St Albans and St Albans Abbey

INTRODUCTION

I was inspired to create this post by reading a wonderful piece about a walk in Roman St Albans by Debbie Smyth on travelwithintent, of which much more later. Walking will bulk quite large throughout this post.

TWO VERY DIFFERENT STATIONS

St Albans station is a reasonably major station just beyond the official boundary of Greater London. Services to this station are fast and fairly frequent – a non-stop service from St Pancras takes approximately 20 minutes to reach St Albans.

St Albans Abbey station is at the end of a small branch line with not very frequent services (I have travelled it more than once). The other end of the line is at Watford Junction, and there is at present no through connection. Here are some maps for your assistance…

The connections.
The connections.
A closer focus on the branch and two St Albans stations.
A closer focus on the branch and two St Albans stations.
The walking route between the two stations (extracted from google maps)
The walking route between the two stations (extracted from google maps)

SPECULATIVE SECTION

I have made mention of St Albans and its potentialities for greater public transport integration in a number of previous posts:

  • In “The Great Anomaly“, my post on the Metropolitan line, I mentioned it in explaining my idea for the using the Amersham and Watford branches (which would cease to be part of the Metropolitan) as part of an envisaged London Orbital Railway.
  • In my post on the Bakerloo Line I wrote about re-extending the Bakerloo to Watford Junction and then having it take over the St Albans Abbey shuttle service, with a through connection being established at Watford Junction.
  • In my post on the Central Line I explained in detail my envisaged London Orbital Railway and its connections.
  • In London Underground’s Worst Bodge Job, my post on the Northern line, I suggested splitting the line into two halves, with the Edgware/ Charing Cross half being extended north from Edgware as to Luton Airport Parkway, following the mainline from Elstree & Borehamwood on, and south from Kennington to Gatwick Airport.

Tying all these together my future for St Albans’ public transport connections involves:

  1. The Metropolitan’s current Watford scheme (extending to Watford Junction from Croxley, abandoning the current terminus) would be subsumed within the Orbital Railway, which would also make use of an adaptation of the plan outlined in Colne Valley Transit Proposal shown below:
    DSCN4159In my version of the scheme, which sees it become part of the London Orbital Railway, the Met keeps its Chesham terminus, and the new scheme runs service through Amersham.
  2. The Bakerloo takes over the St Albans Abbey branch, running services straight through to St Albans. As will be revealed later in this post I have an idea for a further possible extension in St Albans to increase integration.
  3. The Northern line Edgware and Charing Cross branches become the nucleus of a line running from Gatwick Airport to Luton Airport Parkway.

TWO GREAT WALKS

WALK 1: ROMAN ST ALBANS (DEBBIE SMYTH)

I start this section with the walk Debbie Smyth talks about in “A Roamin’ Walk through Roman St Albans“. To encourage you to read and comment on Debbie’s splendid post I offer you two pictures and the opening paragraph…

St Alban’s is first recorded as a Celtic British Iron Age settlement, known as Verlamion.  After the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43, it grew into Verlamium, the third largest town in Roman Britain…

The route map
The route map

To view the original map picture click here.

A sample picture (there are many more in the original)
A sample picture (there are many more in the original)

The original of the above picture can be viewed here.

To view the full post (and I reiterate my encouragement of you to do so) click here.

WALK 2: ST ALBANS – WATFORD
(FROM COUNTRY WALKS AROUND LONDON)

This walk, which I did many years ago when I still lived in London is also well worth a look. I have the route map, a picture showing the whole walk, and individual shots of each double page it occupies…

DSCN4157

Walk

DSCN4153 DSCN4156 DSCN4155 DSCN4154

THE VERULAMIUM MUSEUM

Mention has already been made of St Albans’ significance in Roman times, and this final section adds to that by pointing to the Verulamium Museum as an establishment comfortably walkable from both stations at which you can find out more about this history. Here are some maps showing the walking routes…

Walking there from the minor station.
Walking there from the minor station.

To view the original of this map and written instructions, click here.

Walking there from the major station.
Walking there from the major station.

To view the original of this map and written instructions, click here.

The plan that occurred to me based on these maps (and it would need to very sensitively devised if it were to go ahead) was for an extension from St Albans Abbey to a dedicated station for the Verulamium Museum and then a new terminus at St Albans for an interchange to the main station.

I hope that you have all enjoyed this look at St Albans, a fascinating and historic town on London’s doorstep.

The Bakerloo Line

INTRODUCTION

A continuation of my series of posts about the lines the make up London Underground. My last post in this category was this purely speculative effort.

RED TRAINS AND FLUCTUATIONS

The Baker Street and Waterloo railway opened in 1906, running initially from Lambeth North (originally called Westminster Bridge Road) to Baker Street. By 1910 it had been extended to run from Elephant and Castle to Edgware Road. “The Elephant” as it is colloquially known remains the southern terminus to this day, but the line was extended north in stages, to Paddington in 1913, Queens Park where it rose to the surface in 1915, and then running over mainline tracks, with “compromise” height (see Project Piccadilly for more detail) platforms on to Watford Junction, to which services started running in 1917.

For 22 years this remained the way of things, but the Metropolitan line’s inner reaches were becoming badly congested, and so in 1939 a new branch was opened, diverging from Baker Street to St John’s Wood, Swiss Cottage and Finchley Road, at which point it came to the surface and took over the intermediate stations between Finchley Road and Wembley Park, and also the Stanmore branch beyond Wembley Park.

The Bakerloo continued to run on these lines, with two branches to Watford Junction and Stanmore for 40 years, but over time it began to suffer from congestion, and a new tube line, planned as part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations and hence called the Jubilee line was opened in 1979, running from Charing Cross to Green Park, Bond Street and Baker Street, at which point it took over the Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo.

In 1982 the remaining branch was cut back from Watford Junction to Queens Park, before being gradually re-extended as far as Harrow and Wealdstone (the current northern terminus). Here are some maps to help you get to grips with these developments…

London Underground in 1910 (the first five of these pics all come from The Spread of London's Underground
London Underground in 1910 (the first five of these pics all come from The Spread of London’s Underground

DSCN5773 DSCN5775 DSCN5776 DSCN5777 DSCN5828

ROLLING STOCK ROUND TRIP

When I first travelled on the Bakerloo line it still had red painted trains while every other line was running unpainted rolling stock. These red trains were the last of the 1938 stock, the very last one of which was withdrawn from service in 1985. Post WWII aluminium stock was introduced, and because aluminium dooes not corrode there is no necessity to paint it (or so people thought). The problem (apart from the fact that plain unpainted aluminium is boring and ugly) is that large basically white surfaces were taken as an invitation by graffiti artists, and although the spray paint could be washed off it left a ‘ghost’ behind it. Thus, the practice of painting rolling stock was reintroduced, although rather than being solid colour, it is nowadays in the corporate livery of London Underground. For those who wish to see what the 1938 stock was like, there is a carriage of that stock that you can look around at the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden.

SPECULATIONS

This will be a brief section giving in outline of possible extensions of this line. The Elephant and Castle terminus is well positioned for a south-easterly extension towards Maidstone (see my post on the Central line for the significance of Maidstone in my overall vision). At the northern end of the line I would reinstate services to Watford Junction and then project Bakerloo line services further over the branch line that runs from Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey, tying in with the northern part of the route of my envisioned London Orbital Railway which would run a faster service, stopping only at Garston between Watford and St Albans. I might have a 50:50 split of Bakerloo services at Watford Junction, with the other half running again alongside the Orbital railway to Rickmansworth. Here are a couple of maps and a postcard for you…

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The modern map in full detail.
The modern map in full detail.
The branch line I propose to subsume into an extended Bakerloo, with an indication the route to be followed by the Orbital Railway in this scheme.
The branch line I propose to subsume into an extended Bakerloo, with an indication the route to be followed by the Orbital Railway in this scheme.

THE PRESENT

We have looked at the past and at my vision for the future, so now it is back to the present, and we will be taking a journey along the line from Elephant & Castle to Harrow & Wealdstone.

ELEPHANT AND CASTLE

The current southern terminus of the line, offering interchanges with the Northern line, Thameslink and South Eastern. To find out more about this location follow this link.

LAMBETH NORTH

This is one of only two stations on the stretch from Elephant and Castle to Baker Street that has no interchanges at all. It is the local station for the Imperial War Museum.

WATERLOO

A massive transport hub, which I covered in full detail on aspiblog and which I now reproduce here:

INTRODUCTION

This is the latest post in my series providing a station by station guide to London. Previous posts in the series can be viewed on the following link. Enjoy…

THE SOUTH BANK OF THE THAMES

Waterloo has more main line train platforms than any other station in the country, is served by four underground lines (all ‘tube’ rather than ‘surface’). The Waterloo and City line, originally run as part of the London & South West Railway, opened for business in 1898 making it the second oldest of London’s deep level tube lines after the City and South London Railway (now part of the Northern line). The Bakerloo line opened in 1906, the second underground line to serve Waterloo. A southbound extension of the Charing Cross, Euston & Hamsptead line to enable an amalgamation with the City and South London to form today’s Northern line took place in 1926, making it the third underground line to serve Waterloo. Finally, in 1999 the Jubilee line was extended via Waterloo, although the original intent to serve the still under-equipped parts of south east London and west Kent has been warped by a combination of greed and vanity about which more in my next post.

Waterloo is as the above makes clear a major interchange. It is also a superb destination in its own right, being home to The Old Vic theatre, The Royal Festival Hall, The complex of the Purcell Room and the Queen Elizabeth Hall (please note that these two venues are currently closed for maintenance work and will not be reopening before 2017), The National Film Theatre, The National Theatre,  besides serving as a good starting point for a walk along the Thames which depending on how energetic you are feeling could be stop at Southwark (Jubilee line), Blackfriars (District, Circle and main line railways), London Bridge (Northern, Jubilee, main line railways) or even further east.

See also my post on the District line which gives this station a passing mention.

EMBANKMENT

I covered this station from a District line perspective in the post referred to above. However, I missed one landmark when talking about it there: Cleopatra’s Needle, one of three Egyptian obelisks now adorning major global cities – its fellows can be seen in Paris and New York.

CHARING CROSS

This station takes its name from the memorials the Edward I built for his wife Eleanor, the Eleanor Crosses, of which Charing Cross is easily the most famous. Officially there is an interchange to the Northern line here as well as to mainline railways, but the interchanges at Waterloo and Embankment are both better options. The only reason for an interchange being shown is that when the Jubilee line opened in 1979 its southern terminus was at this station, and it offered an interchange with both lines. Originally, the Northern line station was called Strand and the Bakerloo, Trafalgar Square.

Although these posters were originally produced to advertise mainline railways, both feature Trafalgar Square.
Although these posters were originally produced to advertise mainline railways, both feature Trafalgar Square.

DSCN5768

Charing Cross is also famous as the centre of the 10 Km radius circle within which London Taxi drivers must be familiar with everything (this is called The Knowledge, an expression believed to be derived from Sherlock Holmes, who in The Adventure of the Red Headed League told Watson “it is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of London”).

PICCADILLY CIRCUS

The only interchange between the Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines. This is also one of the stations that serves London’s Theatreland. You can also see the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, colloquially known as the Eros Statue here. Finally, this is an area London notorious for its bright lights…

PCs

OXFORD CIRCUS

I mentioned this station in my piece about the Central Line. From a Bakerloo perspective, this station offers the only interchange between this line and the Victoria line, and it is a cross-platform interchange, one of two on this line. When this line was built, the company building it deliberately followed the line of the road, in this case Regent Street, to avoid paying easements to property owners beneath whom they passed. The resultant curve is really too tight for trains and means that speed is restricted on this part of the route.

REGENTS PARK

The other station on this line south of Baker Street to have no interchanges. It is one of two stations (the other being Camden Town on the Northern line) to serve London Zoo.

BAKER STREET

I covered this in a full-length post a while back, but before sharing that link, I need to correct an error in that post. The building that used by the London Planetarium is now owned by Madame Tussaud’s and used for an entirely different purpose. To see the Planetarium you now need to visit the Royal Observatory, walkable from either Cutty Sark (DLR) or Greenwich (mainline railways). Finally, this station is the second at which the Bakerloo has a cross-platform interchange, in this case with the Jubilee, which after all was created to take over the Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo.

MARYLEBONE

An interchange with Chiltern Railways, and trains to Aylesbury and Birmingham. The other interchanges between London Underground and this network are at Harrow-on-the-Hill (Metropolitan) and West Ruislip (Central).

EDGWARE ROAD

Very briefly the northern terminus of the line.

PADDINGTON

I have previously produced a full length post about this station.

PADDINGTON

THREE STATIONS BECOME ONE

Paddington was one the original seven stations that opened as The Metropolitan Railway on January 10th 1863 – it was the western terminus of the line, although right from the start there were track links to the Great Western Railway, which supplied the Metropolitan with rolling stock before it developed its own. In 1864 the western terminus became Hammersmith, over the route of today’s Hammersmith and City line, and the origins of the station can still be seen because the H&C platforms are structurally part of the mainline station, although ticket barriers now intervene between them and the rest. The second set of London Underground platforms to be opened at Paddington were also originally opened by the Metropolitan, although they are now served by the Circle and the Edgware Road branch of the District line. They opened in 1868 as Paddington (Praed Street) – as opposed to Paddington (Bishop’s Road), the original 1863 station. In 1913 a northern extension of the Bakerloo line included a deep level station at Paddington. By 1948 the suffixes of both ‘surface’ stations had been dropped, and all three sets of platforms were known simply as Paddington.

A LITERARY DISAPPOINTMENT

In 2013, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Metropolitan Railway Penguin brought out a series of books, one for each line. I wrote about all of these books at the time, but I am going to mention Philippe Parreno’s “effort” about the Hammersmith and City line again. Given the line that contains all seven of the original 1863 stations Mr Parreno produced a book that contained no words, just a series of pictures. Had these pictures been meaningful and clearly associated with the line and its stations this might have been acceptable, but these pictures were blurry and meaningless (it was barely even possible to tell what they were supposed to be of).

OTHER LITERARY ASSOCIATIONS

Of course, when thinking of Paddington’s literary associations the one that springs instantly to mind is that with the fictional world’s best known refugee: Paddington Bear. Also however, Dr Watson (see “Baker Street” in this same series) had his first practice here after moving out of Baker Street to set up home with his wife (see A Scandal in Bohemia for more details).

Additionally Paddington is home to London’s Floating Bookshop.

I also mentioned one aspect of this station in my post on the District line:

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.

WARWICK AVENUE, MAIDA VALE
AND KILBURN PARK

These three stations are the last stations that the Bakerloo calls at before rising to the surface. Maida Vale is notable for this mosaic version of one of the world’s best known logos:

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QUEENS PARK

This is where the Bakerloo line rises to the surface and joins mainline railways for the rest of its northward course. To the north of this station the Bakerloo line passes through a train shed – the only such journey a passenger can make on London Underground.

WILLESDEN JUNCTION

This is a station on two levels. At the lower level are the Bakerloo line platforms and those served by train services running to Watford, the midlands and the north-west and also south to Kensington Olympia, Clapham Junction and beyond. At the higher level are platforms carrying London Overground services on a route that nowadays runs between Richmond and Stratford, although it used have a terminus at North Woolwich. The Stratford – North Woolwich section is now part of the Docklands Light Railway, with a small extension across the Thames to Woolwich Arsenal.

HARROW AND WEALDSTONE

The current northern terminus. Also, the first stop out of Euston for services terminating at Milton Keynes.

BOOKS AND MAPS

The modern London Connections and London & Southeast Map can be picked up free from various locations.

 

The Spread of London`s Underground

The Spread of London’s Underground can be obtained from The London Transport Museum for £8.95

 

The current edition of London Underground: A Diagrammatic History can be obtained from Stanfords for £8.95