The Bus We Loved: London’s Affiar With The Routemaster (Book Review)

INTRODUCTION

Given that I run this site it should be no surprise that the instant I imaged lot 450 in James and Sons’ July auction, which took place yesterday at the Maid’s Head Hotel in Norwich I was thinking in terms of buying it:

The original auction image for lot 450.
The original auction image for lot 450.

A MINI BIDDING WAR

What was a bit of surprise to me, given the usual fate of books at a James and Sons auction , was that on this occasion I was not alone in being interested – I was pushed up to £10 before the item was finally knocked down to me. There will be more about the auction in a forthcoming post on my blog.

THE BOOK

I read the book yesterday evening, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Having a special interest in public transport and being a cartophile into the bargain I cannot accept author Travis Elborough’s assessment of the Beck Map, but I agree with his overall view sufficiently to accept in terms of London vehicles/ rolling stock, the Routemaster stands alone as an icon, comfortably ahead of the standard black taxi (a Fairway, to give the rarely used make of the vehicle) and the classic 1938 tube stock (the last few were still in service on the Bakerloo line when I first lived in London, and there is a specimen which you can board at the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden).

What I particularly enjoyed about this book was that while obviously nostalgic (after all it was about a vehicle that is no longer used for its original purpose – I recently saw one being used for a wedding party in King’s Lynn, testament to its continuing appeal) it did not conjure up some mythical ‘golden age’.

This book is a beautifully presented, heartfelt and well written account of one of the best loved vehicles to appear anywhere in the world. I thoroughly and unreservedly recommend it and consider my £11.50 (including buyer’s premium) to have been well spent. Here are a few pictures to finish…

DSCN8069 DSCN8070 DSCN8071 DSCN8072

The Institute of Education

INTRODUCTION

This post features a London landmark which is particularly well served by public transport. There will be links to several other posts in appropriate places, and I have a couple of satellite maps to share as well.

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE

Although it was independent for a long time, the Institute of Education is now part of University College London’s (UCL) seemingly ever expanding empire (UCL owned/ run buildings nowadays occupy a significant proportion of Bloomsbury). More information about what is generally available at this particular site can be found here. Although I visited the institute a few times in connection with an autism research project for which I was a subject my main involvement with the place has been by way of the Marxism Festival which has made use of this building for all save a few of the years since I first attended it (in 1995, when I was on the team). Back then we used only three venues in the building for meetings, the Logan, Jeffery and Elvin halls. This year, when the institute was one of only two buildings used for the festival (the other bieng the Royal National Hotel, across Bedford Way) these venues were augmented as meeting rooms by Clarke Hall, Nunn Hall, and various rooms on the upper floors (including one set aside as a designated quiet space). For more about the most recent incarnation of this festival click here.

THE TRANSPORT CONNECTIONS

While the closest station by some margin is Russell Square on the Piccadilly line, Euston and Euston Square are both also within ten minutes walk (Northern, Victoria, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, London Overground and National Rail between them), with Warren Street (Northern and Victoria) and Goodge Street (Northern) also near at hand, and King’s Cross comfortably walkable (as I can confirm from experience). In addition to the above, Euston station has out front what is effectively a bus station, and buses travel from there to most parts of London.

TWO SATELLITE VIEWS

To end this post here are two satellite views obatined by use of google maps, first one showing the transport connections in the close vicinity of the building:

IOE and local stations.

And a closer view shwoing the building in more detail:

IOE Close Up

The institute numbers its floors (or levels as they call them), starting at 1 and ascending. Bedford Way adjoins level three, while the courtyard on the other side gives access to level four.

Hidden London

Check out the latest offering from the London Transport Museum…

London Transport Museum’s collection originated in the 1920s, when the London General Omnibus Company decided to preserve two Victorian horse buses and an early motorbus for future generations.

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Disabled campaigners set for battle with Chelsea’s celebrities over rail access | DisabledGo News and Blog

Disabled people and better transport on one side, rich NIMBYs on the other – one guess whose side I’m on! I am categorising this as a ‘stations’ post because i is about a potential future station.

A London disabled people’s organisation has backed plans to build a new accessible train station in the heart of fashionable Chelsea, despite opposition from a string of celebrity residents. Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea (ADKC) today (7 April) announced its support for a station to be built on King’s Road as part of the Crossrail 2 rail project that is set to connect rail networks in Surrey and Hertfordshire, with new track, tunnels and stations to be built through the heart of the capital. ADKC says a new Crossrail 2 station would “significantly improve” access for disabled people to King’s Road and nearby services – including some of the capital’s most important tourist destinations – as the nearest step-free tube station is more than two miles away. They say a new station would support the borough’s 1,900 wheelchair-users, and an estimated 7,100 people with walking difficulties, as well as disabled visitors who visit local attractions such as the Victoria and Albert

Source: Disabled campaigners set for battle with Chelsea’s celebrities over rail access | DisabledGo News and Blog

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Accessible Attractions

INTRODUCTION

This post is setting the scene for what will be a series of posts featuring attractions located close to stations which are fully accessible for disabled people.

INSPIRATION FROM A BLOG POST

I spotted a link on my twitter feed this morning to a post by Disabled Go entitled “Top 10 Accessible London Attractions”, which was the genesis of the idea for this series. The post gives outline details of the attraction and a link to details on accessibility. After due thought on how to share that information on this site (whether to do so was not even an issue) I came up with:

  1. Create a specific page called Attractions and category called “Accessible Attractions” (check)
  2. Create this introductory post (check)
  3. Create posts about each attraction, mentioning the closest stations and linking to other relevant posts on this site (will do in due course)

Thus, in due time a further ten posts will definitely be appearing, with more possible.

Crystal Palace

INTRODUCTION

This is a post about a place I visited many times in my youth, since I grew up not very far from it.

THE HISTORY

Crystal Palace was one of two stations opened to serve Crystal Palace (the other being Sydenham), when the building was moved from its original location in Hyde Park to Southeast London. The building itself was destroyed by a lightening strike in 1936, but the area still has much to commend it. In 2010 Crystal Palace station took a step up in importance when as part of the incorporation of what had been the East London Line into London Overground the New Cross Gate branch was extended south to West Croydon with a spur from Sydenham to Crystal Palace. More about the history of this station can be found here.

CRYSTAL PALACE PARK

The area where Crystal Palace once stood is now a public park, noted for its display of model dinosaurs (some of which are poorly posed as little was known of their lifestyles when they were constructed). There is a bust of Joseph Paxton, creator of Crystal Palace there as well. There are a variety of sources of further information available, including visitlondon, who have an excellent page featuring the image below, and the London Borough of Bromley’s official site, which has an excellent location map, also featured below.

The visitlondon pic.
The visitlondon pic.
The full location map, URL http://www.streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x=534454&y=170658&z=0&sv=SE19%2B2BB
The full location map, URL http://www.streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x=534454&y=170658&z=0&sv=SE19%2B2BB

 

Cropped to focus exclusively on the key area.
Cropped to focus exclusively on the key area.

A CRICKETING CONNECTION

In 1899 Dr W G Grace, having quarreled irretrievably with his native Gloucestershire, established the London County Cricket Club at Crystal Palace. Sadly, so entrenched were pre-existing prejudices that even with him running the show the new venture folded after a mere ten years, having had first class status only for the first five of those years.

WHERE I GREW UP IN LONDON

Earlier in the post I mentioned that I grew up not far from Crystal Palace. Here are a couple of pics obtained by way of google maps, based on my old home address that show just how close…

This shows the public transport option (and btw nine minutes for the walk down to the running track bus stop is a risible over estimate - five would be more accurate)
This shows the public transport option (and btw nine minutes for the walk down to the running track bus stop is a risible over estimate – five would be more accurate)
This one just shows the basic distance.
This one just shows the basic distance.

THE RAILWAY DETECTIVE

A fabulous series of books by Edward Marston, the first of the series which has the same title as the whole series features a dastardly plot to blow up Crystal Palace. More about this book and others in the series can be found here.

A MORE RECENT CONNECTION

To end this post, here is a picture of part of lot 602 in James and Sons‘ April Auction…

602-b

London’s Railway Network in 1897

INTRODUCTION

This post came about because yesterday when I was looking through my map collection I found a facsimile map of the London Railway Network in 1897.

WHY 1897?

Well, 1897 was the year of Queen Victoria’s (until recently Britain’s longest reigning monarch) diamond Jubilee. This map covers a much smaller area than today’s London Connections maps, and is geographical rather than schematic. One reason for this is that much of the outer suburbs of today’s London had not been built up at all (the area where I grew up, which is near the southern edge of this map, and in today’s zone 3, was developed between 1890 and 1905, so some of it would have been built up).

PICTURES

This is the 1897 Map
This is the 1897 Map
This by way of comparison is the 2015 version.
This by way of comparison is the 2015 version.

IF YOU LIKE THE 1897 MAP…

DSCN6938

Unfortunately Book Depository who offer free worldwide delivery do not have any copies in stock at the moment, but abebooks have a number of copies starting at £14.92 ($23.03).