Between King’s Cross and Uxbridge on the Metropolitan Line

INTRODUCTION

I made this journey a week ago en route to the Anna Kennedy Autism Expo at Brunel University. The journey divides naturally into several segments…

KING’S CROSS TO GREAT PORTLAND STREET

For this section of the route the Metropolitan line shares tracks with the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines, although on the day I travelled it those latter two lines were closed west of Baker Street, one reason why I did not have to wait long for a train to Uxbridge.

BAKER STREET TO FINCHLEY ROAD

For this section of the route the Metropolitan is directly above the Jubilee line (the Jubilee rises to the surface just beforc Finchley Road, and it and the Metropolitan run together for a time thereafter).

FINCHLEY ROAD TO WEMBLEY PARK

This is the section where the Metropolitan and Jubilee lines run side by side, tjhe Jubilee stopping at intermediate stations while the Metropolitan runs non-stop between Finchley Road and Wembley Park (with some ‘fast’ services running non-stop all the way to Harrow-on-the-Hill).

WEMBLEY PARK TO RAYNERS LANE

This is the section that is Metropolitan line only (with a connection to Chiltern Railways at Harrow-on-the-Hill).

RAYNERS LANE TO UXBRIDGE

This branch is shared by the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines (the Piccadilly having taken over the running of Uxbridge services from the District line in the 1930s). 

Shared Space Roads

INTRODUCTION

All of this post bar this introduction has appeared on aspi.blog a few moments ago. Because the road at the heart of it all is Exhbition Road, London, close to both South Kensington and Gloucester Road (each served by the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines) I am also posting it here. Here is a satellite view of the area:

WHAT IS A SHARED SPACE ROAD?

A shared space road is a road without pavements, with no clear distinctions between where cars, cyclists and pedestrians should be. According to some this arrangement reduces accidents. However, a recent incident on London’s Exhibition Road has called this into question. Here is a tweet from campaign group Transport for All:

This (to me) raises two questions to be taken in turn:

CAN SHARED SPACE ROADS WORK?

I am uncertain on this one and will welcome evidence from people with experience of shared space roads in their localities. My own view is that they could work but the following is necessary:

  • Clear signage explaining what a shared space road is and what that means.
  • A very low speed limit for motor vehicles (even lower than the 20mph which is now commonplace in the vicinity of schools) fiercely enforced – speeding on a shared space street should be punished more severely than speeding elsewhere because of the greater risk of hitting someone.
  • Referring back to my first bullet point it needs to made clear that motorists are always expected to give way to cyclists and pedestrians.

Given what I know of London drivers I do not think that London is the right city to be trialling these (although Rome and Paris would both clearly by even worse options!)

SHOULD EXHIBITION ROAD
BE A SHARED SPACE ROAD?

Absolutely not – it should be completely pedestrianised. There are excellent public transport connections in this part of the world.

Mile End

INTRODUCTION

This post looks at one of the more distinctive stations on the system. I have some good illustrations for you.

THE HISTORY

The original station was opened in 19o2 serving the District line, as that line expanded east. In 1936 services on what was then the Hammersmith & City section of the Metropolitan line started calling there as that route was extended along the line of the District to Barking. Finally, in 1946, as part of an extension to enable Central line trains to run over former Great Eastern Railway tracks to Ongar, that line came to Mile End in 1946. This history creates a…

UNIQUE INTERCHANGE

Mile End is the only place you can make a cross-platform underground interchange between a ‘tube’ railway (the Central) and a ‘subsurface’ railway (District or Hammersmith & City). All other situations where this is possible (e.g District & Piccadilly at Barons Court are surface level stations).

STEP-FREE ACCESS: A PETITION

Although much progress has been made in recent years, London Underground is still a long way from being fully accessible to disabled people (and that is an understatement – see here), and one station that at present falls short is Mile End, which is the subject of this petition, which I have previously shared here.

UNIVERSITY AND ILLUSTRATIONS

Just before showing you the pictures, Mile End is home to Queen Mary University. Now for the pictures…

Modern connections around Mile End
Modern connections around Mile End
The history.
The history.
An image of the station front, courtesy of google maps.
An image of the station front, courtesy of google maps.
Mile End on Google Earth
Mile End on Google Earth

Epping – Gateway to London

INTRODUCTION

This post focuses on a single station. The idea developed from a conversation with a work colleague in which trips to London were mentioned and he explained that with a family of four it was cheaper to drive to Epping, stay overnight at a hotel there and use London Underground from there than to travel by train.

THE NORTHEASTERN CORNER

Epping, first served by London Underground in 1940 (the whole stretch of the Central line beyond Stratford started life as Great Eastern Railway branch line, and Loughton, three stops south of Epping, still has its Victorian era GER building), is now the north-eastern limit of the system (more of this later, and also see the speculative section of the piece about the central line). There is cheap hotel accommodation close to the station, which means the for folk who would naturally approach the city from the northeast and drive it is a good place to choose as a base for a visit to the capital. Because of its interchanges with every other line on the system the central line is a good one to be based on, as Danny Dorling in “The 32 Stops”, the best of the penguin series celebrating the 150th anniversary of London Underground, points out. A few examples of major attractions and the necessary connections follow:

  • The museums of South Kensington (either change at Mile End to the District or at Holborn to the Piccadilly according to choice, bonus tip: take a picnic with you and lunch in Hyde Park).
  • Maritime Greenwich – change at Stratford to the Docklands Light Railway and choose one of two possibilities:
    1)Alight at Island Gardens and take the foot tunnel to the Greenwich side of the Thames, returning to Greenwich having finished your explorations or…
    2)Unimaginatively alight at Cutty Sark to start your explorations there.
  • The British Museum – no changes needed as Tottenham Court Road is only a few hundred yards away.
  • Wembley Stadium – change at Stratford to the Jubilee or at Liverpool Street to the Metropolitan
  • The South Bank Centre – change at Tottenham Court Road to the Northern and go south to Embankment, strolling across the Thames from there (this is definitely quicker than travelling the extra stop to Waterloo).

At the moment Epping is at the outside edge of fare zone 6, although London mayoral candidate Sian Berry has an excellent idea that will change this – see the following:

  1. Sian’s own piece
  2. This Evening Standard article
  3. This piece about the debate on fares.
  4. The Fair Fares campaign

Having detailed Epping’s value as a base our next section looks at…

THINGS TO DO IN EPPING

I mentioned earlier that Epping was not always the end of the line. Until 1994 the line ran to Ongar, although the section between Epping and Ongar was run as a shuttle service, making it feel very isolated. It is this that is at the centre of Epping based activities. There is a walking route from Epping to Ongar as detailed in “Country Walks Around London”, walk 12. This walk is 5 miles in length, meaning that an energetic person could choose to do it both ways.

DSCN9310 DSCN9311

However, there is also an alternative way of doing the same route, namely making use of the Epping-Ongar Railway, the longest heritage railway in Essex. Thus, if you want to explore this area that used by served by London Underground (and the village of Chipping Ongar is certainly worth a visit) you have a raft of options according to your energy levels:

  • Walk both ways
  • Walk out, Epping and Ongar Railway back
  • Epping and Ongar railway out, walk back
  • Epping and Ongar railway both ways

MAPS AND DIAGRAMS

Here are some pictures to help put Epping in context…

The Diagrammatic History
The Diagrammatic History
Epping today
Epping today
The map from which this picture comes is over 100 years old.
The map from which this picture comes is over 100 years old.
The London & Suburbs section ends at Woodford, which Danny Dorling echoed over a century later in The 32 Stops.
The London & Suburbs section ends at Woodford, which Danny Dorling echoed over a century later in The 32 Stops.
The first of two Google earth views
The first of two Google earth views

Epping2

This map featured in an article detailing the fact that London Overground will now run all suburban rail services in the capital.
This map featured in an article detailing the fact that London Overground will now run all suburban rail services in the capital.

 

A Pack of Playing Cards

INTRODUCTION

It has been a while since I last posted on this site due it being Christmas. During the Christmas period itself I stayed with my parents and sundry other family members in East Rudham (from the 24th to the 28th to be exact, there being no public transport on the 25th and 26th – which I wholeheartedly agree with – and the 27th being a Sunday), and I chose to not to take my computer with me. Appropriately my return to action on this site has to do with a Christmas present.

AN UNEXPECTED GIFT

This present was unexpected in two ways – I had no idea that I would be getting it, and it came from someone who I had not expected to get me a present in any case. The purchaser of the present (my cousin Amanda) had not been going to get me anything until she saw this item. It was a set of playing cards in an aluminium box, and on the front of the box and also on the back of each individual card was an extract from the London Underground map! A wonderful choice of present.

The playing cards are a little indistinct in this picture.
The playing cards are a little indistinct in this picture.
So i also took this one focussing specifically on the cards.
So i also took this one focussing specifically on the cards.
This picture has been further adapted to include the name of the station that is there but not named.
This picture has been further adapted to include the name of the station that is there but not named.

AN UNUSUAL FEATURE FOR AN ENGLISH PACK OF CARDS

Aside from the pattern, and the box in which they come there is one other unusual feature about this pack as compared to a standard English pack – the first picture below is the ace of spades from this pack, while the second is the same card from a pack of Waddington’s no 1s…

An unadorned ace of spades.
An unadorned ace of spades.
The traditional English ace of spades - the reason for this fancy card is that back in the day playing cards were heavily taxed, and manufacturers were only allowed to make 51 of the playing cards, receiving the ace of spades to complete the deck once they had paid the tax.
The traditional English ace of spades – the reason for this fancy card is that back in the day playing cards were heavily taxed, and manufacturers were only allowed to make 51 of the playing cards, receiving the ace of spades to complete the deck once they had paid the tax.

 

South Kensington

INTRODUCTION

The first piece of writing I offered the public about London Underground was a blog post about this station. From that start grew this website, I now produce a new piece about…

DSCN8047

THE HISTORY

In 1868, The Metropolitan District Railway was opened as a partner to the Metropolitan Railway, with the intention of among other things creating an ‘Inner Circle’ linking all of central London’s main destinations. Due to frequent squabbles between the two organisations it was 16 years before the circle was completed. A legacy of this fractious beginning can be seen in the now unused bay platform that was created for the use of Metropolitan Railway trains. In 1906 the deep-level part of the station opened, when an amalgamation of parts of three proposed schemes opened running between Finsbury Park and Hammersmith (this is the nucleus of the modern Piccadilly line, since extended north to Cockfosters and having subsumed the Uxbridge and Hounslow branches of the District).

DSCN8050 DSCN8052

MUSEUM MEDLEY

The chief point of interest of this station’s location are the museums which are close by. This is recognised in the presence of an underground passage from the ticket hall to Exhibition Road, with exits at the appropriate point for each museum. The number of museums in this area has reduced by one since I was a child because the Geological and Natural History museums were amalgamated to form one giant museum. There are now three major museums in this area:

what's on

The Natural History Museum

The Science Museum

V&A

The Victoria and Albert Museum

THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF MUSIC

The Royal College of Music is based on Prince Consort Road, very close to the Albert Hall, just south of Hyde Park. I have a map which makes it’s relevance to this station very obvious. Yet another famous place in this area.

RCM

A COUPLE OF ARCHITECTURAL QUIRKS

For those who shun the underground passageway referred to above, there is a small shopping arcade of the type that many London Underground stations used to have, and some attractive 1868 ironwork to have a look at.

SKA

Ironwork

MAPS – ANCIENT & MODERN

I conclude this  post with some maps showing the station’s history and modern connections…

DSCN8048 DSCN8049

The July 2015 London Underground map.
The July 2015 London Underground map.
A North-South biased extract.
A North-South biased extract.
An East-West biased extract.
An East-West biased extract.