Big Wheels Old and New

INTRODUCTION

This post was inspired by a number of lots that will be featuring in James and Sons’ next auction (20th – 22nd February, 1st two days at James and Sons’ premises in Fakenham, third day at The Maids Head Hotel, Norwich).

THE GIGANTIC WHEEL, EARLS COURT

This structure, from the top of which Windsor Castle was visible on a good day, was open between 1895 and 1906 (hence the green coloured heading – it closed before the Piccadilly line opened,m meaning that the only public transport link would have been the District line). More about this wheel can be found here.

Lots 1286-90 inclusive and also lots 1294-5 in the auction are tokens/ medallions from this wheel’s period of operation…

If this gallery has tickled your fancy, a click on the image of lot 1286 reproduced below will take you to a full auctuion catalogue:

Lot 1286

THE LONDON EYE

The nearest experience to this you can enjoy in the capital today is on the London Eye, which is near Waterloo, and hence can be reached on the Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee and Waterloo & City lines, as well as mainline, national and international railways and by boat.

For more on today’s version of a gigantic wheel visit the official website.

Mostly Tidy But Ends In Chaos

INTRODUCTION

The title for this post comes from a cryptic clue in Saturday’s Times Crossword (I was solving the ordinary clues but noticed this particular clue). I will give the full clue and its solution at the end of the post.

FROM PURPLE TO GREY VIA BROWN

The station that answers the clue was opened as a Metropolitan line station in 1880, then in 1939 the Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo line opened, and in 1940 Metropolitan line services were withdrawn from this station. In 1979  the Jubilee line was opened, comprising new track from Charing Cross to Baker Street and then taking over the Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo line. This station is connected to a large depot.

It serves a residential area which contains very little of note.

Here are some map pictures for you:

The modern connections of our station.
The modern connections of our station.
From the digrammatic history.
From the digrammatic history.
The first o two pictures from its days as a Metropolitan line station.
The first o two pictures from its days as a Metropolitan line station.

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THE FULL CLUE AND SOLUTION

The full clue read “An area of London, mostly tidy but ends in chaos”. The solution is a place that starts with the first three letters of the word ‘neat’ and finishes with the letters of ‘ends’ shuffled about – Neasden, home to to a major depot and nothing else of significance.

Kenton and Northwick Park

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this post about two unremarkable stations.  This post came about because on Wednesday evening I was looking through a Railway Atlas that I had acquired at the auction that my employers were running (for more on this click here) and saw a picture that gave me an idea.

THE HISTORY

Kenton, nowadays the one stop south of the northern terminus of the Bakerloo line, was first served by that line in 1917, five years after it opened (although the line on which it sits had been in operation since the 1830s), services that far north being suspended in 1982 before being reintroduced in 1984. Northwick Park, on the Metropolitan, though being on a stretch of track built in 1885 did not open for business until 1923, when it was originally called Northwick Park & Kenton before losing the suffix, which is a good place to share some maps as a lead in to the next section…

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TIME TO ACKNOWLEDGE
AN INTERCHANGE?

The picture that gave me the clue that led to this post was this one…

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Noting that although showing no features these maps seemed to be paying at least lip-service to geography (as Mr Beck’s creation and the zillions of imitations it spawned do not) I decided this warranted investigation to see whether these two stations really were close enough together to be considered an effective interchange. Google Maps today yielded the following…

Kenton - Northwick Park

Given Google Maps’ habitual over-estimation of walking times I would say that this constitutes prima facie evidence that indeed Kenton-Northwick Park and vice versa does deserve to be considered a genuine interchange. I have put Kenton first in this suggestion because I could see a situation where if you lived significantly north of Baker Street on the Bakerloo and needed to travel somewhere on the outer reaches of the Metropolitan a short walk from Kenton to Northwick Park would save time on travelling away from destination and then back towards it (even allowing for the possibility of a second change at Harrow-on-the-Hill, since Amersham services do not stop at Northwick Park).

SIGNIFICANT PLACES IN THE AREA

There are just two places worthy of individual mention in this area, and I append links to their respective websites below:

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…

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Walk

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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 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.

 

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

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The Great Anomaly

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest addition to my series “London Station by Station“. My post on the Hammersmith and City line enjoyed some success, and my second essay in covering a whole line in one post, Project Piccadilly, was even more successful, featuring in two online publications. So now I am producing a third post of that type, this time on the Metropolitan line.

ANOMALIES

Metropolitan by name, very unmetropolitan by nature. Also, it is classed as London Underground, but most of its length is in the open air. The only stretch of this line is currently constituted that follows the original Metropolitan Railway is from just west of Farringdon to just east of Baker Street (The original eastern terminus was at Farringdon Street, just south of the present station, and the Metropolitan platforms at Baker Street (nos 1-4) are not those used by the original line). Almost the entire length of the current line (and there was once a lot more of it as you will see in due course) developed from…

A SINGLE TRACK BRANCH FROM BAKER STREET TO SWISS COTTAGE

In 1868 a single track spur was opened from the Metropolitan Railway running north from Baker Street to St John’s Wood Road, Marlborough Road and terminating at Swiss Cottage. It was this little spur that caught the attention of Edward Watkin, who saw it as having a role to play in achieving his dream of a rail network linking Paris, London and Manchester, his three favourite cities (he would have managed this had he not been baulked over his version of the Channel Tunnel, which eventually opened a century later).

EXPANSION

That single track spur would be doubled, and from its next point north, Finchley Road, quadrupled and it would spread out into the hinterlands of Buckinghamshire, giving rise to a number of new branches. At its absolute height there were branches terminating at Uxbridge (sill present in its entirety), Stanmore (still served but not by the Met), Watford (still present as opened in 1925), Chesham (still as opened in 1889), Verney Junction (a place of no significance near modern day Milton Keynes) and Brill (at 51 miles from Baker Street the furthest point from London reached by any London Underground line). The latter two branches were closed in the middle 1930s, services terminating at Quainton Road just beyond Aylesbury for a time, until further paring back to Aylesbury (still served by mainline trains, with a new station at Aylesbury Vale Parkway just beyond Aylesbury itself) and finally Amersham, the current outlying point of the system, a mere 27 miles from Baker Street.

After the expansionism of Watkin, the third of the three great figures in the development of the Metropolitan took over, Robert Hope Selbie, creator of “Metroland”.

To help you orient yourself here are some maps…

Brill and Oxford.
Brill and Oxford.
The Metropolitan Railway and its connecttions.
The Metropolitan Railway and its connecttions.
“Metroland”
The area around Verney Junction.
The area around Verney Junction.

To finish this section, The Stanmore branch, along with the intermediate stations between Finchley Road and Wembley Park, and new tube-level intermediates between Baker Street and Finchley Road was taken over by the Bakerloo line in 1939, and then to ease congestion on the latter by the new Jubilee line (with brand spanking new stations at Bond Street, Green Park and Charing Cross as well).

SPECULATIVE SUGGESTIONS

Of the Metropolitan branches that are still served by that line, the Amersham and Watford branches would be subsumed into my plans for a London Orbital Railway (Rickmansworth would be the northwestern corner of the orbital network itself, with a spur running via Amersham and Aylesbury to form significant connections at Oxford and/ or Milton Keynes (see the section above, and also my post “Ongar”). The Chesham branch would then become one of just two Metropolitan branches, with a northward extension to Tring and another interchange with mainline railways. The Uxbridge branch would remain unchanged, though gaining a connection with the Orbital route. At the other end, Aldgate would be abandoned as a terminus, the track connection from Aldgate East to Shadwell be revived for the Metropolitan, and a connection via New Cross to South Eastern tracks and Metropolitan services running through to Sevenoaks would further increase the London Underground presence in Southeast London and West Kent (see Project Piccadilly for another envisaged connection to this part of the world). The reason for projecting this line over existing track rather than looking at a completely new route is that is one of the old lines, built to mainline specifications and its tunnels were built using the cut-and-cover method, which makes building new tunnel sections more problematic than for a deep-level tube line.

THE TRANSITION POINT

At this stage of proceedings, having seen the Metropolitan lines past, present and a possible vision for its future we are going to make a journey along the line as it is currently constituted, so fasten your seatbelts…

ALDGATE – BAKER STREET

This section has been covered in great detail in previous posts of mine:

BAKER STREET – FINCHLEY ROAD

This is the last underground segment of the Metropolitan line, and you can see the platforms and some of the signs of old stations which were closed when the Bakerloo line Stanmore branch opened in 1939. Just before emerging into the open air, the Metropolitan tracks diverge to make way for the emerging Jubilee (former Bakerloo) tracks. From the platform at Finchley Road one can see the 1939 tunnel end. As at other places where ‘tube’ and ‘subsurface’ trains enter tunnels close together there are protective mechanisms to prevent a subsurface level train that gets on the wrong tracks from reaching (and colliding with) the beginning of a tube tunnel.

FINCHLEY ROAD – WEMBLEY PARK

There are no fewer than five Jubilee line stations between these two, all originally served by the Metropolitan and hence with platforms at the ‘compromise’ height also seen where the Piccadilly shares tracks with the District and Metropolitan lines. The Metropolitan has four tracks between Finchley Road and Moor Park and this feature is used to enable trains to Amersham to skip stops – they go fast from Finchley Road to Harrow-on-the-Hill and then fast from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Moor Park. On the route used by Watford and Uxbridge trains (there are currently few through services to Chesham) the next stop is Wembley Park. Whichever route you are on this section features the highest speeds anywhere on London Underground, in the vicinity of 70mph.

Wembley Park is the local station for Wembley Stadium. Between those who think that England has no need for a single national football stadium and those who think that the national football stadium should be in the midlands Wembley has a lot of detractors. I have sympathy with both the camps mentioned in the previous paragraph – I would not have gone for a national football stadium but even accepting the need for such, the midlands would have been the place to build it. I did get to the original Wembley once, to attend a mass given by the then pope, John Paul II.

WEMBLEY PARK TO HARROW-ON-THE-HILL

There are two intermediate stations between these two, Preston Road, which has been served since 1908 and Northwick Park, which opened only in 1923.By comparison, Harrow-on-the-Hill opened in 1880. Harrow-on-the-Hill is the first stop on the line from Marylebone to Aylesbury and it is also the point at which the Uxbridge branch of the Metropolitan diverges from the rest.

THE UXBRIDGE BRANCH

For more detail on this branch please consult Project Piccadilly. Rayners Lane, where the two lines converge for the run to Uxbridge is one of only two direct interchanges between the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines, the other being at that vast node point, King’s Cross St Pancras.

HARROW-ON-THE-HILL TO MOOR PARK

Amersham trains, as mentioned above, run non-stop between these two stations. Watford trains call on the way at North Harrow, Pinner, Northwood Hills (where Bodilsen UK had one of their shops when I worked for them as a data input clerk) and Northwood. Of these four stations, only Pinner (1885) dates from when the track was laid down, the others being later additions. Moor Park itself only opened in 1910, originally as Sandy Lodge, which became Moor Park & Sandy Lodge in 1923 and Moor Park in 1950. Moor Park marks the end of the section on which there is a division between slow and fast services. In the days before it was considered necessary to include all London Underground stations in travel card zones, Moor Park was the outermost station on the Metropolitan which could be legally visited on a travel card (the only other section of London Underground to be outside the travel card zones was the eastern end of the Central line, where the boundary station was Loughton). The other point of significance about Moor Park is that it is the divergence point for the…

WATFORD BRANCH

Just two stations, Croxley and Watford, both opened in 1925. Croxley is less than 200 yards from Croxley Green, terminus of a minor side branch of the mainline railway from Watford Junction. This has given rise to various proposals involving linking the Metropolitan to Watford Junction. My own speculative scheme is for this branch, and the Croxley Green branch to form part of the northern leg of the London Orbital Railway, along with the Amersham branch, making use of the Rickmansworth-Watford curve, and another underused branch line between Watford and St Albans. For more on this part of the world I recommend F W Goudie and Douglas Stuckey’s book “West of Watford: Watford Metropolitan & the L.M.S Croxley Green and Rickmansworth branches. Also, do check out my post on Watford and Watford Junction.

A fine account of public transport in the Watford area.
A fine account of public transport in the Watford area.

RICKMANSWORTH

Rickmansworth opened in 1887, and in 1925 link from Rickmansworth to Croxley on the Watford branch was opened, and subsequently closed in 1960. Rickmansworth is also the outermost station on the Metropolitan to have been shown on Henry C Beck’s first attempt at a schematic diagram of London Underground (one of the great design coups of the 20th century).

Henry C Beck's first schematic diagram of London Underground.
Henry C Beck’s first schematic diagram of London Underground.

RICKMANSWORTH – CHALFONT & LATIMER

This section opened in 1889, with one intermediate station at Chorleywood. These days Chalfont & Latimer has two services running from it: through services from Aldgate to Amersham and a shuttle service to and from Chesham. Ironically given that it now has the minor role, Chesham opened first in 1889. In 1989 to celebrate the centenary a steam service ran through to Chesham, starting from Baker Street.

THE CHESHAM SHUTTLE

It took 50 years from the idea first being mooted for Chesham to acquire a train service. Edward Watkin, under whose aegis the line was opened envisaged a further northern extension making use of a natural gap in the Chilterns to connect with London and North Western (as it was in those days) at Tring. Further information about the Chesham branch and its history can  be found in Clive Foxell’s book “The Chesham Shuttle”. The journey from Chalfont & Latimer to Chesham is the longest single stop journey on the system at 3.89 miles (a mere 24.3 times the length of the shortest, from Leicester Square to Covent Garden).

Foxell

AMERSHAM

This is the end of our journey along the current Metropolitan line. It is the highest point above sea level anywhere on the system, 500 feet up in the Chilterns. Beyond here, the current main line continues to Great Missenden, Wendover, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway.

AFTERWORD

I hope you have enjoyed the ride so far. I will finish this post by making one final reference to my future vision of public transport in and around London, and the role of the Metropolitan in it. Given the closeness of its integration with the London Orbital Railway Network, and the fact that my envisaged south eastern extension utilizes London Overground, and that it would make sense for the London Orbital Railway to form the outer limits of the London Overground network, I could see the Metropolitan line being subsumed completely into a greatly expanded London Overground network, meaning either that the Metropolitan line would disappear from London Underground maps or that the Hammersmith and City line, which contains the entire surviving portion of the original Metropolitan Railway should be renamed the Metropolitan in deference to its history. Here a couple of map pics to finish, one a heavily edited shot from the Diagrammatic History an one showing the current Metropolitan line’s connections.

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