Chingford and Loughton

INTRODUCTION

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

CONTRASTING HISTORIES

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

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

Loughton Station

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

Chingford
Loughton

WHY THE JUXTAPOSITION?

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

Chingford - Loughton

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

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

Epping Forest

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

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

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

MORE MAPS

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

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

AFTERWORD – ON FARE ZONES

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

The Subterranean Railway: Book Review

INTRODUCTION

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.

This proposed idea of a railway running above people's  heads and along the sides of buildings did not get beyond the drawing board.
This proposed idea of a railway running above people’s heads and along the sides of buildings did not get beyond the drawing board.
The atmospheric railway at Crystal Palace.
The atmospheric railway at Crystal Palace.
An early station.
An early station.
The Greathead shield, used for the making of deep-level tube lines.
The Greathead shield, used for the making of deep-level tube lines.

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Piccadilly Circus, above and below ground.
Piccadilly Circus, above and below ground.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend to anyone with an interest in public transport.

GETTING HOLD OF THE BOOK

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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

Mr Beck’s Underground Map

INTRODUCTION

I recently put up a post about the book “No Need to Ask!”, which deals with the development of the London Underground map before Henry C Beck. Today I deal with the the other half of the story of London Underground’s maps, as told in “Mr Beck’s Underground Map”.

THE PROBLEM WITH STANDARD MAPS

This picture from the back of “Mr Beck’s Underground Map” illustrates one of the problems that showing London Underground on a geographical map has – the vast spread of the system which means that any such map has to be huge for the central area not to be hopelessly compressed…

Since some distortion is therefore virtually inevitable in order for the central area of the map to be usable, the question then arises of how to make the map work.

THE BIRTH OF A LEGEND

Henry C Beck, an engineer and very skilled draftsman, decided that it was time to abandon any pretence of geographical mapping for London Underground. Here is a preliminary sketch…

Although Mr Beck’s employers did not think the public would accept anything so radical, he kept on at them until they agreed to the experiment, using this map…

 

The original Beck Map (postcard - not featured in the book).
The original Beck Map (postcard)

Not for the first or last time, public support for something radical had been grossly underestimated, and the map was a big hit almost from the moment it first appeared.

THE CHANGING SHAPE OF THE MAP

As well as extensions, new lines and on occasion cut backs, methods of representing things changed down the years, as this series of pictures shows…

An early effort to further emphasize the central area by thickening the lines there (from 1935)
An early effort to further emphasize the central area by thickening the lines there (from 1935)
Metropolitan and District both green, indicating their links and their separateness from the rest of the system.
Metropolitan and District both green, indicating their links and their separateness from the rest of the system.
An experiment with 60 degree angles.
An experiment with 60 degree angles.
At the other extreme, using angles of 45 and 90 degrees only.
At the other extreme, using angles of 45 and 90 degrees only.

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The appearance of the Circle line for the first time.
The appearance of the Circle line for the first time.
Minimising the use of diagonlas.
Minimising the use of diagonlas.

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A speculative 1994 journey planner showing some potential extensions (the Jubilee and East London line extensions have happened, with the latter being subsumed into London Overground).
A speculative 1994 journey planner showing some potential extensions (the Jubilee and East London line extensions have happened, with the latter being subsumed into London Overground).

THE BECK MAP GOES INTERNATIONAL

Schematic diagrams are now used worldwide to represent public transport systems. This was Mr Beck’s own effort with the Paris Metro (circa 1946)…

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AND FINALLY

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Mr Beck’s Underground Map can be obtained from the London Transport Museum for £12.95.

The London Underground Map Before Mr Beck

INTRODUCTION

As well as various presents I received a significant amount of cash this Christmas, and one of the things (there is still one more to come) that I bought with this cash was the book “No Need to Ask!”, which I ordered from Stanford’s. This can be thought of as a prequel to “Mr Beck’s Underground Map“, which tells the story of the schematic diagram the came to dominate the public transport world. “No Need to Ask!” (the title comes from the PR campaign around one of the earliest of the maps, which featured a poster of policeman pointing at the map and the caption “no need to ask a p’liceman”.

A TREASURE TROVE OF MAPS

As you might imagine, 68 of years of history and development (1863-1931, when Mr Beck unveiled his diagram) provided a lot of opportunities for map makers. Having set the scene, save for a few final words at the end the rest of this post is going to consist of pictures to give you a feel of the book.

This map dates from 1867.
This map dates from 1867.
This was the District Railway's first effort, in 1874.
This was the District Railway’s first effort, in 1874.
The 1879 update.
The 1879 update.
This late 1890s map shows some of the elements of the later schematic diagrams - it shows only the route itself.
This late 1890s map shows some of the elements of the later schematic diagrams – it shows only the route itself.

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This early 1920s effort also has hints of the schematic about it.
This early 1920s effort also has hints of the schematic about it.
A well-known map - one of the originals is on display at the London Transport Museum.
A well-known map – one of the originals is on display at the London Transport Museum.
The map on its own.
The map on its own.

These maps all give particular emphasis to the Metropolitan and/or District lines – the next set I offer you changes the focus…

The opening of this line was historic in a way - it was a further six decades before another new London Underground line, the Victoria, opened.
The opening of this line was historic in a way – it was a further six decades before another new London Underground line, the Victoria, opened.

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An early example of sponsorship.
An early example of sponsorship. This one had extra appeal for me because of the many visits I have made to the RHS gardens at Wisley.

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A curio.
A curio.

We end this section with a juxtaposition of the last pre-Beck effort, a pure geographical effort of similar vintage and the original Beck diagram…

The 1931 last pre-Beck effort
The 1931 last pre-Beck effort
A full geographical map from the early 1930s.
A full geographical map from the early 1930s.
The original Beck Map (postcard - not featured in the book).
The original Beck Map (postcard – not featured in the book).

GETTING HOLD OF THE BOOK

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The book can be ordered from Stanfords for £12.95. Delivery charges and times vary according to where in the world you are located – further details available on website.

 

The Jubilee Line

INTRODUCTION

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.

THE FUTURE

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.

FROM STRATFORD

One possibility would be a connection to Central 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.

THE PRESENT

Time now for a journey along the current Jubilee line, starting at…

STRATFORD

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.

WEST HAM

Interchanges with the District and Hammersmith & City lines, London Overground, the Docklands Light Railway and mainline railways.

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CANNING TOWN

This station has an interchange with the Docklands Light Railway. This station has some interesting stuff on display related to the area’s history…

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NORTH GREENWICH

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.

CANARY WHARF

Interchange with the Docklands Light Railway, and one half of the reason why the Jubilee line was not extended in a sensible direction.

CANADA WATER

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.

BERMONDSEY

The first station we reach that offers no interchanges.

LONDON BRIDGE

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.

SOUTHWARK

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.

WATERLOO

This station has been covered in vast detail in my post on the Bakerloo line, to which I commend your attention.

WESTMINSTER

For more on this station please visit my post on the District line.

GREEN PARK

Interchanges with the Victoria and Piccadilly lines, albeit over substantial distances. The station is  notable for leaf patterned tiling on the walls.

BOND STREET

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).

BAKER STREET

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:

The Hammersmith and City Line

The Great Anomaly

Plans for Edgware Road-Wimbledon/ Kensington Olympia

The Bakerloo line

While we also have a post covering Baker Street’s most famous ever resident.

ST JOHNS WOOD

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.

SWISS COTTAGE

The last station before the line rises to the surface.

FINCHLEY ROAD

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.

WEST HAMPSTEAD

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.

KILBURN

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.

WILLESDEN GREEN

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.

DOLLIS HILL

The fourth of five intermediate stations at which Metropolitan line trains do not call although they go past it.

NEASDEN

Nowadays a very minor station, but still the site of a very major depot (second only to Ruislip on the entire system).

WEMBLEY PARK

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…

KINGSBURY

For the first time since Swiss Cottage a station at which only Jubilee line trains are seen.

QUEENSBURY

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.

CANONS PARK

The second to last station on our journey, and decidedly rural in appearance.

STANMORE

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.

MAPS

I conclude this post with some map pictures that should help to tell the story of the Jubilee line…

The Jubilee line and its current connections.
The Jubilee line and its current connections.
A geographical look at the territory covered by the Jubilee line (when this map was mad, the Stratford extension was under construction).
A geographical look at the territory covered by the Jubilee line (when this map was mad, the Stratford extension was under construction).

The remaining pictures all come from the Diagrammatic History and aim to make the history od the line clear…

The Baker Street element - note that although not used for passenger services the Bakerloo line still has a track link to the Jubilee, sometimes used for rolling stock transfer.
The Baker Street element – note that although not used for passenger services the Bakerloo line still has a track link to the Jubilee, sometimes used for rolling stock transfer.
The Wembley Park scenario.
The Wembley Park scenario.
The explanation for this part of the Jubilee line.
The explanation for this part of the Jubilee line.

 

An Appropriately Themed Badge

INTRODUCTION

This is the first of two posts about items that relate to the work of this site that I got hold of at my employers auction yesterday.

IMAGING AND IDENTIFYING

As is usually the case with the stuff that I purchase at auction I spotted this item while imaging it, and put it down as one to bid for as soon as the auction was live. Here is the image that everyone saw of the item, which will make its relevance obvious…

577

I duly put in a commssion bid for this badge in the full expectation of getting it (I have to bid this way because on the auction day I am unlikely to be able to bid on my own account), which duly happened. It was well displayed on the day in an exhibition case…

Lot 577 for Social Media

I tried several methods of imaging the item at home, as shown below.

The first attempt, at imaging it at home.
The first attempt, at imaging it at home.
Having seen the effect that any artificial light had on the image I did the remaining two outside on my balcony .
Having seen the effect that any artificial light had on the image I did the remaining two outside on my balcony .
This one was my personal favourite - what do you think?
This one was my personal favourite – what do you think?

SPECULATIONS ON MAKING THE BADGE USEFUL

My first thoughts about whether I could actually turn this into something that I could use ran along the lines of possibily having it re-engraved with the address of this website, but I am now thinking that if I do anything to it it would be to have the website address around the ring (top and bottom), and keep the London Transport bit.

Esoteric London Underground Maps

INTRODUCTION

Today I visited the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, and while I was there saw something that has led to this post.

TASTES OF LONDON

On the wall of a corridor in the Autism Research Centre I spotted this map:

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While this map keeps to the style and appearance of the current London Underground Map, my other two offerings are rather different – one is a variation on the regular map which uses smoother curves and gentler angles, and the other shows what might have been had the Romans developed underground railways…

A variation on the standard map.
A variation on the standard map.
Had the Romans devised such a system, the Londinium Underground might have looked like this.
Had the Romans devised such a system, the Londinium Underground might have looked like this.

The Victoria Line

INTRODUCTION

This time we are taking a good look at the Victoria line, the second newest on the system.

HISTORY

This line has very little history, having opened in three tranches between 1968 and 1971 and been unchanged since the Victoria-Brixton section opened in 1971. Such history as there is can be gleaned from these maps and other pictures…

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A ticket from the opening of the line.
A ticket from the opening of the line.
The first electronic ticket barriers on the system came on stream about the same time as the Victoria line was completed.
The first electronic ticket barriers on the system came on stream about the same time as the Victoria line was completed.

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SPECULATIONS

Before going into detail about my speculations anent this line, this is a geographical map showing London Transport of approximately 20 years ago (I bought it from the London Transport Museum). It is somewhat damp stained, but still perfectly readable…

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Next, this picture is of the same map but focusses on the Victoria line specifically…

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When I we were first living in Streatham (before Pratt’s had closed, so somewhere around 30 years ago now), there was a campaign to bring London Underground to Streatham by means of extending the Victoria line south from Brixton. Nothing came of this idea, as the Victoria was already packed to bursting, especially at peak times, and it was felt that an extension was therefore not feasible. Thus, the nearest stations on London Underground to Streatham remain Balham and Tooting Bec (these are both significantly closer than Brixton – I have walked it from all three over the years so I know whereof I write). Living where we did, we had a choice of many stations depending on mood and reason for travelling that were within walking distance but not particularly close – Tooting Bec on the Northern line, Streatham, Streatham Common and Tooting on mainline railways. On occasions I would choose to make the longer walk to Balham so as to wait less long for a mainline train to Clapham Junction (trains coming in from Streatham Hill, Mitcham Junction and Streatham Common all converged at Balham for the northward run to Clapham Junction and Victoria) – this was particularly the case when I was working in New Malden in the late 1990s.

I have two suggestions for easing congestion on the Victoria line as it exists currently, to enable my envisaged extensions. Firstly, the Woking-Chelsmfors link that I described in detail in this post on the Central line, originally published on aspiblog, and now available here would ease congestion on the central part of the Victoria by offering an alternative route from Victoria to King’s Cross. My second more radical suggestion is a doubling of the tracks between Brixton and Walthamstow, which would mean some loss of cross-platform interchanges for some services, but would certainly reduce congestion.

Those who read the Central line post will know that one of my planned extensions of the Victoria line involves using the northern half of the Hainault loop (the Woking-Chelmsford plan uses the southern half). I have two pictures to enable you to envisage the extension from Walthamstow to Woodford, and just before showing them will say that beyond Hainault, the Victoria would share the route to Chelmsford with the Woking-Chelmsford…

These first three pictures are of A-Z map pages which I then assembled to make pics 4 and ultimately 5.
These first three pictures are of A-Z map pages which I then assembled to make pics 4 and ultimately 5.

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The thick blue line I have added shows the rough direction of my envisaged extension.
The thick blue line I have added shows the rough direction of my envisaged extension.
Another way of showing this envisaged extension
A way of showing all my envisaged extensions

My plans for extending beyond Brixton involve two possibilities between which I cannot decide – either an extension through Streatham, at last connecting that area to London Underground to a terminus at East Croydon, and possibly then taking over the Caterham branch from mainline railways or a south-easterly extension to Sevenoaks, turning the line into a horseshoe shape. My personal preference would be for an extension through Streatham, but I admit to a degree of bias here. I am influenced by memories of deciding when I temped at Lambeth Council’s HQ in Brixton that the public transport options for the journey from Streatham did not warrant the expenditure and settling for an hours walk each way instead.

We have looked at the past, and at my vision for the future, so now it is time to focus for the rest of this piece on…

THE PRESENT

Those familiar with these surveys will know what is coming – a journey along the line as it now stands, and we are going to start from…

WALTHAMSTOW

When I think of Walthamstow I think of giving the EDL the welcome they deserved – a red hot one, which as detailed in this blog post was duplicated shortly afterwards in Norwich. I am proud to have been part of both events. Walthamstow offers an interchange to the London Overground route from Liverpool Street to Chingford (a place that has the discredit of choosing IDS as its MP).

BLACKHORSE ROAD

I covered this station in detail in this post.

TOTTENHAM HALE

This offers a connection to mainline railways. It is also one of the small but growing number of stations to have step-free access from street to platform.

SEVEN SISTERS

Another connection to London Overground, this time a route that runs from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt with a branch to Enfield Town. Two stops north of here on that route is White Hart Lane, home of Tottenham Hotspur football club.

FINSBURY PARK

This is a major interchange station, with a connection to the Piccadilly line and also to mainline railway services. If you happen to be travelling from King’s Lynn to Gatwick Airport late at night a change on to the Victoria line here rather than waiting until Kings Cross saves a little time – the extra stop being compensated for by the shorter interchange. Ignore any suggestion of using the direct connection from St Pancras to Gatwick – this is a slow stopping service, whereas the Gatwick Express from Victoria is non-stop and very fast, as it’s name suggests – what you lose by making two changes involving the Victoria line comes back with interest on the difference between the slow and fast routes to Gatwick. I have evidence to back these claims up – my aunt made the mistake of accepting well meant but incorrect advice at Kings Cross when she was recently catching a flight from Gatwick and for her return journey made the correct decision to use Gatwick express and accept an extra change, and found this journey much quicker.

HIGHBURY AND ISLINGTON

This station has an interchange to mainline railways, and also to two London Overground routes, the one that incorporates what used to be the East London Line and has southern termini at New Cross, West Croydon and Crystal Palace, and the original London Overground route, which used to run from Richmond to North Woolwich but now terminates at Stratford. There is also a mainline railway connection running to and from Moorgate, the section between Moorgate and Finsbury Park having been run as part of London Underground, both as a Metropolitan section and as a Northern line branch in its past.

KINGS CROSS ST PANCRAS

I have given this extensive treatment before, which I reproduce below:

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the next installment in my station by station guide to London. Following the success of my piece on Paddington I have gone for the other main line terminus among the original seven stations on the Metropolitan Railway…

HISTORY

King’s Cross and St Pancras are next door neighbours to one another, and therefore served by the same Underground Station. Although this was one of the 1863 originals, the platforms that now serve the Hammersmith and City, Circle and Metropolitan lines have been resited – the present ‘surafce’ level station dates only from 1941. The Piccadilly line station was part of the original section of that line which opened in 1906, while the City and South London Railway (now the Bank branch of the Northern line) got there in 1907. Finally, it was part of the second section of the Victoria line to come on stream in December 1968.

ST PANCRAS

Although King’s Cross (of which more later) is by some way the larger of the two main line rail terminals here, St Pancras is an extraordinary building, resembling an outsized fairy castle. St Pancras is now an international terminus, running trains to the continent, and meaning that over a century after he just failed to make it happen the dream of Edward Watkin, who guided the Metropolitan in its great era of expansion, of being able to travel by rail from Paris to Manchester by way of London is now a reality. Here are some pictures of this magnificent station:

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KING’S CROSS

King’s Cross is a station of two parts – the main concourse and platforms 1-8 which run long haul trains to the north and scotland, and off to one side platforms 9-11 from which trains to much more local destinations such as Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn depart. It is here that you will find the sign to platform 93/4  from which the Hogwarts Express departs in the Harry Potter stories. Having mentioned one literary association, King’s Cross plays a passing role in more than one of Edward Marston’s stories involving Inspector Colbeck a.ka. The Railway Detective.

MAPS

I have my usual style map images to help those of you not familiar with the area to orient yourselves:

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EUSTON

Another station that I have given full post treatment to – for more click here.

WARREN STREET

This is one of several stations you might use if paying a visit to University College London (Euston Square and Euston are both also possibilites, and if you were coming in from a long way out and arriving at either Kings Cross or St Pancras it would make sense to walk from there rather than batter your Oyster Card to save a few minutes.) It is also a local station for the BT Tower (nee Post Office Tower) – Goodge Street on the Northern line is closer, but it is not worth making the change if you happen to be on the Victoria line anyway.

OXFORD CIRCUS

A cross-platform interchange with the Bakerloo (like that with the Piccadilly at Finsbury Park and a couple of others) and a longer interchange to the Central. As befits a station serving one of the best known shopping streets on the planet Oxford Circus is perennially busy.

My collection of postcards based on London Transport posters concentrates on older times, so the Vicgtoria line does not really feature, but where better to display a card avertising the possibility of shopping via the underground.
My collection of postcards based on London Transport posters concentrates on older times, so the Vicgtoria line does not really feature, but where better to display a card avertising the possibility of shopping via the underground.

GREEN PARK

Interchanges with the Jubilee and Piccadilly lines, both involving a lot of walking. The station takes its name from the smallest of London’s eight royal parks. It adjoins Buckingham Palace, London seat of that outdated institution the Monarchy.

VICTORIA

A vast transport hub, including a bus station, Britain’s largest coach station and a mainline rail station. I have previously covered it in exhaustive detail, which I reproduce below…

Special Post: Victoria

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my series “London Station by Station“. I hope that you will enjoy this post and be encouraged to share it.

THE ULTIMATE IN TRANSPORT NODES

A SOUPCON OF HISTORY

Victoria Underground station first opened as part of the Metropolitan District Railway in 1868. The construction of this of the system was combined with the building of the Victoria Embankment, and was designed and overseen by Joseph William Bazelgette who was also responsible for the design of London’s sewer system. Peter Bazalgette, the TV producer who has a bridge programme from the 1980s to his credit and Big Brother to his debit is a great-great nephew of Joseph William.

The infighting between the Metropolitan District (now the District line) and it’s supposed senior partner the Metropolitan meant that the Inner Circle (now the Circle line), the other line to serve these platforms was not completed until 1884.

In spite of giving its name to the line in question, Victoria was not one of the original Victoria line stations, opening as part of the second of three tranches in 1969, before the final section from Victoria to Brixton opened in 1971.

A PHILATELIC DIGRESSION

One of the quirks of the Victoria line is that every station features a pattern o a picture of some sort used as a motif. The pattern used at Victoria, is based on one of the most famous items to feature a picture of Queen Victoria, the 2d blue postage stamp. I do not have a picture of the London Underground pattern based on it to hand, but this was lot 682 in James and Sons’ May auction…

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THE TRANSPORT HUB

Victoria is the most used station on the entire London Underground network. In excess of 60 million passenger journeys per year start or finish at this station. Victoria is a major train station, serving a wide variety of destinations to the South and East of London, including running the Gatwick Express, which connects to London’s second busiest airport. There is at the moment a bitter rivalry between Gatwick and Heathrow over who will get a new runway. My own view? Neither – do not build the thing at all – instead encourage people away from aeroplanes.

In addition to the train services there is Victoria Coach Station, from which you can reach most parts of the country, although some of the journey times are very long.

THE PHOTOGRAPHIC FINALE

As usual for these posts I have some map pictures…

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The Diagrammatic History

PIMLICO

The only station on the Victoria line to have no interchanges at all. This station was opened late, in 1972, one year after the Victoria-Brixton section opened. It serves Tate Britain, one of the four art galleries that come under the heading Tate Gallery.

VAUXHALL

I covered this station as part of a post themed around the Oval Cricket Ground, which the mainline platforms here overlook, and once again I reproduce that below…

Special Post: Oval and Vauxhall

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my series “London Station by Station”. I hope you will enjoy this post and that some of you will be encouraged to share it.

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…

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 STOCKWELL

A cross-platform interchange with the northern line. When Tooting Bec was my local London Underground station many an underground journey  featured a change at Stockwell because of the speed of travel on the Victoria line. For example, South Kensington was most quickly approached by changing at Stockwell and Victoria, rather than the one change methods involving Embankment or Leicester Square.

BRIXTON

The end of the line. As mentioned earlier in this post this where you would find Lambeth Town Hall. Brixton is also home to Electric Avenue, so called because it was the first shopping street to be lit by electricity. Brixton is also home to The Brix. Finally, Brixton was where I spent the second part of election night 1997, before making the long walk home, setting out just before 4AM and getting home around 5AM.

CONCLUSION

I hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour of the Victoria line, and I end by displaying these final pictures…

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This coin was issued to mark the 150th anniversary of London Underground, but that train looks like Victoria line stock to me.
This coin was issued to mark the 150th anniversary of London Underground, but that train looks like Victoria line stock to me.

 

 

 

Going Green

INTRODUCTION

The title of this post comes from the title of Piers Connor’s history of the District Line, which is getting the aspiblog treatment this week…

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HISTORY

As with that of it’s second youngest, the Victoria, almost precisely a century later, London’s second oldest underground line’s initial opening occurred in three phases between 1868 and 1871. After the third and final phase of opening the Metropolitan District Railway (as it was officially called at that time) looked like this:

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A running theme of these early years were squabbles between the District and the Metropolitan over the completion of The Inner Circle (now the Circle line) and who could run their trains where. In the 1870s the District started producing maps for the benefit of their passengers, as these pictures show…

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I do not know what these very early maps looked like, but here is a picture of my facsimile of a pre-Beck geographical map…

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The Richmond and Wimbledon branches were both opened during the 1870s, followed by branches to Hounslow (the origin of the Heathrow branch of today’s Piccadilly line), Uxbridge (again handed over to the Piccadilly in the 1930s) and between 1883 and 1885, before being pared back to Ealing Broadway, Windsor (more on this later). The current eastern terminus of Upminster was reached (by a grant of running powers rather than new build) in 1902, and for a brief period as this reproduction postcard shows occasional District line trains ran to Southend and Shoeburyness…

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Additionally, a branch to Kensington Olympia was created, which linked to a corresponding branch south from whatt is now the Hammersmith and City. Also, sometimes services ran from the district line north of Olympia to Willesden Junction. Additionally, there was a spur to South Acton and even briefly a terminus specifically to serve Hounslow Barracks.

In the 1930s a lot of the western services (Hounslow and Uxbridge specifically) were transferred to the Piccadilly line, while the Hounslow Barracks service ceased to exist, and the South Acton spur was abandoned.

Nevertheless, with main western termini at Wimbledon, Richmond and Ealing, and a cross branch serving Wimbledon, Edgware Road and Kensington Olympia the District remains a very complicated line.

SPECULATIONS

Although I leave the eastern end of the line unchanged, my suggestions for the District involve some very dramatic changes. My plans for the Wimbledon, Edgware Road and Olympia branches will form the subject of a later post, and for the moment I will settle for saying that these branches would cease to form part of the District line, and that as with my changes involving branches that would remain part of the District line the plans involve making use of a feature that might otherwise be problematic (see The Great Anomaly), the fact that being one the older lines, this line was built to mainline specifications. Although my plans for the Richmond and Ealing branches are big, they involve only a small amount of new track – enough to link the lines that serve Windsor and Eton Riverside and Windsor and Eton Central forming a giant loop at the western end of the line. This loop would link with my suggested London Orbital Railway at Staines and at West Drayton. Thus in place of the current fiendishly complex District Line there would be ‘horizontal frying pan’ line, with Upminster to Turnham Green serving as the handle in this model. It would also make possible a reissue with appropriate modifications of this old poster…

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A GUIDED TOUR OF THE PRESENT-DAY DISTRICT LINE

From Richmond to Gunnersbury the District and London Overground share a route, which features one of only two above-ground crossings of the Thames on the entire network (the other is Putney Bridge – East Putney on the Wimbledon branch of the District). Richmond features a deer park, as advertised on this old poster…

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Kew Gardens actually has a pub that is built into the station, and serves a world famous botanic garden…

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Gunnersbury is not very significant, although the flying junction that this branch forms with the rest of the District line just beyond here and just before Turnham Green is very impressive, to the extent that it too has featured in a PR campaign back in the day…

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The section from Ealing Broadway to Acton Town includes a depot which features the steepest gradient on the system at 1 in 28 (passengers are not carried over this gradient – the steepest passenger carrying gradient is 1 in 32). At Ealing Common the District and Piccadilly lines converge, not to diverge again until the Piccadilly goes underground just east of Barons Court and even then, the Piccadilly follows the District at a deeper level until South Kensington. Between Acton Town and Turnham Green the District calls at Chiswick Park. After Turnham Green the District has stations at Stamford Brook and Ravenscourt Park. From the latter the remains of the viaduct that once carried trains from what is now the Hammersmith and City lines onto these tracks can still be seen. Beyond Hammersmith and Barons Court the District calls at West Kensington before arrving at the grand meeting point of Earls Court. Immediately east of Earls Court is Gloucester Road (pronounced glos-ta not glue-cess-ta – Americans please note), which at platform level has been restored to something like it would have looked in 1868, while the frontage at surface level is as nearly restored as the creation of a new shopping centre permits…

The inside back cover of the Piers Connor book - a look along one of the restored platforms at Gloucester Road.
The inside back cover of the Piers Connor book – a look along one of the restored platforms at Gloucester Road.
From London Underground: The Official Handbook, a picture of Gloucester Road at surface level.
From London Underground: The Official Handbook, a picture of Gloucester Road at surface level.

One stop further east at South Kensington is an original shopping arcade of the sort that several stations were provided with back in the day, complete with some splendid decorative ironwork (pictures photographed from London underground: The Official Handbook…)

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One stop on from South Kensington is Sloane Square, which I remember from growing up in London is the station that served Peter Jones (a huge department store). Also, a large pipe above the platforms here is the only routinely visible sign of the river Westbourne (for more detail click here). From Sloane Square, the line visits Victoria (the ultimate transport hub). We are about enter a section of the journey featuring a lot of landmarks, so I will be giving each station I cover a section heading, starting with…

ST JAMES PARK

This station is the local station for London Underground’s official headquarters, located at 55 Broadway. It is also, along with Temple and Mansion House one only three stations on this section if the district to be served only by the district and circle lines.

WESTMINSTER

The local station for the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey (officially the Collegiate Church of St Peter). The Abbey was originally founded by Edward the Confessor, who reigned from 1042-1066. While many look askance at the amounts of money trousered by folks in the House of Commons these people are at least elected, whereas in the House of Lords large sums  of money go to people who are not elected, some of whom barely bother to attend and the vast majority of whom have demonstrated time and again that they are a waste of space. Even Baron Kinnock of Bedwelty, who has personally profited hugely from the existence of the House of Lords reckons that it is ripe for abolition. Since the opening of the warped (I will not dignify it with the word modified) Jubilee line extension in 1999 there has been an interchange here.

EMBANKMENT

The station that has been through more name changes than any other on the system (people couldn’t decide whether Charing Cross, Embankment or both should be emphasised). The issue was put to bed for good in 1979 when the Jubilee opened, and its Charing Cross terminus created interchanges with what had previously been separate stations, Trafalgar Square on the Bakerloo line and Strand on the Northern, which meant that with Charing Cross definitively settled on for the marginally more northerly of the stations, this one had to be plain Embankment. The Embankment from which this station takes its name was designed as part of the building of this line by Joseph William Bazalgette, who also designed London’s sewer system. His great-great grandson Peter is a well known TV producer with some good series to his credit and Big Brother to his debit. This, photographed from the Piers Connor book is a diagram of the profile of the Embankment…

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TEMPLE

This is the only station name to feature both on London Underground and the Paris Metro (it also features on the Hong Kong network). In the days before the Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly line was axed there was an interchange here, as Temple is very close to Aldwych.

BLACKFRIARS

A station which derives its name from the Dominicans, who were referred to as black friars because of the colour of their habits. There is an interchange with both Thameslink and South Eastern here. Also, it is one end point of short scenic walk, which takes in a bridge over the Thames, Gabriel’s Wharf, The Oxo Tower, the Bernie Spain Gardens and the vast collection of attractions that between them constitute The South Bank, finally ending at Waterloo. Also if you go East instead of West after crossing the river you can take in the ruins of Winchester Palace (the former London residence of the Bishop of Winchester) and Clink Street, once home to a prison so notorious that ‘clink’ became slang for prison, a building that now houses London Dungeon, ending at London Bridge (you could continue yet further east – to Greenwich or even Woolwich were you feeling strong). I have done Waterloo – London Bridge and also Greenwich-London Bridge, and indeed Woolwich-Greenwich, so all these indvidual stretches are comfortably manageable. Also in this part of the world is Sainsbury’s main post-room where I once temped for a week (giving the agency feedback I took the opportunity to make it clear that I would not take any more work in that particular establishment – it was hell).

MANSION HOUSE

This name is either contradictory (a mansion is different from a house, being much larger) or tautologous (a mansion in a kind of large house) depending on your definitions. From 1871-1884 it was the eastern end of the District. The building after which the station is named is “the home and office of the Lord Mayor of the city of London” – an office filled four times by Richard Whittington (for once the story underplayed the the truth) in the fourteenth century.

CANNON STREET

A mainline rail terminus, albeit not a very significant one.

MONUMENT

I mentioned this station in my post about the Central line because it is connected to the various lines that serve by Bank by means of escalators. This interchange was first created in 1933, but the current arrangement dates only from the opening of the Docklands Light Railway terminus at Bank.

TOWER HILL

I have given this station an individual post to itself. From here the Circle and District diverge, the Circle going round to Aldgate while the District heads to Aldgate East. It is also at this point that I abandon for the moment separate station headings.

THE EASTERN END OF THE LINE

At Aldgate East the Hammersmtih and City line joins the District and they run together as far as Barking. In between Aldgate East and Whitechapel there used be a line connecting to Shadwell (formerly East London Line, now London Overground). Whitechapel has been in the news recently because a museum that was given planning permission on the basis of being dedicated to the women of the East End turned out when it opened to be dedicated to Jack the Ripper. This has been the subject of a vigorous 38Degrees campaign seeking both to get the monstrosity closed and to establish a proper East End Womens Museum. Some of those involved in the campaign met with the mayor of Tower Hamlets recently, and he has apparently been sympathetic and has confirmed that he too is unhappy with the way the planning process was subverted by an act of calculated dishonesty. Beyond Whitechapel, the line has an interchange with the Central line at Mile End which is unique for an interchange between ‘tube’ and ‘subsurface’ lines in being cross-platform and underground, Bow Road, which has an interchange with the Docklands Light Railway station at Bow Church is the last station on the line to be in tunnel. East of Bow Road the line rises on a 1 in 45 gradient to emerge into the open some way before Bromley-by-Bow. West Ham is nowadays a major interchange, featuring mainline railways, the Jubilee line, the Docklands Light Railway (this section which runs from Stratford to Woolwich was once part of the line that became the nucleus of London Overground, which originally ran from Richmond to North Woolwich, but now terminates at Stratford) and of course the District and Hammersmith & City lines. The main line railway runs side by side with the District to Upminster, and then continues to Southend and Shoeburyness. Upton Park is until 2017, when the club in question move to the Olympic Stadium, the local station for West Ham United’s home ground. East Ham is now on the map as the location of a new trampoline park and laser maze. For more on this click on the picture below to read Time Out’s piece on the new attraction.

A trampoline park with a laser maze and a mega slide is coming to London this spring

Barking in the eastern limit of the Hammersmith & City, also the terminus of London Overground branch from Gospel Oak and an interchange with mainline railways. Upminster is the easternmost destination currently served by London Underground.

EDGWARE ROAD, OLYMPIA AND WIMBLEDON

For this section I will be reverting to individual headings for station names…

EDGWARE ROAD

A four platform station, where the Hammersmith & City line and the District and Circle lines meet (do not be fooled by the fact that both have stations called Paddington). This is the only one of the original 1863 stations to be served by District line trains.

PADDINGTON (PRAED STREET)

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.

BAYSWATER

This station is on the north side of Hyde Park, and like the two on either side of it still has the same style of roof over the platforms as when it opened – a style now not seen anywhere else on the system.

NOTTING HILL GATE

I refer you to my previous post devoted to this station.

HIGH STREET KENSINGTON

This is the point at which this branch of the District diverges from the Circle line. The District branch continues south to the “Crewe of the Underground”, Earls Court, while the circle goes round to Gloucester Road (this section of track features in the Adventure of the Bruce Partington Plans, being the point at which the body of Arthur Cadogan West was fed through a rear window of a flat occupied by one Hugo Oberstein onto the roof of a conveniently stationary train, where it remained until being shaken off at Aldgate. Mycroft Holmes was sufficiently discombobulated by the case to change his routine (a thing so rare that his brother the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes likened it to seeing a tram car in a country lane) and pay a visit to Baker Street to seek assistance.

OLYMPIA

Trains to all manner of destinations pass through this station, but for the District it is a mere side branch..

WEST BROMPTON

An interchange with a London Overground branch. This station is fully open to the elements, as are all the others we have still to pass through.

FULHAM BROADWAY

The local station for Chelsea FC’s home ground, Stamford Bridge.

PARSONS GREEN

This would become a District line terminus, with an interchange to the new Hackney-Chelsea line, under official plans. In my personal ideas for the future it would be an interchange point but no terminus.

PUTNEY BRIDGE

The local station for Fulham FC’s home ground, Craven Cottage. This would also be the best station to travel to if you wished to catch the Boat Race, second oldest of all the inter-university sporting contests.

Like some the other posters I have displayed in this post this one would need adapting, but it could certainly be reissued.
Like some the other posters I have displayed in this post this one would need adapting, but it could certainly be reissued.

The oldest of all the inter-university sporting contests is the Varsity Cricket Match, first played in 1827, two years before the first Boat Race took place.

EAST PUTNEY

This station is the first of a section that used to be mainline railway.

SOUTHFIELDS

Another stop with a sporting connection – this is the local station for the world’s most famous tennis championship – Wimbledon. Although I have already given this station a full post, I show this picture again…

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WIMBLEDON PARK

The second to last stop on our journey.

WIMBLEDON

As we approach this station, we first join up with the mainline services from Waterloo coming in from Earlsfield, and then with Thameslink services coming in from Haydons Road. Wimbledon is also one terminus of the London Tram system. Along the north side of the tracks as one approaches Wimbledon runs Alexandra Road, and we pass underneath a bridge carrying Gap Road across the tracks to a junction.

ODDS AND ENDS

I have a few promotional pictures still to share, and some maps to round out this post. Other than that, I hope you enjoyed the ride…

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The District line and its history.
The District line and its history.
The District line and its connections.
The District line and its connections.
Close focus on the two Windsor branches that I would incorporate into the District making a loop at the western end.
Close focus on the two Windsor branches that I would incorporate into the District making a loop at the western end.

Project Piccadilly

INTRODUCTION

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…

AN OVERVIEW

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”

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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…

The Piccadilly line on London Underground: A Diagrammatic History.
The Piccadilly line on London Underground: A Diagrammatic History.
The Piccadilly line and its connections today (photographed from the current edition of the London Connections map)
The Piccadilly line and its connections today (photographed from the current edition of the London Connections map)
A facsimile of a promotional poster for the Piccadilly line.
A facsimile of a promotional poster for the Piccadilly line.

Having set the scene, it is time to strap yourselves in for…

THE JOURNEY

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…

Light at the end of Tunnel

That attended to, we can now get back on the journey proper starting at…

COCKFOSTERS

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.

ARNOS GROVE

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.

WOOD GREEN

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…

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FINSBURY PARK

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…

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ARSENAL

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.

KINGS CROSS

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

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.

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Russell Square also serves the iconic British Museum, and they also provide full detail on possible ways of getting there.

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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.

Clark Hall at the Institute of Education, set up for a meeting, appropriately enough on education.
Clark Hall at the Institute of Education, set up for a meeting, appropriately enough on education.
The picture that adorns the wall of Clarke Hall.
The picture that adorns the wall of Clarke Hall.
The artists signature.
The artists signature.

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HOLBORN

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.

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BACK TO THE JOURNEY

The digression done, it is time to resume our progress along the Piccadilly, which next takes us to…

COVENT GARDEN

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.

LEICESTER SQUARE

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.

PICCADILLY

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.

GREEN PARK

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.

SOUTH KENSINGTON

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…

ACTON TOWN

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.

Early advertising of the Heathrow connection.
Early advertising of the Heathrow connection.

ALPERTON

I have covered the quirky feature of this station in a previous post.

SUDBURY TOWN

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 design of the station.
The design of the station.
A double page spread picture of the completed station.
A double page spread picture of the completed station.

SOUTH HARROW

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.

RAYNERS LANE

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:

  1. The lido as a whole
  2. The Ruislip Lido Railway
  3. The official view on how to get there.

ICKENHAM

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.

HILLINGDON

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.

UXBRIDGE

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!