I was inspired to create this post by reading a wonderful piece about a walk in Roman St Albans by Debbie Smyth on travelwithintent, of which much more later. Walking will bulk quite large throughout this post.
TWO VERY DIFFERENT STATIONS
St Albans station is a reasonably major station just beyond the official boundary of Greater London. Services to this station are fast and fairly frequent – a non-stop service from St Pancras takes approximately 20 minutes to reach St Albans.
St Albans Abbey station is at the end of a small branch line with not very frequent services (I have travelled it more than once). The other end of the line is at Watford Junction, and there is at present no through connection. Here are some maps for your assistance…
I have made mention of St Albans and its potentialities for greater public transport integration in a number of previous posts:
In “The Great Anomaly“, my post on the Metropolitan line, I mentioned it in explaining my idea for the using the Amersham and Watford branches (which would cease to be part of the Metropolitan) as part of an envisaged London Orbital Railway.
In my post on the Bakerloo Line I wrote about re-extending the Bakerloo to Watford Junction and then having it take over the St Albans Abbey shuttle service, with a through connection being established at Watford Junction.
In my post on theCentral Line I explained in detail my envisaged London Orbital Railway and its connections.
In “London Underground’s Worst Bodge Job“, my post on the Northern line, I suggested splitting the line into two halves, with the Edgware/ Charing Cross half being extended north from Edgware as to Luton Airport Parkway, following the mainline from Elstree & Borehamwood on, and south from Kennington to Gatwick Airport.
Tying all these together my future for St Albans’ public transport connections involves:
The Metropolitan’s current Watford scheme (extending to Watford Junction from Croxley, abandoning the current terminus) would be subsumed within the Orbital Railway, which would also make use of an adaptation of the plan outlined in Colne Valley Transit Proposal shown below:
In my version of the scheme, which sees it become part of the London Orbital Railway, the Met keeps its Chesham terminus, and the new scheme runs service through Amersham.
The Bakerloo takes over the St Albans Abbey branch, running services straight through to St Albans. As will be revealed later in this post I have an idea for a further possible extension in St Albans to increase integration.
The Northern line Edgware and Charing Cross branches become the nucleus of a line running from Gatwick Airport to Luton Airport Parkway.
TWO GREAT WALKS
WALK 1: ROMAN ST ALBANS (DEBBIE SMYTH)
I start this section with the walk Debbie Smyth talks about in “A Roamin’ Walk through Roman St Albans“. To encourage you to read and comment on Debbie’s splendid post I offer you two pictures and the opening paragraph…
St Alban’s is first recorded as a Celtic British Iron Age settlement, known as Verlamion. After the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43, it grew into Verlamium, the third largest town in Roman Britain…
The original of the above picture can be viewed here.
To view the full post (and I reiterate my encouragement of you to do so) click here.
WALK 2: ST ALBANS – WATFORD
(FROM COUNTRY WALKS AROUND LONDON)
This walk, which I did many years ago when I still lived in London is also well worth a look. I have the route map, a picture showing the whole walk, and individual shots of each double page it occupies…
THE VERULAMIUM MUSEUM
Mention has already been made of St Albans’ significance in Roman times, and this final section adds to that by pointing to the Verulamium Museum as an establishment comfortably walkable from both stations at which you can find out more about this history. Here are some maps showing the walking routes…
To view the original of this map and written instructions, click here.
To view the original of this map and written instructions, click here.
The plan that occurred to me based on these maps (and it would need to very sensitively devised if it were to go ahead) was for an extension from St Albans Abbey to a dedicated station for the Verulamium Museum and then a new terminus at St Albans for an interchange to the main station.
I hope that you have all enjoyed this look at St Albans, a fascinating and historic town on London’s doorstep.
This post features a hub station which is also close to numerous attractions.
Like all of London’s major railway stations this one has its origins in the mid 19th century. This map shows London Bridge and its connections in 1897…
In 1900 The City & South London Railway, the world’s first deep level ‘tube’ railway abandoned its badly sited King William Street terminus and opened three new stations at its northern end, London Bridge, Bank and Moorgate (for more about the subsequent history of this railway and what it became click here. In 1999, delayed and warped out of recognition by the greed and vanity of successive governments, the Jubilee line opened its long-awaited extension, one of the new stations on which was London Bridge. London Bridge was until recently part of the Thameslink route but is no longer so. These days there is an interchange available to Transport for London’s Riverboat Service as well.
There are two major attractions served by London Bridge. HMS Belfast is a historic warship, which for many years has been a floating museum (I visited several times as a child) and is now run under the aegis of the Imperial War Museum. The second attraction is the London Dungeon, which occupies what was once the notorious Clink Street Prison (from which the phrase ‘in the clink’ for ‘in prison’ comes) and styles itself London’s most frightening place.
London Bridge is ideally placed as a starting and/or finishing point for walks along the Thames. Westward as far as Waterloo is all good walking, while eastward lie Maritime Greenwich and, for the seriously energetic, Woolwich. This, from 100 Walks in Greater London, is a recommneded walk featuring some of what I have just mentioned…
Note that the Museum of the Moving Image has closed down since this book was produced.
AN AUCTION LOT
This, conveniently tallying with the theme of this post, is lot 604 in James and Sons‘ March Auction (two day sale, 30th and 31st March at Fakenham Racecourse – this item will be going under the hammer early in the second day)…
A FEW MAPS
I conclude this post with two map pictures, one from the Diagrammatic History and one from a modern London Connections Map…
Although this station is on the original section of the Piccadilly line which opened in 1906 Covent Garden did not open until 1907. The reason for this omission is that it is actually a mere 0.16 miles (0.26 km) from Leicester Square, the shortest distance between any two stations on the same line anywhere on the system (this distinction is there for situations such as Euston Square and Warren Street which are round the corner from one another). However, in spite of the proximity of Leicester Square, Covent Garden does have enough to offer to justify having its own station, as the rest of this post will endeavour to show. Here are some map pictures showing the crowded nature of the area:
MUSIC, MARKETS AND MAPS
Dealing with these in the order above, Covent Garden is home to the English National Opera. Covent Garden Market is very famous, and more information is available at their website. Finally in this section, just down the road from Covent Garden station is Stanford’s, the map dealers. If you are going to find a map anywhere, Stanford’s will have it.
Covent Garden is in the heart of Theatreland. In addition to the information in the website to which I have just linked, there is a walk (no 3 to be precise) in “100 Walks In Greater London” which takes in theatreland, and a century ago a map was produced combining London Underground and Theatreland…
THE LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM
I have, of course, saved Covent Garden’s most important attraction until last: it is here that you will find the London Transport Museum. This is an absolute treasure house for anyone interested in London Transport. You can explore old rolling stock, look at maps and much else besides. As this shows, the enthusiasm is mutual:
A LITERARY POSTSCRIPT: EDWARD MARSTON
It is a little tenuous but I cannot miss this opportunity to mention one of my favourite writers, Edward Marston. His series set in the Restoration period (a couple of centuries before London Underground – but his Railway Detective series needs only to move forward five more years to overlap with the beginning of London Undeground) features Christopher Redmayne as its leading character, and his errant brother Henry lives at Covent Garden.
This post provides a brief look at one the outlying stations and highlights a couple of features as well as pointing you to sources of further information.
Cheshunt is on one the oldest railway lines – The Northern and Eastern Railway opened its route between Stratford and Broxbourne in 1840, and Cheshunt got its station, by then under the aegis of the Eastern Counties Railway, in 1846. It is now a terminus of London Overground, and through services via Broxbourne on Abellio Greater Anglia also call at this station. More details about this station and it’s history can be found here.
ACTIVITIES AT CHESHUNT
My attention was drawn to Cheshunt by this picture which appeared on my twitter feed yesterday:
This set me thinking about the post I am now producing. Fortunately, as well as this endeavour by the skate park which I am pleased to support, Cheshunt is close to some prime walking territory. As this map shows, it is not a very long walk from the station to Hooks Marsh, and various walks involving the Lee Valley Regional Park:
For a walk highlighted by visitleevalley click here. Also, walk number 96 in “100 walks in Greater London” is this:
More information about this area can be found by visiting the local authority website and following the various links from there.
This post will cover the Northern line, and as such it is going to be somewhat convoluted.
ORDER DECREASES OVER TIME
This section of the post deals with the history of the Northern line. The title above, which makes reference to the laws of thermodynamics is apposite for this line which has certainly become more disordered over its history.
THE CITY AND SOUTH LONDON RAILWAY
On December 18th 1890 a new development in public transport history occurred. The development of electric traction allowed use to be made of the comparative ease of tunnelling through the blue clay that lies beneath London to build deep level railways, called tubes because of the tunnelling method used. The City and South London Railway, running from Stockwell to King William Street with intermediate stations at Oval, Kennington, Elephant & Castle and Borough.
In 1900 the King William Street terminus was abandoned in favour of new stations at London Bridge, Bank and Moorgate, while the line was also extended south to Clapham North and Clapham Common. In 1903 the line was extended to Old Street and Angel.
THE CHARING CROSS, EUSTON & HAMPSTEAD RAILWAY
This line was opened in 1907, ending the great tube building boom of 1905-7 which also saw the genesis of the Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines. It ran from Charing Cross to Golders Green with a branch to Highgate, the bifurcation point being Camden Town. The City and South London was extended to King’s Cross and Euston. Plans for an amalgamation were already developing.
THE NORTHERN CITY LINE
This was the original designation of what is now a section of mainline railway in tube tunnels running from Finsbury Park to Moorgate. This section of track opened in 1904, originally operated by the Metropolitan but a part of the Northern line for many years.
AMALGAMATION AND PLANS NOT COMPLETED
The 1920s saw a combination of the final amalgamation of the City & South London with the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead, with the latter being extended south to Kennington as part of the process. The complete line was extended to Morden, still the southern outpost of the system, in 1926. It was also in this period that the Northern line took over the Northen City section mentioned above, and that suburban branches of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) were subsumed, extending the northern termini to Mill Hill East, High Barnet and Edgware. As this map section makes clear, there were further plans that were never fulfilled.
At Edgware tunnels north of the station where the line was to have been extended are still visible. The last big change to affect the northern line was when the Northern City section became part of the mainline railway network in the 1970s.
Having looked at the past, it is time for a look to the future. Firstly, although I am normally a big fan of integration, I would split the northern line, so that there would be one line running from High Barnet to Morden via Bank, with a branch to Mill Hill East, and the other running from Edgware to Kennington via Charing Cross.
This line, comprising the Edgware and Charing Cross branches would be extended south from Kennington to East Croydon and on to Gatwick Airport, going via Brixton and Streatham among other places. Beyond Edgware, the line would go to Stonegrove, Newlands, Elstree High Street, Letchmore Heath, Aldenham and Garston, at which point it would share the Jubilee line route north to Hemel Hemsptead. There would also be a branch from Elstree High Street to Elstree and Borehamwood and then following the Thameslink route as far as Luton Airport Parkway.
HIGH BARNET – MORDEN
From High Barnet the line would go to Monken Hadley, Saffron Green, Well End, Shenley, Radlett and St Albans, possibly the running north to Luton Airport Parkway.
From Morden the line would extend south to Morden South, St Helier, North Cheam, Stoneleigh, Ewell West and Leatherhead, from where it would follow the existing route to Dorking.
Finally, the Mill Hill branch would be extended to Mill Hill Broadway, Edgware and Stanmore, from whence it could follow the Jubilee to Hemel Hempstead.
CONTINUED CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THE LINES
These lines while separate entities, would still of course be closely connected, with interchanges agt Kennington and Camden Town, and new connections at St Albans and Edgware, but the scope of their services would be greatly extended without the complications the arise from all the branching the currently exists. Also of course, the track connections at Kennington and Camden Town would be preserved for stock transfer purposes.
THE NORTHERN LINE TODAY
Our journey will run from Morden to High Barnet via Bank, with a diversion to Mill Hill East, before we bounce back to Waterloo and head north from there to Edgware. So with the itinerary set out we begin at…
The current southern outpost of the system, and the only station at the southern end of the Northern line to be open to the elements. The station building, like all of those we will meet until Clapham South, is faced in Portland Stone. Here is a picture of this station under construction for you…
Morden is also one of the two end points of the Wandle Trail (the other is Mitcham Junction station).
Leaving Morden, we enter the longest continuous section of tunnel on the system, 17.3 miles via Bank to Finchley Central. The first station we arrive it in this section of tunnel is South Wimbledon. The surface building has a curved frontage. A short walk in one direction takes one to Wimbledon Station and many potential routes. Another route from the station crosses Croydon Tramlink, emerging at Wimbledon Chase (the station name is reflective of the pernicious practice called hunting).
This station has a ‘three-eighths of an octagon’ type frontage. Near here is the Sava Centre, a Sainsbury’s hypermarket. It was at a pub close to this station that I watched the first part of the coverage of the 1997 General Election, the first in which I was eligible to vote.
The first of two stations to have Tooting in their name. Like South Wimbledon this station has a curved frontage. It is built on top of a subterranean lake. Not far from this station is Graveney School, which regularly supplies ball boys and girls for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, and which I attended between 1986 and 1993. Also close to this station is the Sree Krishna, a high quality Indian Restaurant.
My home station for 20 years. This station, like Balham to the north has two surface buildings, on opposite corners of a four-way junction. This is one of them:
Tooting Bec Road is flanked by Tooting Bec Common on one side and Tooting Graveney Common on the other. Within Tooting Graveney Common is an athletics track. Nestling just near the railway which splits Tooting Bec Common is Tooting Bec Lido, a supersize outdoor swimming pool. Beyond the bridge, the common is bounded at one end by Garrads Road, while Ambleside Avenue takes one to Streatham Station and Tooting Bec Gardens leads through to Streatham High Road, by way of St Leonards Church.
BAL-HAM: GATEWAY TO THE SOUTH
This is one of the stations designed by Charles Holden and opened in 1926 when the Northern line was extended south to Morden (the southernmost point on the system, a mere 10 miles south of the centre of London – by comparison, Amersham, the most far flung station on the current network is 27 miles out, and Brill, the furthest ever outpost of any line is 51 miles out).
I can provide pictures of both surface buildings and some blurb about the station itself in the form of two photos of stuff in the book Bright Underground Spaces…
Although there are only five stations south of Balham on the Northern line, it is also a main-line railway station, and connects southwards to a number of destinations via three distinct routes, through Streatham Common, Streatham Hill and Hackbridge.
I made extensive use of Balham at one time, when I lived at Parklands Road and worked in New Malden, and it was easier to take a longer walk than strictly necessary and get a train to Clapham Junction, where I could change to another train for New Malden than to do anything else.
Also, given the the majority of it was through commons, the walk though long was quite a pleasant one.
To finish, as usual I have some map pics…
The first of three stations whose name begins with Clapham. This station is the last Holden designed station to feature in this post.
The southern terminus of the line from 1900 to 1926. This station and its neighbour Clapham North are the last two stations to sport the island platforms (one regular-sized platform between two sets of tracks) that were a feature of the City & South London Railway, although a couple of other stations have legacies of such platforms.
The other island-platform station. Near this station is Mary Seacole House, named in honour of a Jamaican born nurse who helped soldiers during the Crimean War. This deeply unprepossessing tower block houses offices used by Lambeth Council.
The first interchange between this line and another underground line (Balham and Clapham North both have connections to main line railway stations and IMO South Wimbledon is close enough to Wimbledon that that should be shown as an interchange) in this case the Victoria. This is a cross-platform interchange, one of four on the Victoria line. A change here is often advisable even if it means one more change than is strictly necessary for the journey (e.g Tooting Bec – Stockwell – Victoria – South Kensington is a quicker journey than Tooting Bec – Embankment – South Kensington) due to the extra speed of travel on the Victoria line.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE GAS HOLDERS
I am treating these two stations together because they are at opposite ends of the Oval cricket ground. Oval was one of the original six stations of the City and South London Railway, the world’s first deep-level tube railway, which opened in 1890. Vauxhall only opened as an underground station in 1971, part of the newest section of the Victoria line, but is also a main-line railway station and would have opened in that capacity long before Oval.
Today is the Saturday of the Oval test, by tradition the last of the summer. At the moment things are not looking rosy for England, but more spectacular turnarounds have been achieved (bowled at for 15 in 1st dig and won by 155 runs a day and a half later – Hampshire v Warwickshire 1922, 523-4D in 1st dig and beaten by ten wickets two days later – Warwickshire v Lancashire 1982 to give but two examples). The Oval in it’s long and illustrious history has seen some of test cricket’s greatest moments:
1880: 1st test match on English soil – England won by five wickets, Billy Murdoch of Australia won a sovereign from ‘W G’ by topping his 152 in the first innings by a single run.
1882: the original ‘Ashes’ match – the term came from a joke obituary penned after this game by Reginald Shirley Brooks. Australia won by 7 runs, England needing a mere 85 to secure the victory were mown down by Fred Spofforth for 77.
1886: A triumph for England, with W G Grace running up 170, at the time the highest test score by an England batsman. Immediately before the fall of the first England wicket the scoreboard nicely indicated the difference in approach between Grace and his opening partner William Scotton (Notts): Batsman no 1: 134 Batsman no 2: 34
1902: Jessop’s Match – England needing 263 in the final innings were 48-5 and in the last-chance saloon with the tables being mopped when Jessop arrived at the crease. He scored 104 in 77 minutes, and so inspired the remainder of the English batsmen, that with those two cool Yorkshiremen, Hirst and Rhodes together at the death England sneaked home by one wicket.
1926: England’s first post World ward I Ashes win, secured by the batting of Sutcliffe (161) and Hobbs (100) and the bowling of young firebrand Larwood and old sage Rhodes – yes the very same Rhodes who was there at the death 24 years earlier.
1938: The biggest margin of victory in test history – England win by an innings and 579. Australia batted without opener Jack Fingleton and even more crucially no 3 Don Bradman in either innings (it was only confirmation that the latter would not be batting that induced England skipper Hammond to declare at 903-7)
1948: Donald Bradman’s farewell to test cricket – a single boundary would have guaranteed him a three figure batting average, but he failed to pick Eric Hollies’ googly, collecting a second-ball duck and finishing wit a final average of 99.94 – still almost 40 runs an innings better than the next best.
1953: England reclaim the Ashes they lost in 1934 with Denis Compton making the winning hit.
1968: A South-African born batsman scores a crucial 158, and then when it looks like England might be baulked by the weather secures a crucial breakthrough with the ball, exposing the Australian tail to the combination of Derek Underwood and a rain affected pitch. This as not sufficient to earn Basil D’Oliveira an immediate place on that winter’s tour of his native land, and the subsequent behaviour of the South African government when he is named as a replacement for Tom Cartwright (offically injured, unoffically unwilling to tour South Africa) sets off a chain of events that will leave South Africa in the sporting wilderness for almost quarter of a century.
1975: Australia 532-9D, England 191 – England in the mire … but a fighting effort all the way down the line in the second innings, Bob Woolmer leading the way with 149 sees England make 538 in the second innings and Australia have to settle for the draw (enough for them to win the series 1-0).
1985: England need only a draw to retain the Ashes, and a second-wicket stand of 351 between Graham Gooch (196) and David Gower (157) gives them a position of dominance they never relinquish, although a collapse, so typical of England in the 1980s and 90s sees that high-water mark of 371-1 turn into 464 all out. Australia’s final surrender is tame indeed, all out for 241 and 129 to lose by an innings and 94, with only Greg Ritchie’s 1st innings 64 worthy of any credit.
2005: For the second time in Oval history an innings of 158 by a South-African born batsman will be crucial to the outcome of the match, and unlike in 1968, the series. This innings would see Kevin Peter Pietersen, considered by many at the start of this match as there for a good time rather than a long time, finish the series as its leading run scorer.
2009: A brilliant combined bowling effort from Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann sees Australia all out for 160 after being 72-0 in their first innings, a debut century from Jonathan Trott knocks a few more nails into the coffin, and four more wickets for Swann in the second innings, backed by the other bowlers and by Andrew Flintoff’s last great moment in test cricket – the unassisted run out of Ricky Ponting (not accompanied by the verbal fireworks of Trent Bridge 2005 on this occasion!).
The above was all written without consulting books, but for those who wish to know more about test cricket at this iconic venue, there is a book dedicated to that subject by David Mortimer.
As usual I conclude this post with some map pics…
At this station the Northern line splits into two branches, one going via Charing Cross and the other via Bank, before a brief recombination at Camden Town and then a further bifurcation. If travelling from a point south of Kennington to a destination on the Charing Cross branch the advice is to get the first train and change at Kennington if necessary, since some Charing Cross branch services start from Kennington. Not far from this station is the Imperial War Museum.
ELEPHANT & CASTLE
An interchange with the Bakerloo line and also with mainline rail services. This area is being redeveloped.
One of only three stations on the Bank branch to have no interchanges. This station serves London’s most renowned food market.
Interchanges with the Jubilee line, in which context I wrote about it in detail, and mainline railways.
I covered this station in great detail when writing about the Central line.
This station has a connection to mainline railways (the Northern City section referred to earlier in this post). It serves Moorfields Eye Hospital.
This station has no interchanges. It possesses the longest escalators on the system (these claimed the record from Leicester Square, not Holborn as erroneously stated in this article). Shrewd observers may note that one of the platforms at this station is exceptionally wide. This is because until its fairly recent refurbishment, including the building of the escalators mentioned above, Angel still had an island platform, which was replaced as part of the work.
KINGS CROSS ST PANCRAS
I have written extensively about this station elsewhere on this site, so all I shall add is that the Northern line platforms at this station are the deepest of any at the station.
EUSTON AND EUSTON SQUARE
Euston Square, served nowadays by the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines is one of the 1863 originals, and as with Baker Street has been restored to look as it would have done when first opened. The City and South London Railway station at Euston was opened on May 12th 1907 and the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway on June 22nd 1907. These two together are now the Northern line, and occupy four platforms here – although widely separated – to change between the two branches you would be well advised to continue northwards to Camden Town where the interchange is cross-platform. The Victoria line station opened on December 1st 1968.
The southbound platform on the Bank branch of the Northern line is very wide at this station because when it was opened as the City and South London Railway station there were two tracks either side of an island platform (an arrangement still in evidence at Clapham Common and Clapham North), and the extra width of that platform comes from the reorginastion when this arrangement was deemed unsuitable for such a busy station.
INTRODUCING THE RAILWAY DETECTIVE
Euston was the first of London’s railway terminals to open, serving the London and North Western Railway, and it was on that route that Edward Marston’s greatest creation, The Railway Detective (a.k.a Inspector Robert Colbeck) investigated the case that first earned him that title (and introduced him to his future wife). These stories are set thus far) in the 1850s, before the opening of the Metropolitan Railway in 1863, but I could see Colbeck still being in business when that momentous event occurs. He would undoubtedly embrace the underground railway wholeheartedly, although his colleague Sergeant Leeming would take some persuading of its virtues!
CONCLUSION AND PICS
I hope that you have enjoyed this post and will be inspired to share it. Here are a couple of pictures to finish…
The Diagrammatic History.
This station is best known for having given its name to a game.
A double bifurcation point, as south of here the line splits in Bank and Charing Cross branches, while to the north it splits into High Barnet and Edgware branches. This is also the closest station to London Zoo.
For more on Camden Town, and a view of the area from a different perspective you can see what Ester makes of it on her Travelling Around The World blog by clicking here.
From 1907 until 1924 there was an intermediate station called South Kentish Town, which was closed due industrial action at Lots Road Power Station and in the event never re-opened. This station has an interchange with mainline railway services. The surface level platforms are spanned by a pedestrian bridge which means that direct access to streets on both sides of the station is possible.
This station is currently closed, officially expected to reopen in 2017.
One of the original northern termini of the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead. Close to this station is the point at which Dick Whittington legendarily turned back towards London and a career that would see him become Lord Mayor of London.
OF MUSIC AND MARX
A CURIOUS HISTORY
One stop south of Highgate is Archway, which opened in 1907 and was for some time the northern terminus of the line. One stop to the north is East Finchley, which was first served by Northern line trains in 1939, having previously been part of the LNER. Highgate, our subject, only opened in 1941 – something of an afterthought.
TO THE UNKNOWN GODDESS
This title comes from a CD case, and concerns a story that began almost 400 years ago and that touches on Highgate…
In 1619 a servant girl the household of the dramatist, librettist and poet Giulio Strozzi gave birth to an illegitimate child. The child, Barbara Strozzi, grew up in the household, becoming Giulio’s “figliuola elettiva” (elective daughter). Encouraged by Giulio she developed considerable musical talents and became known in her own lifetime as a composer and performer.
She is not so well known these days, but it was at Highgate that I first heard her music. The performance featured the same four people as the CD (Catherine Bott, Paula Chateauneuf, Timothy Roberts and Frances Kelly), which I bought that very evening.
A FAMOUS GRAVE
To be fair, quite a few well known people are buried in Highgate Cemetery, but I am confining myself to one. Karl Marx was buried there in 1883, and Marxism 2015, a five-day political event begins in London tomorrow afternoon. I will be there and I intend to put up regular blog posts and tweet about being at the event – watch this space. For much more detail and a different perspective on Highgate Cemetery I recommend this post onalicevstheworld.
One of three stations with Finchley in its name. This is also the last station on this section of the line to be in tunnel.
This station is at surface level, and looks exactly like a rural railway station, not least because that is how it (and the rest of this section of the line on to High Barnet) started life, as a part of the London & North Eastern Railway’s network of local services. Thus we have the paradoxical situation whereby the oldest stations on the line (dating from 1872) have been served for less long by this line than ay of the others. Although we will be following the mainline to High Barnet first we have a little diversion to make to…
MILL HILL EAST
Although this is a very minor spur of track it does include one system-wide record holder. The Dollis Brook Viaduct on this branch is 60 feet above the surface, the highest point of elevation above ground anywhere on the system. Mill Hill East station is itself elevated, though not sufficiently so to warrant up escalators from the street as seen at Alperton.
The third and last of the Finchleys.
WOODSIDE PARK and TOTTERIDGE & WHETSTONE
These two stations are attractive, with platforms in the style of the LNER with whom they started life.
The end of the line. There is open country beyond the station.
Having finished the Bank and High Barnet branches, it is time to take on the Charing Cross and Edgware branches, and of course we have already covered Kennington. I have written in great detail about Waterloo in my posts on the Bakerloo and Jubilee lines.
I wrote in detail about this station in my post on the District line. However a couple of Northern line specific things deserve mention here. Firstly, there are floodgates on the the Northern line platforms because the Thames is directly overhead. Second, this station is further below sea-level than any other on the system, 67 feet to be precise. Third and final due to the fact that the southbound platform uses what was a terminal loop in the days of the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead there is famously a gap between the platform edge and the trains, hence “Mind The Gap”.
This station was originally called Strand, and was not recognized as having an interchange with Charing Cross main line station. Both Charing Cross and its close neighbour Embankment have been through many name changes down the years. The Bakerloo line platforms that now have the name Charing Cross were originally opened as Trafalgar Square. It was the opening of the Jubilee line in 1979 with it’s southern terminus at Charing Cross that led to these two stations being shown as an interchange, because both did have an interchange to the Jubilee line, although the interchange from the Northern to the Bakerloo at this station would not have been advisable in any circumstance – Embankment and Waterloo are both much better options. Charing Cross Station is the centre of the 10KM (6 Miles) radius circle within which drivers of black cabs are required to know everything. This is called “The Knowledge”, a designation which may come from a quote from the world’s most famous consulting detective, in The Adventure of the Red Headed League, when he tells Watson “It is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of London”. For more specific detail about Charing Cross and its neighbour Embankment check out this post.
Until the refurbishment of Angel this station possessed the longest escalators on the system at 161 feet in length. It serves an area of London known both for its Chinese Restaurants and for its Theatres – one designation for this part of London is Theatreland. Additonally, for map lovers, Stanford’s, the greatest of all map shops, is just down the road from this station. There is an interchange to the Piccadilly line here.
TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD
An interchange to the Central line, and from 2017 (if the project is completed on schedule, which in British public transport terms is a big if) Crossrail. This postcard shows the current layout of the station:
Tottenham Court Road is in London’s busiest shopping district. Unique among the shops to be found here is Bookmarks. Also, very close to this station is the British Museum. Recent Developments at this station are covered in this piece from Time Out.
A very long and convoluted interchange with the Victoria line is possible here – although one stop beyond, to Euston would surely be better. This station is even closer to UCL than Goodge Street, while a stroll round the corner takes one to Euston Square, and the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. Also, like the previous two stations this one is within eyesight of a very distinctive tower, in its case the BT Tower.
ON TO THE EDGWARE BRANCH
Euston and Camden Town have already been covered while talking about the Bank branch, so it is time to move on to…
This station was at one time my aunt’s local station. Access to the surface is provided by lifts here, as also at the next two stations.
This station opened in 1907 as part of the original section of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway, which was subsequently amalgamated with the City and South London Railway to form the Northern line. It is located on the Edgware branch, two stops beyond the bifurcation point of Camden Town and one stop south of Hampstead. Like its northerly neighbour it is very deep, and accessible from the street only by lift or staircase. Although it is shown on the maps as offering no interchanges, Gospel Oak on London Overground is walkable should one ever have reason to make such a change.
MURDER ON THE UNDERGROUND
This is the title of a book by 1930s crime writer Mavis Doriel Hay. The murder itself takes place on the stairs mentioned above, and all the action is set around this section of the northern line. Having just read the book I heartily recommend at and am looking forward to reading the other book of hers I have located at one of thelibraries I patronise, Murder on the Cherwell, set in another place I have a more than passing acquaintance with, Oxford.
This is the deepest station anywhere on the system, 192 feet below the surface. Just north of here is the deepest point on the network, 221 feet below the surface of Hampstead Heath. This gives the Northern line three records relating to the station’s vertical location – deepest below sea level, deepest below surface and highest above surface. The remaining record, highest above sea level is held by Amersham, 500 feet up in the Chilterns. Access the the surface is gained by lifts, or if you are up for major climb or are seriously claustrophobic by way of 350 stairs.
A station to have been called either North End or Bull & Bush was excavated at platform level but never built, meaning that the next station we reach is…
Given the record held by Hampstead, and the supplementary record held by a sport just north of Hampstead towards this station, you might expect that this station would still be in tunnel, but it is actually at surface level. The principal depot for the Northern line is located at this station.
Brent Cross is home to a major shopping centre. For this part of the route the line is elevated above surface level giving rise to the infrequent sight of a viaduct with the London Underground logo on the side.
Although this station is correctly shown as having no interchanges, it is only a 13-minute walk from Hendon Thameslink Station. This station is in two fare zones, 3 and 4. This is not very frequent, although the Northern line boasts several examples: South Wimbledon (3 and 4), Clapham South (2 and 3), Elephant & Castle (1 and 2), Archway (2 and 3) and here. Hendon was the birthplace of sporting legend (5,000 test runs for England and FA Cup Winners medal with Arsenal) Denis Compton.
This station is located near Hendon Aerodrome, which now houses the RAF Museum.
The second last station on our journey, and not notable in any way.
Just beyond this station two tunnel openings can be seen, all that currently remains of plans for an extension to Elstree and Aldenham. Like Uxbridge and Stanmore among other London Underground termini this has bus stands directly outside the station building.
HISTORY AND MODERN CONNECTIONS IN MAP FORM
These final maps show the whole line, first its history, and then its modern day connections…
For mainstream non-specialist books I always direct people to book depository because they do free worldwide delivery. The books that I have mentioned in this post to which this applies are:
I have only used two maps in this piece. One of those, the modern London Connections Map, which has Southeast England’s railways on its reverse side, is obtainable free of charge at a wide variety of locations (I picked mine up at King’s Lynn bus station). The other, the Diagrammatic History, can be obtained from Stanford’s, the map specialists based in Covent Garden, very close to the London Transport Museum.
My thanks and congratulations to those of you who have made it all the way through this long and convoluted post. I hope consider ti worthwhile, and will spread the word both about this post and about the website.