one had to be plain Embankment. The Embankment from which this station takes its name was designed as part of the building of this line by Joseph William Bazalgette, who also designed London’s sewer system. His great-great grandson Peter is a well known TV producer with some good series to his credit and Big Brother to his debit. This, photographed from the Piers Connor book is a diagram of the profile of the Embankment…
This is the only station name to feature both on London Underground and the Paris Metro (it also features on the Hong Kong network). In the days before the Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly line was axed there was an interchange here, as Temple is very close to Aldwych.
A station which derives its name from the Dominicans, who were referred to as black friars because of the colour of their habits. There is an interchange with both Thameslink and South Eastern here. Also, it is one end point of short scenic walk, which takes in a bridge over the Thames, Gabriel’s Wharf, The Oxo Tower, the Bernie Spain Gardens and the vast collection of attractions that between them constitute The South Bank, finally ending at Waterloo. Also if you go East instead of West after crossing the river you can take in the ruins of Winchester Palace (the former London residence of the Bishop of Winchester) and Clink Street, once home to a prison so notorious that ‘clink’ became slang for prison, a building that now houses London Dungeon, ending at London Bridge (you could continue yet further east – to Greenwich or even Woolwich were you feeling strong). I have done Waterloo – London Bridge and also Greenwich-London Bridge, and indeed Woolwich-Greenwich, so all these indvidual stretches are comfortably manageable. Also in this part of the world is Sainsbury’s main post-room where I once temped for a week (giving the agency feedback I took the opportunity to make it clear that I would not take any more work in that particular establishment – it was hell).
This name is either contradictory (a mansion is different from a house, being much larger) or tautologous (a mansion in a kind of large house) depending on your definitions. From 1871-1884 it was the eastern end of the District. The building after which the station is named is “the home and office of the Lord Mayor of the city of London” – an office filled four times by Richard Whittington (for once the story underplayed the the truth) in the fourteenth century.
A mainline rail terminus, albeit not a very significant one.
I mentioned this station in my post about the Central line because it is connected to the various lines that serve by Bank by means of escalators. This interchange was first created in 1933, but the current arrangement dates only from the opening of the Docklands Light Railway terminus at Bank.
At Aldgate East the Hammersmtih and City line joins the District and they run together as far as Barking. In between Aldgate East and Whitechapel there used be a line connecting to Shadwell (formerly East London Line, now London Overground). Whitechapel has been in the news recently because a museum that was given planning permission on the basis of being dedicated to the women of the East End turned out when it opened to be dedicated to Jack the Ripper. This has been the subject of a vigorous 38Degrees campaign seeking both to get the monstrosity closed and to establish a proper East End Womens Museum. Some of those involved in the campaign met with the mayor of Tower Hamlets recently, and he has apparently been sympathetic and has confirmed that he too is unhappy with the way the planning process was subverted by an act of calculated dishonesty. Beyond Whitechapel, the line has an interchange with the Central line at Mile End which is unique for an interchange between ‘tube’ and ‘subsurface’ lines in being cross-platform and underground, Bow Road, which has an interchange with the Docklands Light Railway station at Bow Church is the last station on the line to be in tunnel. East of Bow Road the line rises on a 1 in 45 gradient to emerge into the open some way before Bromley-by-Bow. West Ham is nowadays a major interchange, featuring mainline railways, the Jubilee line, the Docklands Light Railway (this section which runs from Stratford to Woolwich was once part of the line that became the nucleus of London Overground, which originally ran from Richmond to North Woolwich, but now terminates at Stratford) and of course the District and Hammersmith & City lines. The main line railway runs side by side with the District to Upminster, and then continues to Southend and Shoeburyness. Upton Park is until 2017, when the club in question move to the Olympic Stadium, the local station for West Ham United’s home ground. East Ham is now on the map as the location of a new trampoline park and laser maze. For more on this click on the picture below to read Time Out’s piece on the new attraction.
Barking in the eastern limit of the Hammersmith & City, also the terminus of London Overground branch from Gospel Oak and an interchange with mainline railways. Upminster is the easternmost destination currently served by London Underground.
EDGWARE ROAD, OLYMPIA AND WIMBLEDON
For this section I will be reverting to individual headings for station names…
A four platform station, where the Hammersmith & City line and the District and Circle lines meet (do not be fooled by the fact that both have stations called Paddington). This is the only one of the original 1863 stations to be served by District line trains.
PADDINGTON (PRAED STREET)
Why have I given this station a suffix that does not feature in it’s current title? Because the current plain “Paddington” designation is misleading – although the interchange to the Bakerloo line’s Paddington is a sensible one to have, you do far better for the mainline station and Hammersmith & City line to go on one stop to Edgware Road, make a quick cross-platform change to the Hammersmith & City and arrive at platforms that are structurally part of the mainline railway station (the two extra stops – one in each direction – plus a cross platform interchange taking less long between them than the official interchange up to the mainline station from here. Therefore to avoid misleading people the title of this station should either by given a suffix or changed completely, and the only interchange that should be shown is that with the Bakerloo. I have previously given Paddington a full post to itself, but failed to make the foregoing points with anything approaching sufficient force.
This station is on the north side of Hyde Park, and like the two on either side of it still has the same style of roof over the platforms as when it opened – a style now not seen anywhere else on the system.
This is the point at which this branch of the District diverges from the Circle line. The District branch continues south to the “Crewe of the Underground”, Earls Court, while the circle goes round to Gloucester Road (this section of track features in the Adventure of the Bruce Partington Plans, being the point at which the body of Arthur Cadogan West was fed through a rear window of a flat occupied by one Hugo Oberstein onto the roof of a conveniently stationary train, where it remained until being shaken off at Aldgate. Mycroft Holmes was sufficiently discombobulated by the case to change his routine (a thing so rare that his brother the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes likened it to seeing a tram car in a country lane) and pay a visit to Baker Street to seek assistance.
Trains to all manner of destinations pass through this station, but for the District it is a mere side branch..
An interchange with a London Overground branch. This station is fully open to the elements, as are all the others we have still to pass through.
The local station for Chelsea FC’s home ground, Stamford Bridge.
This would become a District line terminus, with an interchange to the new Hackney-Chelsea line, under official plans. In my personal ideas for the future it would be an interchange point but no terminus.
The local station for Fulham FC’s home ground, Craven Cottage. This would also be the best station to travel to if you wished to catch the Boat Race, second oldest of all the inter-university sporting contests.
The oldest of all the inter-university sporting contests is the Varsity Cricket Match, first played in 1827, two years before the first Boat Race took place.
This station is the first of a section that used to be mainline railway.
Another stop with a sporting connection – this is the local station for the world’s most famous tennis championship – Wimbledon. Although I have already given this station a full post, I show this picture again…
The second to last stop on our journey.
As we approach this station, we first join up with the mainline services from Waterloo coming in from Earlsfield, and then with Thameslink services coming in from Haydons Road. Wimbledon is also one terminus of the London Tram system. Along the north side of the tracks as one approaches Wimbledon runs Alexandra Road, and we pass underneath a bridge carrying Gap Road across the tracks to a junction.
ODDS AND ENDS
I have a few promotional pictures still to share, and some maps to round out this post. Other than that, I hope you enjoyed the ride…
Welcome to the latest addition to the series of posts themed around public transport in London. Although the main theme is the Central line, there is going to be much more in the speculative section than usual for reasons that will become obvious.
The first proposals for a Central London Railway were made in 1892, and the CLR opened, running from Shepherd’s Bush to Bank, in 1900.
Early proposals for extensions to this line included turning it into a loop, with a smaller loop through Liverpool Street to the east of the main line (think Ptolemy’s epicycles!).
After this was rejected, there were two plans involving connections to Richmond…
Neither of these went through either. In the 1930s two proposals, both involving existing lines operated by mainline railway companies did ultimately lead to serious extensions (before these two were incorporated into the line it still only ran from Liverpool Street to Ealing Broadway)…
When Central line trains started running to West Ruislip in 1957, the line had taken the shape it would have until 1994, with the closure of the Ongar end of the line. More about this and the history of the line can be found in J. Graeme Bruce and Desmond F. Croome’s book “The Twopenny Tube” (named in honour of the Central London Railway’s original flat fare back in 1900).
Another sine qua non for anyone interested in the Central line is Danny Dorling’s “The 32 Stops”, which takes us on a journey from West Ruislip to Woodford (the section of line within Greater London), and is comfortably the best of Penguin’s 150th anniversary series (albeit not by as big a margin as the Parreno travesty in connection with Hammersmtih & City line is the worst).
As mentioned in my introduction, this going to be detailed, because between the western and eastern ends of the Central line and my ideas for the Hainault loop I pretty much have to go in to detail regarding my vision of a London Orbital Railway. To set the scene, my plans for the southern portion of the Hainault loop are an extended version of the plans for a Hackney-Chelsea line shown on this adapted 1994 Journey Planner…
Rather than this proposal, which abbreviates but does not eliminate the Wimbledon branch of the district, my plan puts the central and Hainault loop portions of that line into a longer, better integrated whole that runs from Woking to Chelmsford. As for the northern part of the loop, that will have to wait for a later post except to say that trains running that side of the loop would follow the new line from Hainault to Chelsmford and that the rest of the plan also involves the Victoria line.
THE LONDON ORBITAL RAILWAY
This is not to be a completely new route, but to utilise existing track where possible, and link up all the major rail networks around London. In this vein, the points selected to be the extremities of the system are all major railway stations on exisiting networks. These are Maidstone East (Southeastern corner), Woking (Southwestern corner), Oxford (Northwestern corner, selected for historical reasons and Chelmsford (Northeastern corner). Oxford is on a spur which connects to the true orbital part of the network at Rickmansworth, having passed through Brill, Aylesbury, Amersham and Chalfont & Latimer en route (see my Metropolitan line post for more detail). Southwards from Rickmansworth it travels to Northwood, Ruislip Common, West Ruislip, Ickenham, South Ruislip, Hillingdon, Uxbridge, Uxbridge Moor, Cowley, Little Britain, Yiewsley, West Drayton, Harmondsworth, Heathrow Terminals 1,2 and 3, Heathrow Terminal 4, Stanwell, Ashford (Surrey), Staines, Laleham, Chertsey, Addlestone, West Byfleet (from where there is a spur to Woking). East from West Byfleet, the line would run Weybridge, Hersham, Esher, Hinchley Wood, Hook, Chessington South, Ewell West, Cheam, Sutton, West Croydon, East Croydon, Addiscombe, Shirley, Spring Park, West Wickham, Hayes, Keston, Locksbottom, Farnborough (Kent), Green Street Green, Chelsfield, Well Hill, Lullingstone Park, Eynsford, Maplescombe, with a spur to West Kingsdown and Maidstone. North from Maplescombe the line would then proceed to Farningham, Horton Kirby, Farningham Road, Sutton-at-Hone, Darenth, Fleet Downs, New Town, Dartford, Joyce Green, Purfleet, Aveley, Wennington, Upminster, Emerson Park, Ardley Green, Harold Wood, Harold Hill, Noak Hill, St Vincents Hamlet, Great Baddow and Chelmsford. Finally, west from Chelmsford it would head to Ongar, Broxbourne, Hertford East, Hertford North, Welwyn Garden City, St Albans, Watford Junction and completing the circle at Rickmansworth (see my previous posts, “Watford and Watford Junction” and “The Great Anomaly” for more details on this connection). Ideally every London Underground line (except the Circle for the obvious reason and the Waterloo & City) would have a connection to somewhere on this orbital route as well.
THE WOKING TO CHELMSFORD LINE
The Hackney-Chelsea line as shown in the adapted 1994 journey planner takes over the southern half of the District line’s Wimbledon branch. If it took over the entire branch, with an interchange to the District at Earls Court I could see the logic, but I see little point in taking over half a branch. Thus, my proposal for a more logical and better integrated Hackney-Chelsea line runs as follows: Woking, West Byfleet, Walton-on-Thames, Hersham, Fieldcommon, Hampton Court (there are actually at least three locations with this title, one in the midlands, one in King’s Lynn, and this one which is the parvenu of the three), Teddington, Ham, Petersham, East Sheen, Barnes Bridge, Castelnau, Parsons Green, from which it would follow the original as far as Hainault.
From Hainault, this line would then run to Chigwell Row, Lambourne End, Stapleford Abbots, Navestock, Kelvedon Hatch, Doddinghurst, Loves Green, Great Baddow and Chelmsford.
POSSIBLE EXTENSIONS TO THE CENTRAL ITSELF
Although West Ruislip is itself on the orbital route, my plan in the interest of greater integration would see the Central line run alongside the orbital through Ruislip Common and Northwood to Rickmansworth (and possibly services on the orbital would skip the two intermediate stops). This would give the Central line direct interchanges to both the northern and western segments of the orbital at that end. The Ealing Broadway branch would be extended by taking over the Greenford branch from mainline railways, and then rather than terminating at Greenford, services via Ealing would run through to Rickmansworth (yes there is scope for confusion, but I still think it could be made to work). Finally, the eastern end of the line would lose the Hainault loop, but the Eppin-Ongar section would be reopened, and then a further extension of 11.4 miles would take the line to Chelmsford, thereby connecting to both the northern and eastern segments of the orbital. The map below shows the area through which such an extension would run:
As you can see, this would give the Central line connection to three of the four segments of the orbital. I also have an idea for completing the set, namely reviving the old project for a Richmond extension, diverging from the main line at Shepherds Bush and running as follows: Seven Stars Corner, Bedford Park, rising to the surface at Gunnersbury, running along current District tracks to Richmond, and then calling additionally at Twickenham, Hanworth, Sunbury, Upper Halliford, Shepperton, Lower Halliford, Oatlands Park, Weybridge, West Byfleet and Woking.
Having had a look at the history of the line, and also at a vision for future developments it is a time to change tack, and as with the posts about the Hammersmith and City, Piccadilly and Metropolitan lines we will now journey along the existing line.
We start our journey on the section of the line along which life expectancy falls by two months per minute of journey time (see the Dorling book):
The western point of the line, and the starting point for the longest continuous journey currently makeable on London Underground – 34.1 miles to Epping. The mainline railway from Marylebone calls at this station en route the High Wycombe, Banbury and Birmingham among other places, but although the railway snakes away into the distance the station has a fairly rural aspect. For more please see my previous post “West Ruislip and Ickenham”
The point at which the railway into Marylebone diverges from the Central line.
The northern terminus of a small branch line from Ealing, which as I have already indicated I see as being suitable for being subsumed into the Central line. As currently constituted the station, which is elevated, although not quite so dramatically as Alperton on the Piccadilly line has three platforms, two through platforms for the Central and a single terminal platform for the branch line. In my scheme this would become four platforms, all operated by the Central line. Greenford is also notable for the presence of the old Hoover building (now a Tesco superstore).
The last station on this branch before the joining point at North Acton, this area is chiefly notable for four words capable in conjunction of reducing any London based motorist to a quivering wreck: Hanger Lane Gyratory System (a very regular feature of traffic bulletins for those who listen to the radio):
Before we continue our journey eastwards, we have a small gap to fill (no branches ignored by this writer)…
The other western terminus of this line, a junction with the District and with mainline railways (although trains going that far do not call at Ealing Broadway this is the original Great Western Railway, along which trains travel to Penzance, West Wales (the divergence point between these two routes is at Bristol) and also up to Banbury via Oxford).
One of no fewer than seven stations in London to feature Acton as part of its name (the other two Actons on the Central, Acton Town on the District and Piccadilly, South Acton and Acton Central on London Overground and Acton Mainline on First Great Western), and the only other station besides Ealing Broadway on this branch.
The point at which, in our direction of travel, the Ealing and West Ruislip branches merge.
Although the stadium is long since gone, and built over, this was the site of London’s first Olympics in 1908. These games may well have saved the Olympics, because although the first modern Olympics at Athens in 1896 had been a great success, and the intercalated games of 1906 back at Athens almost equally so, the 1900 and 1904 games were both in differing ways epic fails. Paris 1900 represents the only occasion on which the Olympics have been in the shadow of another event (the Exposition Universelle) – to such an extent that some of the medal winners were not even aware of the significance of their achievement. As for St Louis 1904, a combination of absurdly long duration (in excess of three months), and the cost of travel for non-Americans meant that it was more like an inter-college tournament than an international event. Just to make things even worse, after the games proper were finished, the organisers staged what they called “Anthropological Games” (I leave this to your imagination!).
These games, centred on a stadium designed by Charles Perry specifically for the occasion (he also got the same gig for Stockholm 1912 – he must have been good), were tremendously successful. There were a couple of unsavoury incidents, the ‘Dorando Marathon’, where Dorando Pietri of Italy entered the stadium first, but on the point of collapse, was assisted by officials, and the Americans submitted a protest on behalf of the second athlete into the stadium, their own John Joseph Hayes, which was upheld. The other incident also involved American athletes, two of whom deliberately crowded Wyndham Halswelle (GB) in the mens 400m, causing a British judge to declare the race void and order a rerun, which the Americans refused to take part in.
Among the other medallists was J W H T Douglas (better known as a cricketer – those who saw him bat reckoned those initials stood for Johnny Won’t Hit Today) who won gold in the middleweight boxing.
The station at White City was originally called Wood Lane…
Having said a lot about White City, other than a brief pointer to my previous post “Notting Hill Gate” I am going to skip several stops before paying a call at…
This is first of a run of four stations served by the Central line that take you through London’s best known shopping area. Speakers Corner is a few minutes walk from this station.
Once upon a time this station had a frontage designed by Charles Holden, but that has long since gone, as the space directly above the station is now a shopping centre called West 1 (name taken directly from the postcode). Bond Street, currently served by the Central and Jubilee lines, is one of the places that will be served by East-West crossrail. Also, Bond Street is the local station for a well known classical music venue, Wigmore Hall…
One of the busiest stations on the entire network, there are interchanges with the Central and Bakerloo lines here. Also, in conjunction with Bond Street, and the Bakerloo line route from here to Piccadilly Circus, which follows the curve of Regent Street, this comes closest of any stretch of London Underground to including a complete set of monopoly board properties.
TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD
The last of the four station sequence along London’s two best known shopping streets, this station has undergone huge redevelopment…
I covered Holborn in “Project Piccadilly“, and Chancery Lane deserves only a brief mention for the fact that officially, “The City” starts here, which bring us to…
The current St Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Christopher Wren (there is stone in there with a message carved on it reading “If you seek my monument look all around you”), is the third on the site in its long history. St Pauls is also the closest station to the Museum of London through one window of which you can view a still standing section of the old walls of the Roman trading post Londinium.
The heart of “The City”. The Central was the third line to serve a Bank, following the Waterloo and City (opened 1898, the second oldest of the deep level tube lines), and the City & South London, extended here in anticipation of the opening of the Central in early 1900. There are escalators connecting the various lines at Bank (including the Docklands Light Railway) to Monument (District and Circle, opened 1884). This latter station takes its name from another Wren creation, which stands 202 feet tall and is precisely 202 feet from the spot where the Great Fire of London started in 1666.
Skating over Liverpool Street, we come next to…
Bethnal Green features in some of Edward Marston’s Railway Mysteries, as an area so forbidding that even the exceedingly tough Sergeant Leeming does not relish visiting it. Also, Bethnal Green is home to the Museum of Childhood, which is definitely well worth a visit.
Although there are some small sections of the Central that are in tunnel east of here, this is the last station in the continuous underground section that begins at Shepherd’s Bush. As mentioned in my Hammersmith and City line post the interchange here is a unique one.
As currently constituted this is the easternmost station on the Central to have an interchange to other lines (The Jubilee, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, mainline local, national and international railways. This is where London 2012 took place, London following Athens (1896, the intercalated games of 1906 and 2004) in staging a third games (The USA including its disastrous first foray in 1904 has actually staged four summer Olympics – Los Angeles in 1932 and 1984 and Atlanta in 1996 being the others).
This is one of the not so exclusive club of places where Essex County Cricket Club have played home games (at one time they played regularly at eight different grounds, which one player likened to being permanently on tour). Charles Kortright, author of the single most devastating put down that W.G.Grace ever suffered: “Going already Doctor? But there’s still one stump standing” was born here. On one occasion his fiery fast bowling led spectators to debate whether in the event of his killing someone the correct charge would be manslaughter or murder.
This is the point at which the southern part of the Hainault loop diverges from the rest of the Central line, and before continuing our journey on the main route we are going to sample it.
WANSTEAD – FAIRLOP
Redbridge has the shallowest platforms of any fully enclosed London Undeground station, just 26 feet below the surface. Gants Hill and Newbury Park are notable for their external buildings – Gants Hill features a tower, while Newbury Park has a remarkable covered car park. Fairlop, reminding us that we are getting into open territory has a Country Park, Fairlop Waters.
Hainault Forest has been publicised for many years. I customised this replica of a promotional poster originally advertising a bus route to suit the modern era…
THE NORTH SECTION OF THE LOOP
Grange Hill was the setting a childrens TV Programme way back when (it was old when I was a child). Chigwell also has a TV pedigree – the hit comedy series Birds of a Feather was set there. Roding Valley is utterly undistinguished.
BACK TO THE MAIN LINE
South Woodford and Woodford are the last two stations covered in the Dorling book, and the story he tells comes full circle here, ending as it began, with someone who works in the Office for National Statistics.
Buckhurst Hill is of no great significance, and Loughton, with its splendid Great Eastern style station (this whole section from Stratford on was originally part of the Great Eastern railway) has already had the full post treatment from me. I will pass Debden and Theydon Bois swiftly, bringing us to our journey’s end at…
We are now at the northernmost station currently served by London Underground (the line from here to Ongar, which when I last visited could still be seen runs virtually due north, while my envisaged route to Chelmsford would then be going practically due east from Ongar). This end of the line, even having been cut back from Ongar, does feel very isolated, because one has to travel a fair distance before meeting an interchange, and with Epping-Ongar being run as a shuttle service rather than a through route, Ongar felt exceedingly isolated. This is why I envisage a through route to Chelmsford, the county town of Essex, with a connection to mainline railways, and my envisaged London Orbital Railway, which given the way that network has developed I now see as forming the outer boundary of an expanded London Overground.
MAPS AND ENDNOTES
First of all, my last couple of pictures, one from London Underground: A Diagrammatic History and one showing the modern day connections:
This journey through the Central line’s history, with more than a glance towards the future, and then a journey along the line as constituted has been great fun to write – I hope you find it as fun to read, and for those who have reached the terminating point of this great ride I have one final message…
Welcome to the latest addition to my series “London Station by Station“. My post on the Hammersmith and City line enjoyed some success, and my second essay in covering a whole line in one post, Project Piccadilly, was even more successful, featuring in two online publications. So now I am producing a third post of that type, this time on the Metropolitan line.
Metropolitan by name, very unmetropolitan by nature. Also, it is classed as London Underground, but most of its length is in the open air. The only stretch of this line is currently constituted that follows the original Metropolitan Railway is from just west of Farringdon to just east of Baker Street (The original eastern terminus was at Farringdon Street, just south of the present station, and the Metropolitan platforms at Baker Street (nos 1-4) are not those used by the original line). Almost the entire length of the current line (and there was once a lot more of it as you will see in due course) developed from…
A SINGLE TRACK BRANCH FROM BAKER STREET TO SWISS COTTAGE
In 1868 a single track spur was opened from the Metropolitan Railway running north from Baker Street to St John’s Wood Road, Marlborough Road and terminating at Swiss Cottage. It was this little spur that caught the attention of Edward Watkin, who saw it as having a role to play in achieving his dream of a rail network linking Paris, London and Manchester, his three favourite cities (he would have managed this had he not been baulked over his version of the Channel Tunnel, which eventually opened a century later).
That single track spur would be doubled, and from its next point north, Finchley Road, quadrupled and it would spread out into the hinterlands of Buckinghamshire, giving rise to a number of new branches. At its absolute height there were branches terminating at Uxbridge (sill present in its entirety), Stanmore (still served but not by the Met), Watford (still present as opened in 1925), Chesham (still as opened in 1889), Verney Junction (a place of no significance near modern day Milton Keynes) and Brill (at 51 miles from Baker Street the furthest point from London reached by any London Underground line). The latter two branches were closed in the middle 1930s, services terminating at Quainton Road just beyond Aylesbury for a time, until further paring back to Aylesbury (still served by mainline trains, with a new station at Aylesbury Vale Parkway just beyond Aylesbury itself) and finally Amersham, the current outlying point of the system, a mere 27 miles from Baker Street.
After the expansionism of Watkin, the third of the three great figures in the development of the Metropolitan took over, Robert Hope Selbie, creator of “Metroland”.
To help you orient yourself here are some maps…
To finish this section, The Stanmore branch, along with the intermediate stations between Finchley Road and Wembley Park, and new tube-level intermediates between Baker Street and Finchley Road was taken over by the Bakerloo line in 1939, and then to ease congestion on the latter by the new Jubilee line (with brand spanking new stations at Bond Street, Green Park and Charing Cross as well).
Of the Metropolitan branches that are still served by that line, the Amersham and Watford branches would be subsumed into my plans for a London Orbital Railway (Rickmansworth would be the northwestern corner of the orbital network itself, with a spur running via Amersham and Aylesbury to form significant connections at Oxford and/ or Milton Keynes (see the section above, and also my post “Ongar”). The Chesham branch would then become one of just two Metropolitan branches, with a northward extension to Tring and another interchange with mainline railways. The Uxbridge branch would remain unchanged, though gaining a connection with the Orbital route. At the other end, Aldgate would be abandoned as a terminus, the track connection from Aldgate East to Shadwell be revived for the Metropolitan, and a connection via New Cross to South Eastern tracks and Metropolitan services running through to Sevenoaks would further increase the London Underground presence in Southeast London and West Kent (see Project Piccadilly for another envisaged connection to this part of the world). The reason for projecting this line over existing track rather than looking at a completely new route is that is one of the old lines, built to mainline specifications and its tunnels were built using the cut-and-cover method, which makes building new tunnel sections more problematic than for a deep-level tube line.
THE TRANSITION POINT
At this stage of proceedings, having seen the Metropolitan lines past, present and a possible vision for its future we are going to make a journey along the line as it is currently constituted, so fasten your seatbelts…
ALDGATE – BAKER STREET
This section has been covered in great detail in previous posts of mine:
This is the last underground segment of the Metropolitan line, and you can see the platforms and some of the signs of old stations which were closed when the Bakerloo line Stanmore branch opened in 1939. Just before emerging into the open air, the Metropolitan tracks diverge to make way for the emerging Jubilee (former Bakerloo) tracks. From the platform at Finchley Road one can see the 1939 tunnel end. As at other places where ‘tube’ and ‘subsurface’ trains enter tunnels close together there are protective mechanisms to prevent a subsurface level train that gets on the wrong tracks from reaching (and colliding with) the beginning of a tube tunnel.
FINCHLEY ROAD – WEMBLEY PARK
There are no fewer than five Jubilee line stations between these two, all originally served by the Metropolitan and hence with platforms at the ‘compromise’ height also seen where the Piccadilly shares tracks with the District and Metropolitan lines. The Metropolitan has four tracks between Finchley Road and Moor Park and this feature is used to enable trains to Amersham to skip stops – they go fast from Finchley Road to Harrow-on-the-Hill and then fast from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Moor Park. On the route used by Watford and Uxbridge trains (there are currently few through services to Chesham) the next stop is Wembley Park. Whichever route you are on this section features the highest speeds anywhere on London Underground, in the vicinity of 70mph.
Wembley Park is the local station for Wembley Stadium. Between those who think that England has no need for a single national football stadium and those who think that the national football stadium should be in the midlands Wembley has a lot of detractors. I have sympathy with both the camps mentioned in the previous paragraph – I would not have gone for a national football stadium but even accepting the need for such, the midlands would have been the place to build it. I did get to the original Wembley once, to attend a mass given by the then pope, John Paul II.
WEMBLEY PARK TO HARROW-ON-THE-HILL
There are two intermediate stations between these two, Preston Road, which has been served since 1908 and Northwick Park, which opened only in 1923.By comparison, Harrow-on-the-Hill opened in 1880. Harrow-on-the-Hill is the first stop on the line from Marylebone to Aylesbury and it is also the point at which the Uxbridge branch of the Metropolitan diverges from the rest.
THE UXBRIDGE BRANCH
For more detail on this branch please consult Project Piccadilly. Rayners Lane, where the two lines converge for the run to Uxbridge is one of only two direct interchanges between the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines, the other being at that vast node point, King’s Cross St Pancras.
HARROW-ON-THE-HILL TO MOOR PARK
Amersham trains, as mentioned above, run non-stop between these two stations. Watford trains call on the way at North Harrow, Pinner, Northwood Hills (where Bodilsen UK had one of their shops when I worked for them as a data input clerk) and Northwood. Of these four stations, only Pinner (1885) dates from when the track was laid down, the others being later additions. Moor Park itself only opened in 1910, originally as Sandy Lodge, which became Moor Park & Sandy Lodge in 1923 and Moor Park in 1950. Moor Park marks the end of the section on which there is a division between slow and fast services. In the days before it was considered necessary to include all London Underground stations in travel card zones, Moor Park was the outermost station on the Metropolitan which could be legally visited on a travel card (the only other section of London Underground to be outside the travel card zones was the eastern end of the Central line, where the boundary station was Loughton). The other point of significance about Moor Park is that it is the divergence point for the…
Just two stations, Croxley and Watford, both opened in 1925. Croxley is less than 200 yards from Croxley Green, terminus of a minor side branch of the mainline railway from Watford Junction. This has given rise to various proposals involving linking the Metropolitan to Watford Junction. My own speculative scheme is for this branch, and the Croxley Green branch to form part of the northern leg of the London Orbital Railway, along with the Amersham branch, making use of the Rickmansworth-Watford curve, and another underused branch line between Watford and St Albans. For more on this part of the world I recommend F W Goudie and Douglas Stuckey’s book “West of Watford: Watford Metropolitan & the L.M.S Croxley Green and Rickmansworth branches. Also, do check out my post on Watford and Watford Junction.
Rickmansworth opened in 1887, and in 1925 link from Rickmansworth to Croxley on the Watford branch was opened, and subsequently closed in 1960. Rickmansworth is also the outermost station on the Metropolitan to have been shown on Henry C Beck’s first attempt at a schematic diagram of London Underground (one of the great design coups of the 20th century).
RICKMANSWORTH – CHALFONT & LATIMER
This section opened in 1889, with one intermediate station at Chorleywood. These days Chalfont & Latimer has two services running from it: through services from Aldgate to Amersham and a shuttle service to and from Chesham. Ironically given that it now has the minor role, Chesham opened first in 1889. In 1989 to celebrate the centenary a steam service ran through to Chesham, starting from Baker Street.
THE CHESHAM SHUTTLE
It took 50 years from the idea first being mooted for Chesham to acquire a train service. Edward Watkin, under whose aegis the line was opened envisaged a further northern extension making use of a natural gap in the Chilterns to connect with London and North Western (as it was in those days) at Tring. Further information about the Chesham branch and its history can be found in Clive Foxell’s book “The Chesham Shuttle”. The journey from Chalfont & Latimer to Chesham is the longest single stop journey on the system at 3.89 miles (a mere 24.3 times the length of the shortest, from Leicester Square to Covent Garden).
This is the end of our journey along the current Metropolitan line. It is the highest point above sea level anywhere on the system, 500 feet up in the Chilterns. Beyond here, the current main line continues to Great Missenden, Wendover, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway.
I hope you have enjoyed the ride so far. I will finish this post by making one final reference to my future vision of public transport in and around London, and the role of the Metropolitan in it. Given the closeness of its integration with the London Orbital Railway Network, and the fact that my envisaged south eastern extension utilizes London Overground, and that it would make sense for the London Orbital Railway to form the outer limits of the London Overground network, I could see the Metropolitan line being subsumed completely into a greatly expanded London Overground network, meaning either that the Metropolitan line would disappear from London Underground maps or that the Hammersmith and City line, which contains the entire surviving portion of the original Metropolitan Railway should be renamed the Metropolitan in deference to its history. Here a couple of map pics to finish, one a heavily edited shot from the Diagrammatic History an one showing the current Metropolitan line’s connections.
This post is associated with my “London Station by Station” series. I was gratified by the response that overview of the Hammersmith and City line received, and so now I am producing a piece about the Piccadilly line which will be much longer, as there is is much more to say…
The Piccadilly line came into existence as a compromise project taking elements from three distinct schemes. An excellent explanation for this is provided by Desmond F. Croome in his “The Piccadilly Line: An Illustrated History”
Still, not event the combination of this bizarre origin and the schemozzle at Heathrow gains the Piccadilly line the status of London Underground’s no 1 bodge job – for more about that you will have to wait until I feel strong enough to tackle the Northern line!
To give you an overview of the line both in its history and as it stands today here a some images…
Having set the scene, it is time to strap yourselves in for…
I am starting slightly out of position, for reasons that will reveal themselves at the end of the post, with Southgate, which I have given a previous post in the series. For full details you will need to read that post, but Southgate has two features of significance to me: it was the home of the Walker brothers, and in that context Middlesex still play some games of cricket at the Walker ground; and it is home to quirk illustrated by this picture…
That attended to, we can now get back on the journey proper starting at…
This station opened in 1933, and still today it is in a very rural setting. Other than being the starting point for our journey it has no real distinguishing features.
In the direction in which we travel, this marks a transition point – this is the last station at surface level until we emerge at Barons Court.
This is one of two stations, the other being a main line railway station, Alexandra Palace, which serve Alexandra Palace. Whichever you choose you have a long climb ahead of you to reach your objective, although it is worth it for the views at the end. This picture, courtesy of google, shows some of the frontage of the palace itself…
This is the Piccadilly line’s first interchange with any other in our direction of travel. As well as a connection to mainline railways, there is a cross-platform interchange to the Victoria line. It was also the original terminus at this end of the line when the Piccadilly line opened in 1907. Because it was after I had made this particular change in reverse that I got the picture in question, here is a Piccadilly route map as seen in train carriage…
The only station on London Underground to be named after a football club. The club which started life as Dial Square, changed its name to Woolwich Arsenal, of which it was originally the works team and then moved away from Woolwich, dropping the prefix of its name has since moved yet again, to another new stadium. Herbert Chapman who had earlier won three successive championships with Huddersfield Town and even earlier been lucky to survive a match fixing scandal that saw his then club Leeds City thrown out of the league was the person who successfully suggested the name change from the original Gillespie Road, with greater success than Mr Selfridge had enjoyed with his suggestion to the then independent Central London Railway that they might care to rename Bond Street station in honour of his establishment.
I have covered this both in an individual post and in the earlier piece about the Hammersmith and City line. To these I add only that the Piccadilly line is the second deepest line at the station, the Northern line being deeper.
Russell Square is one of the few deep level stations to have no escalators – you have a choice between lifts or stairs. It is also the closest station to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where I was a patient for over a year of my life, in my case in the Mildred Creak unit. For more details about how to locate this hospital, check out their own guide.
One final Russell Square connection – it is the home station for the Institute of Education, which is a regular venue for the annual five-day political festival Marxism and also happens to the place that I visited the first time I ever took part in an Autism Research project – this one being carried out by a woman named Sian Fitzpatrick.
This station is the only official interchange between the Piccadilly and Central lines. When I first used it as a child there were wooden escalators – mind this was in an era when deep-level tube trains using carriages with maple slatted floors and wooden side panels had smoking compartments – health and safety was not considered so important then. Today, Holborn is an ordinary mid-route station, but that was not always the case, and I believe it should not be the case. This is the preamble to…
A MAJOR DIGRESSION
From 1907 until 1994 there was a branch running south from Holborn to Aldwych. It was not doing much by the end of its life, but closure was not the only option – it was ideally placed for an extension into Southeast London and West Kent. I have already linked to the post I put up about Aldwych early on in this series, but in that post I did not give details of my envisaged extension, an omission I rectify as part of this project.
Reestablishing the Aldwych connection, the route would then go:
Blackfriars (District, Circle, mainline railways), London Bridge (Northern – Bank branch, Jubilee, mainline railways), Bermondsey (Jubilee), Surrey Quays (London Overground), Mudchute (DLR), Cutty Sark (DLR), Greenwich Park, Blackheath (mainline railways), Eltham High Street, New Eltham, Longlands, Sidcup High Street, Foots Cray, Ruxley, Hockenden, Crockenhill, Hulberry, Eynsford (mainline railways), Maplescombe, West Mingsdown, Fairseat, Vigo Village, Ditton, Maidstone West (mainline railways), Maidstone East (mainline railways).
The Maidstone connection is important because very isolated ends of lines can end up not getting much use (see Ongar in this series), and by extending it the extra distance to have both the interchanges in and population of Maidstone to bolster its usage one increases the likelihood of it working. The other particularly significant stop in the outer reaches of the extension is Eynsford, not major enough to be a suitable terminus, but definitely has much worth visiting, led by the scenic Darent Valley and the historic Roman Villa down the road at Lullingstone.
BACK TO THE JOURNEY
The digression done, it is time to resume our progress along the Piccadilly, which next takes us to…
I have already covered this area at some length in a previous post to which I now direct you. What I failed to mention in that post is that there is also a quite pleasant walking route from here to Waterloo, and all the attractions I have listed in that post.
This station has a connection to the Northern line (Charing Cross branch). Also, until the refurbishment of Angel (Northern, Bank branch) it had the longest escalators to be found anywhere on the system. At 0.16 miles apart it and Covent Garden are the two closest neighbours on the entire system. Leicester Square serves an area of London known as Chinatown.
The station that gives its name to the line, it has an interchange with the Bakerloo line. Piccadilly is home to the Eros statue. It features in at least two series of novels set in Restoration England, Edward Marston’s Redmayne series and Susannah Gregory’s Chaloner series.
Interchanges with the Victoria and Jubilee lines.
HYDE PARK CORNER
One of several stations serving London’s largest park. This is also the local station for the Albert Hall.
Museum central – see the first post in this series for more detail. Also, the point at which one the projects that were fused together to make the Piccadilly line – a plan for a ‘deep level District’ line to ease congestion on the original District – from here to Earls Court the Piccadilly follows the District exactly, then skips West Kensington, joining the District at the surface at Barons Court. After Hammersmith the Piccadilly runs fast to Acton Town while the district has intermediate stops at Ravenscourt Park, Stamford Brook, Turnham Green and Chiswick Park. Occasional Piccadilly trains stop at Turnham Green where the Richmond branch of the District diverges, but the major branching point is…
Nowadays the District only goes beyond Acton Town as far as Ealing Broadway, but the entire Uxbridge branch of the Piccadilly and the Heathrow branch as far as Hounslow West were originally served by the District and feature platforms at the compromise height used for cross-platform interchanges between ‘tube’ and ‘subsurface’ lines. This station adjoins the Acton Works, where rolling stock is maintained and overhauled. We will explore the Heathrow branch first…
ALWAYS AVOID ALL ALLITERATION
The joke instruction used as this section heading refers to the fact that the three Hounslow’s, Hatton Cross and the three Heathrow stations all being with the letter H – and if you are on a train running the loop route (Terminals 1,2 and 3 and then terminal 4, as opposed to the direct Terminal 5 route), you would in total, between departing Hounslow East one way and returning there in the other direction see station names beginning with H 11 times on the trot.
THE HEATHROW SCHEMOZZLE
When the Piccadilly was first extended to serve Heathrow one station, unimaginatively named Heathrow Central was deemed sufficient. Then, in 1986, Terminal 4 opened, and was not accessible from the existing station. A terminal loop was constructed with a new station built on it to serve Terminal 4. So far, so good, but then the folk who run Heathrow decided that a mere four terminals were insufficient for the number of flights they wanted to run, and a fifth terminal, not accessible from either existing station was built. So we now have a bizarre configuration whereby there is simultaneously a terminal loop and an ordinary direct terminus constructed specially to serve Terminal 5. Quite what sort of arrangement will result if and when a Terminal 6 gets the go-ahead is beyond me to imagine.
I have covered the quirky feature of this station in a previous post.
There are two stations on this branch bearing the name Sudbury, Sudbury Hill an Sudbury Town. I am concentrating on the latter because as a Grade 1 listed building it stands as an example of the best of London Underground architecture. Like so many of the finest examples, this station was designed by the legendary Charles Holden. To find out more about Holden and his work I recommend strongly that you consult David Lawrence’s magnificent Bright Underground Spaces, in which I located these pictures that relate to Sudbury Town…
The last station before this branch meets the Metropolitan for the run to Uxbridge. The Metropolitan converges from a station called West Harrow, while all the other branches of that line bar the Uxbridge one pass through North Harrow. Once upon a time a school opened to serve “30 poor children of the parish of Harrow”. The school is still there, but it is a long time since any poor children got to go there.
This is the meeting point, and for a long time this was a regular terminating point for Piccadilly line services except at peak periods. This is the last marked interchange on the Piccadilly line, although you could change to the Metropolitan anywhere between here and Uxbridge should you desire it.
RUISLIP MANOR AND RUISLIP
Ruislip is an occasional terminating point, although most trains that go that far go on to Uxbridge. These two stations both serve Ruislip Lido, home to among other things the smallest gauge passenger carrying railway in Britain. I have assembled some links for you:
I mentioned earlier in this post that Holborn is the only officially recognised interchange between the Piccadilly and Central lines. For all that is in the region of a 10 minute walk to get from this station to West Ruislip I consider that this should be a recognised interchange – for more detail consult this post.
The current Hillingdon station opened in 1992, but there was an earlier Hillingdon station which opened in 1923. In 1934 this station was renamed Hillingdon (Swakeleys). The suffix was gradually dropped over time, but leaves the question “what is Swakeleys?” to have such significance. The answer, as an internet search reveals is that it is a school. As far as can ascertain it is the only school to have officially formed part of a station name (the stations with Harrow in their name refer to the location not the the school per se). There is also a well known hospital in Hillingdon.
We have reached the end of our journey. The present Uxbridge station opened in 1934, but there has been a station at Uxbridge since 1903. In so far as anywhere so rural can be this is something of a transport hub as several bus services make use of the station forecourt. Now it is time to reveal the solution to the teaser I set as to why I started out of position at Southgate: the connection is a cricketing one – yes we are back in Middlesex out ground territory. Sadly, other than knowing that Middlesex sometimes play there I cannot recall anything about cricket at Uxbridge – no remarkable matches spring to mind, nor great players especially associated with the ground.
SOME FINAL WORDS
This post does not make any claim to be a definitive account of the Piccadilly line – it is a strictly personal view of the highlights of the line that has more stations than any other deep level ‘tube’ lines and is only beaten by the District among the ‘subsurface’ lines, and I have ignored many stations altogether and given quite a few others only sparse coverage. I hope that you have all enjoyed the ride!
The Metropolitan line’s Uxbridge branch, on which Ickenham is located, opened in 1904. The District line started running services along there in 1910, and these were subsequently switched to the Piccadilly line in the 1930s. Central line services were extended to their current western terminus at West Ruislip in 1948.
The two stations are quite close together (about 10 mins walk apart at surface level) and the largest depot anywhere on the London Underground network also provides track connections between them, as it used by the Piccadilly, Metropolitan (Uxbridge) and Central (West Ruislip) lines. Also, unlike some other interchanges that go unacknowledged (e.g Belsize Park and Gospel Oak) it is not especially difficult to think of journeys where this interchange might be useful (Uxbridge to Hanger Lane is one example).
Previously I have limited this series to coverage of individual stations, but now I am introducing something new – full line coverage in single posts. I will give a brief glimpse of this history the line and then a little journey from west to east along the current line. I hope you all enjoy this.
THE GREAT ORIGINAL
On January the 10th 1863 the history of public transport changed forever. It was then, having been constructed at the urging of city solicitor Charles Pearson in conjunction with a major road building scheme, that the world’s first underground railway, The Metropolitan Railway, opened for business. It covered just seven stops (about one fortieth of the number now served by London Underground) from Bishop’s Road (Paddington) to Farringdon Street (a little to the south of present day Farringdon). Only one line serves all of the surviving original stations (the circle and district station at Paddington is a later creation, originally called Praed Street), and that is the Hammersmith and City line. Although this was only officially separated from the Metropolitan line in 1990, it makes sense for the purposes of this section to talk about all the branches the relate to this section as though it had always been separate. Viewed in this way, there were a total of three branches that are no longer served:
Latimer Road to Kensington (Addison Road), which latter station is now called Kensington Olympia – the London Underground connection to it from the north was severed in 1940 and has never been reinstated. Goldhawk Road to Richmond, which was served between 1877 and 1906. The only station which was completely lost as a result of the cutting of this connection was Hammersmith (Grove Road). The final connection was a track connection via a long since defunct station called St Mary’s to Shadwell on what used to be the East London line and is now part of London Overground, though deeper below the surface than any of the remaining ‘subsurface’ stations on London Underground.
Before moving on to the journey, here are a couple of map pics…
I am not going to cover every station – just those that have a particular association for me. Those who have read previous posts of mine about this subject will be aware that I was disgusted by Philippe Parreno’s failure to meet the brief (in my eyes) for his contribution to Penguin’s 150th anniversary series of books when he got this line and produced a book that contained no words, just a series of very ethereal pictures which bore little apparent relation to the subject.
There is a shopping centre here, also the Lyric theatre, and although I mentioned him in piece on Baron’s Court, you are withing easy walking distance of St Paul’s Girls School, where Gustav Holst was once director of music.
It was from this station that the line to what is now Kensington Olympia diverged, and because this is an elevated section, track heading towards Olympia is clearly visible from the train as you travel past here.
This is the only one of the London mainline railway termini where a London Underground line is structurally part of the station. This dates to the original opening of the Metropolitan railway in 1863, when they used locomotives supplied by the Great Western Railway before falling out with that company and switching to stock supplied by the Great Northern before finally developing some of their own.
This is where the Circle line and a spur of the District meet the Hammersmith and City line (the District and Circle “Paddington” represents a decent interchange to the Bakerloo, but for the Hammersmith and City you are much better off travelling the extra stop to Edgware Road and making a cross-platform interchange.
The Hammersmith and City line platforms here (nos 5 and 6 out of a total of 10) have been restored to look as they did in 1863. This is also home to Madame Tussauds, The Planetarium and of course it is where the world’s first consulting detective had his practice.
As well as being across the road from London’s first mainline railway terminal (Euston), this is the home station for University College London (UCL for short). Just round the corner from this station is Warren Street (Northern and Victoria lines), and a view at surface level that includes both the BT Tower and Centrepoint.
KINGS CROSS ST PANCRAS
At the surface a complete contrast in styles between the ‘fairytale castle’ that is St Pancras and the largely anonymous Kings Cross. The train from King’s Lynn to London terminates at King’s Cross, usually in the ‘side’ section that comprises platforms 8-11. It is here that claims to be the site for platform 9 3/4 from which the Hogwarts Express departs.
A cross-platform interchange to Thameslink services running between Bedford and Brighton. When I worked at Interpretations I used this station regularly. I also recall this area as home to the Betsey Trotwood, a pub that combined two things I love – Dickens and Real Ale.
This station opened as Aldersgate Street, then became Aldersgate before finally getting its present name of Barbican. This is one of the venues where I listened to live classical music when I lived in London. I also saw various Royal Shakespeare Company productions here.
There is a terminus here for mainline trains coming in from Finsbury Park, and there used to be a spur of Thameslink to here as well, but all of these were below the surface here, so there have never been any above ground tracks. With my home station being Tooting Bec, I used the Northern line platforms here more often than the others. Although St Pauls on the Central line is closer, I used to use this station on occasion to visit the Museum of London – accessible from there by way of the Barbican Centre.
An interchange to mainline railways, and also to the Central line. Also the point at which the Hammersmith and City diverges from the Circle and Metropolitan lines which go to Aldgate, while the Hammersmith and City heads to…
This is where the Hammersmith and City and District lines meet, and from the platforms here you can see Circle and Metropolitan line trains heading in to Aldgate as well. It was just beyond this station that a side branch used to diverge to St Mary’s and Shadwell, joining what was then the East London Railway, has subsequently been the East London line of London Underground and is now a section of London Overground.
An interchange between the District and Hammersmith and City lines and London Overground. Currently in the news because a museum supposed to be dedicated to women was actually a Jack the Ripper museum, which led to a petition and a project to create a museum that really is dedicated to the women of the East end.
The only underground cross-platform interchange between a deep-level tube line and subsurface lines on the entire system. This station also has large enamelled maps from times past featuring the Metorpolitan and District lines.
Interchanges with mainline railways, London Overground, The Jubilee Line and the Docklands Light Railway (this branch has taken over Stratford-North Woolwich, which was previously on Silverlink Metro (London Overground’s predecessor) with the addition of a trans-Thames extension to Woolwich Arsenal).
This is the eastern end of the Hammersmith and City line, although the District continues to Upminster (logic would seem to suggest that the H&C with far less to the west than the District should do the longer haul east rather than vice versa). This station has interchanges with main line railways (to Southend and Shoeburyness) and London Overground (a branch line the other end of which is at Gospel Oak).
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.
Whitechapel, which today serves the District and Hammersmith and City lines with a quirky interchange to London Overground, first opened in 1884, although the current station dates only from 1913. The quirkiness of the interchange to London Overground lies in the fact that the direction of travel from London Underground to London Overground is downwards.
A while back a museum was given planning permission on the grounds that it would be dedicated to women of the East End. It turned out that the person behind it had been lying through their teeth and the museum was actually dedicated to Jack the Ripper. A petition having been launched against the Ripper museum, a determined group of people are now setting out to create a museum that genuinely is dedicated to the women of the East End, featuring stories like the one in this book: