The Aldwych Failure

INTRODUCTION

This post is about a station that is now closed, and the opportunities that were missed by that closure. A lot of it therefore is speculative in nature.

THE HISTORY

Aldwych was part of the original Piccadilly line that opened in 1906. In the early years of the line there was a Strand Theatre Train which ran straight through to the northern terminus rather than operating as a shuttle to Holborn where a change was then necessary. The significance of this fact should become more obvious later in the post, but meanwhile here is an extract from the Diagrammatic History:

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SEGUE: ALDWYCH ON THA-Z

To set the scene for the rest of this post I have some A-Z pages from just before the closure of Aldwych…

As the two individual shots show, Aldwych is on the edge of a map page.
As the two individual shots show, Aldwych is on the edge of a map page.

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Aldwych A-Z

Aldwych is very close to Temple, and this was recognized as an interchange when both stations were open, but my speculations centre mainly on two railway stations through which an extension from Aldwych could logically pass: Blackfriars and Waterloo.

MAIDSTONE VIA BLACKFRIARS AND/ OR SEVENOAKS VIA WATERLOO

Firstly, to make one thing clear, this branch would not be treated as a shuttle in my scheme, trains would run along it to and from Cockfosters. The two potential routes for my extension would be:

Via Waterloo: Waterloo, Elephant & Castle, Walworth, Old Kent Road, Queens Road Peckham, Brockley, Crofton Park, Catford, Grove Park, Sundridge, Elmstead Woods, Bickley, Jubilee Country Park, Orpington, Goddington, Chelsfield Village (which would have a connection to my envisaged London Orbital Railway – see this post for more details), Well Hill, Shoreham, Kemsing and Sevenoaks (thereby terminating somewhere with good onward connections in the form of mainline railways and – see here for more – London Overground)

Via Blackfriars: Blackfriars, London Bridge, Bermondsey, Surrey Quays, Mudchute, Island Gardens, Greenwich Park, Blackheath, Eltham High Street, New Eltham, Longlands, Sidcup High Street, Foots Cray, Ruxley, Hockenden, Crockenhill, Hulberry, Eynsford (connection to London orbital Railway in my scheme), Maplescombe, West Kingsdown, Fairseat, Vigo Village, Ditton, Maidstone West and Maidstone East (again terminating somewhere with mainline railway connections).

If forced to choose between the two plans I would opt for the second plan, going via Blackfriars. If both were to be built I would consider it an opportunity to advertise this wonderful walk, which would be within the ambit of London Underground:

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EXTRA SPECULATIONS

Of course, this scheme would make the Piccadilly line very large and sprawling., especially if my envisaged northward extension to Welwyn Garden City were also to be built. Ultimately, as a speculation on a speculation, I could see a split, as services run between Welwyn Garden City and Sevenoaks/ Maidstone on one line, Uxbridge/ Heathrow to Holborn on the other, with a possible eastward extension from Holborn to come.

CONCLUSION

My vision around Aldwych (and I travelled the by then shabby and ill-kept branch just before it closed) would see it not as an endpoint in which role it served little purpose, but as a starting point for new developments as outlined above.

Chingford and Loughton

INTRODUCTION

Following on from my post “Epping – Gateway to London“, this post features two old stations and some prime walking territory.

CONTRASTING HISTORIES

Chingford opened in 1878 as part of the Eastern Counties Railway, which subsequently became the Great Eastern Railway, and until this local commuter line was subsumed into London Overground there were no other significant changes. It had originally been seen as being an intermediate station, but then a change to the status of Epping Forest effectively rendered extension impossible (and quite rightly so).

Loughton, also originally on an Eastern Counties/ Great Eastern Railway branch, first opened in 1856, with the Central line taking over the running of this branch from Stratford to its original terminus at Ongar in 1948-9 (it is not the oldest section of line to be run be London Underground – the northern end of the High Barnet branch of the Northern line, which opened under the aegis of the London & North Eastern Railway in 1841 has that distinction). The station building at Loughton, pictured below (from this original posted on 150greatthingsabouttheunderground) clearly shows its Victorian origins:

Loughton Station

For more information about the two stations here a couple of links:

Chingford
Loughton

WHY THE JUXTAPOSITION?

First off, the two stations are actually reasonably close together (although not close enough for even me to suggest that it would be worth showing a potential interchange between them), as this map shows…

Chingford - Loughton

Secondly, while looking for walks around Epping, I saw this walk from Chingford to Epping which passes High Beach Visitor Centre:

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I recalled the route down from this visitor centre to Loughton station, following the Loughton Brook as being an attractive one (I walked it, in both directions, several times when I was living in London). Thus, given the amount of material I already had for the Epping post I decided on a second post to make use of this find. Here is the map produced by the visitor centre website:

Epping Forest

Also, just to show you the length of the long walking route I have in mind, Chingford-High Beach Visitor Centre – Loughton, here are two more maps…

The first section of the walk, from Chingford.
The first section of the walk, from Chingford.
The second section of the walk, to Loughton
The second section of the walk, to Loughton

Incidentally, one can follow the Loughton Brook beyond Loughton to the point at which it flows into the river Roding as well.

MORE MAPS

The maps in this section, some old and some new, show more detail about these stations…

An A-Z double page spread.
An A-Z double page spread.
The digrammatic history.
The digrammatic history.
A geographical London Connections map (from the latter half of the 1990s)
A geographical London Connections map (from the latter half of the 1990s)
The 2015 London Connections map
The 2015 London Connections map
A tiny extract from a very old railway map of Britain.
A tiny extract from a very old railway map of Britain.

AFTERWORD – ON FARE ZONES

When I first visited that part of the world, Loughton had an extra distinction – it was the last point on the Central line that one could visit on a travel card (the Metropolitan also had stations outside the travel card zones – Moor Park being the boundary in that case). Nowadays all of London Underground falls within one or other fare zone, and there is a suggestion (massively endorsed by this site) on the table from London mayoral candidate Sian Berry that would further simplify matters.

Epping – Gateway to London

INTRODUCTION

This post focuses on a single station. The idea developed from a conversation with a work colleague in which trips to London were mentioned and he explained that with a family of four it was cheaper to drive to Epping, stay overnight at a hotel there and use London Underground from there than to travel by train.

THE NORTHEASTERN CORNER

Epping, first served by London Underground in 1940 (the whole stretch of the Central line beyond Stratford started life as Great Eastern Railway branch line, and Loughton, three stops south of Epping, still has its Victorian era GER building), is now the north-eastern limit of the system (more of this later, and also see the speculative section of the piece about the central line). There is cheap hotel accommodation close to the station, which means the for folk who would naturally approach the city from the northeast and drive it is a good place to choose as a base for a visit to the capital. Because of its interchanges with every other line on the system the central line is a good one to be based on, as Danny Dorling in “The 32 Stops”, the best of the penguin series celebrating the 150th anniversary of London Underground, points out. A few examples of major attractions and the necessary connections follow:

  • The museums of South Kensington (either change at Mile End to the District or at Holborn to the Piccadilly according to choice, bonus tip: take a picnic with you and lunch in Hyde Park).
  • Maritime Greenwich – change at Stratford to the Docklands Light Railway and choose one of two possibilities:
    1)Alight at Island Gardens and take the foot tunnel to the Greenwich side of the Thames, returning to Greenwich having finished your explorations or…
    2)Unimaginatively alight at Cutty Sark to start your explorations there.
  • The British Museum – no changes needed as Tottenham Court Road is only a few hundred yards away.
  • Wembley Stadium – change at Stratford to the Jubilee or at Liverpool Street to the Metropolitan
  • The South Bank Centre – change at Tottenham Court Road to the Northern and go south to Embankment, strolling across the Thames from there (this is definitely quicker than travelling the extra stop to Waterloo).

At the moment Epping is at the outside edge of fare zone 6, although London mayoral candidate Sian Berry has an excellent idea that will change this – see the following:

  1. Sian’s own piece
  2. This Evening Standard article
  3. This piece about the debate on fares.
  4. The Fair Fares campaign

Having detailed Epping’s value as a base our next section looks at…

THINGS TO DO IN EPPING

I mentioned earlier that Epping was not always the end of the line. Until 1994 the line ran to Ongar, although the section between Epping and Ongar was run as a shuttle service, making it feel very isolated. It is this that is at the centre of Epping based activities. There is a walking route from Epping to Ongar as detailed in “Country Walks Around London”, walk 12. This walk is 5 miles in length, meaning that an energetic person could choose to do it both ways.

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However, there is also an alternative way of doing the same route, namely making use of the Epping-Ongar Railway, the longest heritage railway in Essex. Thus, if you want to explore this area that used by served by London Underground (and the village of Chipping Ongar is certainly worth a visit) you have a raft of options according to your energy levels:

  • Walk both ways
  • Walk out, Epping and Ongar Railway back
  • Epping and Ongar railway out, walk back
  • Epping and Ongar railway both ways

MAPS AND DIAGRAMS

Here are some pictures to help put Epping in context…

The Diagrammatic History
The Diagrammatic History
Epping today
Epping today
The map from which this picture comes is over 100 years old.
The map from which this picture comes is over 100 years old.
The London & Suburbs section ends at Woodford, which Danny Dorling echoed over a century later in The 32 Stops.
The London & Suburbs section ends at Woodford, which Danny Dorling echoed over a century later in The 32 Stops.
The first of two Google earth views
The first of two Google earth views

Epping2

This map featured in an article detailing the fact that London Overground will now run all suburban rail services in the capital.
This map featured in an article detailing the fact that London Overground will now run all suburban rail services in the capital.

 

Wood Green and Alexandra Palace

INTRODUCTION

This website grew out of series of blog posts that I dubbed “London Station by Station”, and this post is along those lines.

ONOSNOOKERTRIPLCROWN

I have chosen today for this post because The Masters, one of the three tournaments which along with the UK Championship and the World Championship that constitutes Snooker’s triple crown is under way. This tournament is nowadays staged at Alexandra Palace…

The home of The Masters snooker tournament, Alexandra Palace. Image from google: https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-rVSI8L_R9pw/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAAAAAOQ/iOf_mQ2ABr8/s0-c-k-no-ns/photo.jpg
The home of The Masters snooker tournament, Alexandra Palace. Image from google: https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-rVSI8L_R9pw/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAAAAAOQ/iOf_mQ2ABr8/s0-c-k-no-ns/photo.jpg

AN EXTENSION

The Piccadilly line opened between Finsbury Park and Hammersmith in 1906, and was extended northwards in three stages between 1932 and 1933. Wood Green was part of the first stage of the extension, from Finsbury Park to Arnos Grove. Phase two was an extension from Arnos Grove to Enfield West (now Oakwood), and the final part of the extension was to Cockfosters.

Here are some maps…

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A promotional map showing the central part of the Piccadilly, with some extensions visible...
A promotional map showing the central part of the Piccadilly, with some extensions visible…
Finsbury Park is followed as you go north by Manor House and Turnpike Lane, before yo get to Wood Green.
Finsbury Park is followed as you go north by Manor House and Turnpike Lane, before yo get to Wood Green.
Rolling out the new extension!
Rolling out the new extension!

ALEXANDRA PALACE & WOOD GREEN

Why am I using an event at Alexandra Palace to write about Wood Green? Because the two are very close together, as this picture from an old A-Z atlas of London shows:

As this shows, Alexandra Palace and Wood Green are very close - and the two stations (one rail, one underground) are both comfortably walkable from the main attraction.
As this shows, Alexandra Palace and Wood Green are very close – and the two stations (one rail, one underground) are both comfortably walkable from the main attraction.

I once had family living in this part of London, and often travelled to one or other of the two stations on the above map section at that time.

THE ALEXANDRA PALACE WALK

Although this walk, from “100 Walks in Greater London” is based around using Alexandra Palace railway station, it would not require much extension to make use of Wood Green.

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HISTORY AND CONNECTIONS

A couple of final map pictures, showing the history of Wood Green station and the modern connections of Wood Green and Alexandra Palace…

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South Kensington

INTRODUCTION

The first piece of writing I offered the public about London Underground was a blog post about this station. From that start grew this website, I now produce a new piece about…

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THE HISTORY

In 1868, The Metropolitan District Railway was opened as a partner to the Metropolitan Railway, with the intention of among other things creating an ‘Inner Circle’ linking all of central London’s main destinations. Due to frequent squabbles between the two organisations it was 16 years before the circle was completed. A legacy of this fractious beginning can be seen in the now unused bay platform that was created for the use of Metropolitan Railway trains. In 1906 the deep-level part of the station opened, when an amalgamation of parts of three proposed schemes opened running between Finsbury Park and Hammersmith (this is the nucleus of the modern Piccadilly line, since extended north to Cockfosters and having subsumed the Uxbridge and Hounslow branches of the District).

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MUSEUM MEDLEY

The chief point of interest of this station’s location are the museums which are close by. This is recognised in the presence of an underground passage from the ticket hall to Exhibition Road, with exits at the appropriate point for each museum. The number of museums in this area has reduced by one since I was a child because the Geological and Natural History museums were amalgamated to form one giant museum. There are now three major museums in this area:

what's on

The Natural History Museum

The Science Museum

V&A

The Victoria and Albert Museum

THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF MUSIC

The Royal College of Music is based on Prince Consort Road, very close to the Albert Hall, just south of Hyde Park. I have a map which makes it’s relevance to this station very obvious. Yet another famous place in this area.

RCM

A COUPLE OF ARCHITECTURAL QUIRKS

For those who shun the underground passageway referred to above, there is a small shopping arcade of the type that many London Underground stations used to have, and some attractive 1868 ironwork to have a look at.

SKA

Ironwork

MAPS – ANCIENT & MODERN

I conclude this  post with some maps showing the station’s history and modern connections…

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The July 2015 London Underground map.
The July 2015 London Underground map.
A North-South biased extract.
A North-South biased extract.
An East-West biased extract.
An East-West biased extract.

 

CHARING CROSS AND EMBANKMENT

INTRODUCTION

This post deals with two very close neighbours on the system. These stations are covered in my posts on the Bakerloo, District and Jubilee lines, but this offers a closer focus.

WHATS IN A NAME

Although only two stations currently appear on the map, we are actually dealing with three stations, the Bakerloo and Northern line Charing Cross platforms only getting that name and official linkage to each other in 1979, when the Jubilee opened with it’s southern terminus at Charing Cross (since abandoned when sensible plans for a south-easterly extension were warped out of all recognition by the greed of one government and the vanity of another).

Rather than list in detail all the name changes that have happened over the years, here is a close-up of the relevant section of the Diagrammatic History:

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THE DRAIN BRAIN

No I have got my words in the wrong order – the above heading is a family nickname for Joseph William Bazalgette, who designed London’s sewer system, and was also responsible for the embankment after which one of these stations is named. The District line tunnels were completed as part of the building of the embankment in 1868. I first learned about Joseph William Bazalgette from a piece about his great-great grandson, TV producer Peter Bazalgette in the April 1984 Bridge Magazine.

The whole double page spread
The whole double page spread
A close-up of the key paragraph.
A close-up of the key paragraph.

THE KNOWLEDGE

This is the test that all London Taxi drivers are required to pass to gain their licence. The knowledge in question is of every street within a ten kilometre radius of Charing Cross Station and the term ‘The Knowledge’ is believed to be derived from Sherlock Holmes who in The Adventure of the Red Headed League told Watson “It is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of London”.

PLACES OF INTEREST

We will start with…

TRAFALGAR SQUARE

The Bakerloo line station was originally named Trafalgar Square, in the centre of which stands Nelson’s Column, flanked by Edwin Landseer’s four bronze lions. The square is noted for the number of pigeons that congregate there. It is also noted as a venue for protests, a fact which derives both from its location plumb in the centre of London and its size.

THE NATIONAL GALLERY

Just adjoining the square is the National Gallery. There is currently a campaign running over plans to privatise a large number of National Gallery staff – click here for more details.

“CLEOPATRA’S NEEDLE”

This 3,500 year old obelisk, which stands on the embankment, has very little if anything to do with Cleopatra after whom it is colloquially named. This obelisk gets a brief mention in “Seven Ancient Wonders”, the first in Matthew Reilly‘s series of novels featuring Jack West, which currently runs to three (The others are The Six Sacred Stones and The Five Greatest Warriors) and may end up running to seven with a grand finale “The One …..”, although it’s sister obelisk in the heart of Paris is the particular object of interest in that story. 

THE ELEANOR CROSS

These were the monuments that Edward I had erected in honour of his first wife, one of which gave Charing Cross its name.

CONCLUSION

I hope that you have enjoyed this introduction to these two stations and some of the places interest close to them and will spread the word about this website.