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.
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:
SEGUE: ALDWYCH ON THE A-Z
To set the scene for the rest of this post I have some A-Z pages from just before the closure of Aldwych…
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:
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.
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.
This post will look at the past, present and possible future of London Underground’s newest line.
A COMPLEX HISTORY
The original plan for a new line had it being called the Fleet Line, but then someone decided that instead it should be named in honour of the Queen’s silver jubilee, hence Jubilee line. The line that opened in 1979 was made up of two very different sections, a brand spanking new section from Charing Cross to Baker Street, and then starting with the platforms it uses at Baker Street, taking over the Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo line, which had itself come into being to ease congestion on the inner parts of the Metropolitan line. The terminus at Charing Cross was deliberately created with platforms facing southeast, with an extension into South East London and West Kent being envisaged…
THE BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND MEN…
Two things prevented that eminently sensible scheme from ever coming to fruition. First, a desire for an extension of the Jubilee line to have a station at Canary Wharf, connecting with the Docklands Light Railway, and second a desire for a London Underground station to serve the Millennium Dome (now the O2 Arena), a particularly wasteful vanity project that its current incarnation cannot expunge. These two factors led to a change of plan, to an extension from Green Park, curving round via Canary Wharf and the Millennium Dome to Stratford, and the closure of the old Charing Cross terminus.
Always in this series I have speculated based on the actual set up as I look at it, and I will still be doing this, but I will also provide my version, tying in with my other speculations, of what an extension from Charing Cross should have looked like but for the obsessions of first the Conservative government of my youth with the Canary Wharf project (which in a delicious irony bankrupted its developers) and then the Labour government with building a white elephant to celebrate the Millennium.
One possibility would be a connection toCentral line tracks and running some services over these to Chelmsford. The other possibility is to go to Maryland, and run alongside main line tracks to Shenfield, thus increasing integration there. The fact is that this end of the Jubilee has been so badly mucked about that all possibilities are unsatsifying.
NORTH FROM STANMORE
A short extension northwards from Stanmore which includes a connection to the Orbital Railway scheme, a connection to my suggested northern extension of the Bakerloo and also to my plans for one part of the Northern line would complete as far as is possible the integration within the whole system of this line. My envisaged extension runs as follows: Caldecote, Aldenham, Garston, Leavesden, Abbots Langley, Bedmond and Hemel Hempstead.
WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN
The logical first port of call for an extension from the old Charing Cross terminus would have been Aldwych, and an interchange with the Piccadilly line. Having opted for the route to Maidstone for my Piccadilly line Aldwych plan, my suggestion for the rest of this extension would be: 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, Well Hill, Shoreham, Kemsing and Sevenoaks.
Time now for a journey along the current Jubilee line, starting at…
A vast network interchanges, including the Central line, London Overground, The Docklands Light Railway and local, national and international rail services. This part of London staged the 2012 Olympics, the stadium now being the home of West Ham United FC.
This station has an interchange with the Docklands Light Railway. This station has some interesting stuff on display related to the area’s history…
The station that was built to serve the Millennium Dome. You can catch a along the Thames from here if you wish. This is also one end of the most pointless gimmick in British public transport history, a cable car ride that goes to Royal Victoria on the Docklands Light Railway. At least if it went to Cutty Sark it would taking people somewhere worth visiting.
Interchange with the Docklands Light Railway, and one half of the reason why the Jubilee line was not extended in a sensible direction.
When this station was created it served two London Underground lines, the Jubilee and the East London, but the latter is now part of London Overground.
The first station we reach that offers no interchanges.
A mainline railway station from which trains serve various destinations in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, also served by the Northern line. Some mainline trains go north from here to Cannon Street and some go north-east to Waterloo East and Charing Cross. This used to be a Thameslink station buut is no longer so. Among other things, this station serves HMS Belfast, a floating museum on the Thames and the London Dungeon.
Right on the south bank of the Thames, this station has an interchange to Waterloo East. If coming from the East you might choose to alight here and walk along the river bank to reach the South Bank Centre.
This station has been covered in vast detail in my post on the Bakerloo line, to which I commend your attention.
For more on this station please visit my post on the District line.
Interchanges with the Victoriaand Piccadilly lines, albeit over substantial distances. The station is notable for leaf patterned tiling on the walls.
A station that has no surface building, as the area above it is occupied by the West 1 shopping centre. Bond Street will be one of the central London stops in Crossrail (the eastern end of the network is already operating as TFL Rail, from Liverpool Street to Shenfield).
This is where the older section of the Jubilee, which was taken over from the Bakerloo, begins. More about this station can be found in these posts:
This is the station for Lord’s Cricket Ground. Thomas Lord of Thirsk was the first Yorkshireman to have a significant impact on cricket history, and the current ground, which dates from 1814 was the third he created for the Marylebone Cricket Club. Although Lord’s is popularly referred to as the home of cricket, the first two test matches on English soil were staged at the Oval. It was in 1884 that Lord’s first staged a test-match. Two years later Arthur Shrewsbury dominated the second ever test match at Lord’s, relieving W G Grace of this then record score for England with 164 (Grace reclaimed his record in the very next match at the Oval). In 1990 Lords saw a truly astonishing game, in which Graham Gooch scored 333 in the first innings and 123 in the second for England, India avoided the follow-on due to Kapil Dev hitting four successive sixes with one of the most genuine of genuine number 11s at the other end, and England still had enough time to complete the victory.
The last station before the line rises to the surface.
Just before arriving at this station which has a cross-platform interchange with the Metropolitan line the Jubilee rises to the surface, emerging from the tunnel that was built in 1939 to accomodate what was then the Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo line. The undeground section of this route from Baker Street to here enabled the Metropolitan to stop serving the intermediate stations, and now, while Jubilee line trains stop everywhere, the next Metropolitan line stop is Wembley Park, while uniquely among current London Undeground lines the Metropolitan runs some fast services, whose next stop after Finchley Road is Harrow-on-the-Hill.
Interchanges with London Overground and Thameslink. This section of line provides the reverse of the experience of travelling between Hammersmith and Acton Town – there it is subsurface trains stopping everywhere and tube trains running fast, while here it is the Metropolitan line trains that run fast while the Jubilee line trains stop.
Officially not an interchange but this station is very close to Brondesbury, Brondesbury Park, Kilburn Park and within comfortable walking distance of Kilburn Park should you wish to to use the services available from these stations.
In spite of their names, this station is not massively close to Willesden Junction, although one could quite comfortably walk between the two if one wished. Willesden Green is unusual in that is simultaneously in fare zones 2 and 3. Works are planned for this area – see here.
The fourth of five intermediate stations at which Metropolitan line trains do not call although they go past it.
Nowadays a very minor station, but still the site of a very major depot (second only to Ruislip on the entire system).
The station for Wembley Stadium. This where the Jubilee and Metropolitan lines diverge, the Metropolitan heading on to its own bifurcation point at Harrow-on-the-Hill, while the Jubilee heads north to…
For the first time since Swiss Cottage a station at which only Jubilee line trains are seen.
There are many places that owe their eminence, and some cases their very existence to the development of railways of various kinds, but Queensbury takes this a stage further – it owes its name to the development of the railway. Said name was of course unimaginatively conceived as a partner for neighbouring Kingsbury.
The second to last station on our journey, and decidedly rural in appearance.
The end of the line. This station is accompanied by a huge number of sidings. This is a proper ‘interchange’ station, with bays for buses outside the front of the building. If you are up for a longish walk, Edgware is a couple of miles distant enabling a return along one branch of the Northern line.
I conclude this post with some map pictures that should help to tell the story of the Jubilee line…
The remaining pictures all come from the Diagrammatic History and aim to make the history od the line clear…
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!