The full title of the book is “The Subterranean Railway: How The London Underground was Built and How it Changed the City Forever”, and the author is Christian Wolmar.
A COMPREHENSIVE ACCOUNT
As well as providing a superb account of the development of London Underground, and the effect that this had on the city, Wolmar’s book also gives due coverage the alternative railway ideas that were proposed (and in the case of the atmospheric railway at Crystal Palace actually built) around the same time.
All the good stories are there, from Charles Pearson, Edward Watkin and Robert Selbie through Charles Tyson Yerkes (who in the first decade of the 20th century raised a cool £18 million for tube building projects) and on to the days of public ownership. There are also some excellent illustrations.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend to anyone with an interest in public transport.
GETTING HOLD OF THE BOOK
As so often, I obtained my copy from the library, but for those who prefer buying to borrowing it is available via Book Depository for £9.98 with free worldwide delivery
In my post on the District line, originally published on aspiblog, I presented a scheme that would see the western end of the line turned into a giant loop, incorporating two suburban railway branches which currently serve Windsor & Eton. I deferred covering my plans for the remaining branches other than indicating that they would not remain part of the District. I am now going to fill in that gap.
LONDON OVERGROUND AND FURTHER INTEGRATION OF THE SYSTEM
TheMetropolitan and District lines and their spin offs such as the Hammersmith and City line were built to the same specifications as main line railways, and I make use of this fact. Put simply, this section of the district would become the nucleus of a new section of London Overground. Kensington Olympia is already part of London Overground, and I would run trains on this branch, which might approach under my scheme from either Wimbledon or Edgeware Road through by way of the existing Willesden Junction connection to Watford Junction and a connection to my envisaged London Orbital Railway, outlined in this post. Edgware Road serves little purpose as a terminus station, and I would do one of two things to improve this situation:
Project this route over existing tracks to Aldgate East, reopen the old track link from Aldgate East to Shadwell, connecting to that section of London Overground (formerly the East London Line).
A more modest extension along the north side of the Circle line, followed by establishing a track connection to the Thameslink platforms at Farringdon, then utilising the currently unused former Thameslink platforms at Barbican and Moorgate, giving this part of the network a connection to the city.
That leaves the Wimbledon spur to attend to. A southern extension would provide this with a connection to the orbital mentioned earlier in this piece, and a further southern extension beyond the orbital would afford yet further connections to main line rail services. The full extension would run as follows from Wimbledon: Bushey Mead, Motspur Park, Malden Manor, Tolworth, Hook (connection to the orbital), Claygate, Oxshott, Pachesham Park, Leatherhead, Boxhill & Westhumble and Dorking.
The Dorking terminus is not just because from Leatherhead the line follows an existing route. It also opens up some extra connections – southwards to Horsham, and also a very short walk enables one to get to Dorking Deepdene station and a line that runs from Reading to Redhill.
SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THESE ROUTES
I am going to start my metaphorical journey at…
Aside from the connections already mentioned, Dorking has a place in cricket history as the birthplace of Harry Jupp. Jupp was an adhesive (in more ways than one as we shall see) opening batsman, who with designated gloveman Edward Pooley still confined in a New Zealand prison after a fracas there, kept wicket for England in the first ever Test Match in March 1877. Once playing in a benefit game in his home town he was bowled early on and coolly replaced the bails. On being asked “ain’t you going Juppy?”, he said “No, not at Dorking”. This line of Jupp’s was subsequently used as the title of a radio programme about cricket history.
BOXHILL AND WESTHUMBLE
This station is the start and end point for a splendid walk on which many moons I go I led a walking group of which I was part. The website www.walkingclub.org.uk has a Box Hill walk which you can view here.
As well as offering interchanges to mainline railways and the Croydon Tramlink, Wimbledon has much to offer in its own right. Wimbledon Common, home of the Wombles is here. It is a great place to walk around, and for those who like to follow a set route, walk 81 in 100 Walks In Greater London starts at Wimbledon Station and takes you across Wimbledon Common and adjoining Putney Heath to finish at East Putney Station…
The book can be bought from Book Depository (free worldwide delivery) for £8.99
This is the local station for the most famous tennis championships in the world, covered in detail in this post. For those who want to look ahead, the Wimbledon 2016 website is already available for viewing.
One of various points from which you can watch the Boat Race (second oldest of the “varsity” sports contests – the first varsity cricket match was played in 1827, two years before the first boat race). Also the home station for Fulham FC, who number Richard Osman of Pointless fame among their fans.
Under previous plans for a Hackney-Chelsea line, District line trains would have terminated here. In my scheme, this station would be an interchange between London Overground and the Woking-Chelmsford line (my extended version of the Hackney-Chelsea as described here).
The London Overground route from Clapham Junction to Kensington Olympia has a stop here, so this would be a link between the existing London Overground network and the extensions thereof proposed in this post.
Although at the moment there is no London Overground station at Earls Court, this would change in my scheme, to provide interchange with the District and Piccadillylines. While pretty much everything else to be said about Earls Court is contained within my previous post “Triangle Sidings“, I include here a link to the website of the Save Earls Court campaign, who are fighting to prevent demolition of the historic exhibition centre.
Beyond Earls Court our route diverges, one branch heading north via Kensington Olympia to Watford Junction and the northern and western parts of my planned Orbital Railway, while the other goes to Edgware Road, and thence on to Baker Street, Great Portland Street and one of two possible developments beyond there.
It is that latter section that I am going to concentrate on next, starting with…
HIGH STREET KENSINGTON
This station is now directly below a major shopping centre, and therefore has no surface level building.
NOTTING HILL GATE
This station has been the subject of a full length blog post, which I reproduce below…
A CARNIVAL, A THEATRE AND A FILM
The District and Circle line station at Notting Hill Gate was opened in 1868. In 1900 The Central London Railway, forerunner of today’s Central line, opened between Shepherd’s Bush and Bank, with a station at Notting Hill Gate. It was not until 1959 that the two stations were officially linked. There is no surface building at all, merely a staircase leading down from each side of the main road to an underground ticket hall. The District and Circle line platforms still have their original roof, a remarkable arched canopy.
Probably these days this film is what most people think about when this area comes up. I did enjoy it the one time I watched it, but I am far from being convinced that it actually did the area any favours.
Taking it’s name from the pub above which you can find it, The Gate Theatre has staged some remarkable productions in its tight confines. I remember seeing several plays by Lope De Vega performed there.
THE NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL
Before the making of the film, this was what the area was most widely known for – London’s biggest annual street festival. Unfortunately beyond mentioning it I can say little of it because I never attended since neither vast crowds nor continuous loud noise have ever appealed to me.
ODDS AND ENDS
Before displaying a couple of pictures, a little more about the area. The layout and some of the names of the streets in this part of London reflect the fact that a racecourse was planned for the area but the developers went bankrupt. Now for those pictures…
PADDINGTON (PRAED STREET)
Here is some detailed information about this station. I am going to top it up with this which has previously appeared in the piece about the District Line but bears repeating because it is quite immportant.
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.
The current terminus of this branch of the District, but under my scheme will be an ordinary through station.
Lots of detail about this station:
HISTORY, HORROR AND DETECTIVES
Baker Street was one of the original stations that opened in 1863 as The Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground public transport system, on January the 10th 1863. Those platforms, two of 10 at that station (the most on the entire system) to be served by underground trains, are still in service today, and have been restored to look as they would have done when first opened. Ironically, they are no longer served by the Metropolitan line, which uses two terminal and two through platforms just to the north of the originals, its tracks joining those of the Hammersmith and City and Circle lines just east of Baker Street. By way of explanation I turn to Douglas Rose’s London Underground: A Diagrammatic History
The other two lines that serve this station are the Bakerloo and Jubilee lines. Baker Street is a division point between the old and new Jubilee lines – south of Baker Street is all new track, northwards old, dating from 1939, when it was opened as a branch of the Bakerloo, taking some of the strain of the Metropolitan by taking over services to Stanmore and assuming sole responsibility for intermediate stops between Baker Street and Finchley Road, and also between Finchley Road and Wembley Park. When the Jubilee opened in 1979 it comprised the old Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo and three stations south of Baker Street.
Reverting temporarily to the Metropolitan, those four platforms at Baker Street, from which trains go to a variety of destinations developed from what started as a single track branch going only as far as Swiss Cottage. It grew out of all recognition during the tenure of Edward Watkin, who saw the Metropolitan as a crucial link in his plan for a railway system to link his three favourite cities, London, Paris and Manchester. At one time, as my next picture shows, the Metropolitan went far beyond it’s current reach…
Baker Street is home to Madame Tussaud’s which merits a visit. The Planetarium that used to be next door to Madame Tussaud’s has been relocated to Greenwich while the old Planetarium building is now part of Madame Tussaud’s.
Of course, no post about Baker Street would be complete without something sbout it’s most famous ever resident, Mr Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective.
I am an avid fan of the great detective, having read all the original stories and many modern stories that feature the great detective. As well as owning a respectable collection of my own, I regularly borrow books about this subject from the libraries that I use…
To end this post, along with my customary hopes that you have enjoyed it and that you will share it, a couple more maps, first a facsimile of the original Beck map of 1933 and then for comparison a facsimile of the 1926 Underground Map…
The current Farringdon station opened in 1865, when the Metropolitan Railway (as it then was) expanded eastward for the first time from the old terminus just to the south of here at Farringdon Street (it had already reached west to Hammersmtih in 1864). As the colours of the heading indicate it is currently served by the Hammersmith and City, Circle and Metropolitan lines. There is also an overground station served by Thameslink.
I have a couple of shots from an old A-Z to show the area at surface level…
For three months in 1997 I worked (for experience plus travel expenses) at Interpretations, based in Bakers Yard, the near the junction of Farringdon Road and Rosebery Avenue, the first job I ever had.
Also, tying in with two of my interests (real ale and English literature), just to the north of this junction is a pub called the Betsey Trotwood, which I would recommend anyone to visit.
Just south of here is City Thameslink, a train station with exceptionally long platforms, owing to the fact that it was created by amalgamating two old stations, Holborn Viaduct and Ludgate Hill into one.
I end but setting this historic station in context with the aid of the Diagrammatic History…
This is the point at which the other version of my scheme would part ways with the Hammersmith and City, making use of an old track link to Shadwell, and a link up to that section of London Overground.
An interchange between London Overground and the Docklands Light Railway.
This is the deepest station to have been built using the old cut-and-cover method of construction, 60 feet below the surface. The tunnel connecting this station to Rotherhithe was originally opened as a pedestrian tunnel. This project was designed by Marc Isambard Brunel, and when the chief engineer died and he needed to find a quick replacement he gave his son the job. Isambard Kingdom Brunel proved more than adequate for the task in hand, and an illustrious engineering career was launched.
A new station on a very old section of track, this station was created to provide an interchange between the Jubilee line and what was then the East London line.
This in the old days of the East London line used by a bifurcation point, but is now a trifurcation point, with lines going to New Cross, West Croydon & Crystal Palace (via New Cross Gate, the other original terminus) and Clapham Junction.
At this point we will revert to our other section beyond Earls Court, that going via Kensington Olympia.
This is two stations in one, with a low level station featuring the Bakerloo line and London Overground (the branch we will be joining), and a high level station featuring the original Silverlink Metro line that became the nucleus of London Overground, which started life as a Richmond-North Woolwich service and is now Richmond – Stratford, with the section beyond Stratford incorporated into the Docklands Light Railway.
HARROW AND WEALDSTONE
The current northern terminus of the Bakerloo Line.
The first stop for long-distance trains from London Euston.
AN EXTRA SPECULATION
Astute observers who have reached this point may have noted that my suggested extension along the north side of the Circle makes use that lines platforms at Liverpool Street, and that there are actually some London Overground services that currently depart from Liverpool Street. Although it would require much ore work, which is why I have not listed it as something for current consideration, I could envisage the creation of a track link from Moorgate to a point just beyond Liverpool Street on that section of London Overground, and through running of services to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town.
This is the first time I have produced an entirely speculative post, as post to including a speculative section in a post about a current line. Whether it has worked or not is up to you to decide, but I have enjoyed creating it.