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 Piccadillyhaving taken over the running of Uxbridge services from the District line in the 1930s).
The inspiration for this post came from a post on estersblog, which I link to by way of one of her splendid pictures at the end of this introduction. I will briefly mention by name all the stations that are within walking distance of Greenwich proper (North Greenwich, in spite of the second part of it’s name does not count), then I will provide links to some of the main sites that Greenwich has to offer, and I will conclude by describing a hypothetical day trip from King’s Lynn, where I now live to Greenwich.
When the Docklands Light Railway first opened its southern terminus was Island Gardens, thought it has subsequently been extended south, via a new station at Cutty Sark to Lewisham. In addition to Island Gardens and Cutty Sark there are two mainline railway stations which are within walking distance of these attractions, Greenwich and Maze Hill. Having paid lip service to all four stations, and acknowledging the value of Cutty Sark station for those whose mobility is restricted, I serve notice that only two of these stations will receive further mention.
The whole area deserves to be explored properly, but here are four places particularly worthy of mention:
The Cutty Sark – how many ships get to have a station named in their honour? This tea clipper well repays a visit and is a good starting point. For more about this attraction click on the image below to visit the official website.
The Gipsy Moth pub. Right by the Cutty Sark is a high quality pub where you can take refreshment before heading off to the other attractions. Click the picture below to find out more at their website:
The National Maritime Museum – set in a lovely area of parkland that also includes my final attraction, this museum has added many new exhibits since my last visit. Click on the image below to visit their website:
Last but by no means least of the Greenwich fab four is the Royal Observatory which also now houses the London Planetarium (and if the latter is as good as it was in its Baker Street days you are in for a real treat). Click on the image below, which I took as part of my paid employment while imaging an old album that will be going under the hammer in James and Sons’ April auction, to visit the website:
A HYPOTHETICAL DAY TRIP FROM KING’S LYNN TO GREENWICH
While there is little to be done about the King’s Lynn to London and back element of the journey except hope that there are not too many disruptions, there are lots of public transport options for getting to and from Greenwich, and this section of the post gives a route with a couple of variations that involves no going back the way we came.
Alighting at King’s Cross, I would head down to the Northern line platforms and get a southbound train to Bank, where I would change to the Docklands Light Railway and travel to Island Gardens (not Cutty Sark), from where I would start the pedestrian section of my journey. Alighting at Island Gardens, no longer satisfactory as in the days of the original elevated terminus, I would pass under the Thames, by way of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to arrive at my first attraction, the Cutty Sark.
Once I had finished looking round the Cutty Sark I would head to the nearby Gipsy Moth pub for a pint of something decent before heading to the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory in that order. If possible I would sample the Planetarium while there.
For the journey back to King’s Cross I would head to Greenwich railway station, take a train to London Bridge, where I would head for the Jubilee line and catch a train heading in the direction of Stanmore. There are three possibilities for completing the circuit to King’s Cross from here:
The quickest option, but also the one I would be least likely to take, would be to change at Green Park to the Victoria line (the interchange is long and often unpleasantly crowded, as is the equally possible interchange to the Piccadilly line at this same station) and travel north to King’s Cross.
The middle option, and the one that I would be likeliest to take, is to travel along the Jubilee line as far as Baker Street and then ascend the escalator to the Metropolitan/ Circle/ Hammersmith and City line platforms, travelling east from there to King’s Cross.
If time allowed and I was feeling so inclined I might stay on the Jubilee line until Finchley Road and make the cross-platform interchange to the Metropolitan line there.
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:
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.
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 GREYVIA 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 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.
This post features a hub station which is also close to numerous attractions.
Like all of London’s major railway stations this one has its origins in the mid 19th century. This map shows London Bridge and its connections in 1897…
In 1900 The City & South London Railway, the world’s first deep level ‘tube’ railway abandoned its badly sited King William Street terminus and opened three new stations at its northern end, London Bridge, Bank and Moorgate (for more about the subsequent history of this railway and what it became click here. In 1999, delayed and warped out of recognition by the greed and vanity of successive governments, the Jubilee line opened its long-awaited extension, one of the new stations on which was London Bridge. London Bridge was until recently part of the Thameslink route but is no longer so. These days there is an interchange available to Transport for London’s Riverboat Service as well.
There are two major attractions served by London Bridge. HMS Belfast is a historic warship, which for many years has been a floating museum (I visited several times as a child) and is now run under the aegis of the Imperial War Museum. The second attraction is the London Dungeon, which occupies what was once the notorious Clink Street Prison (from which the phrase ‘in the clink’ for ‘in prison’ comes) and styles itself London’s most frightening place.
London Bridge is ideally placed as a starting and/or finishing point for walks along the Thames. Westward as far as Waterloo is all good walking, while eastward lie Maritime Greenwich and, for the seriously energetic, Woolwich. This, from 100 Walks in Greater London, is a recommneded walk featuring some of what I have just mentioned…
Note that the Museum of the Moving Image has closed down since this book was produced.
AN AUCTION LOT
This, conveniently tallying with the theme of this post, is lot 604 in James and Sons‘ March Auction (two day sale, 30th and 31st March at Fakenham Racecourse – this item will be going under the hammer early in the second day)…
A FEW MAPS
I conclude this post with two map pictures, one from the Diagrammatic History and one from a modern London Connections Map…
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.
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.
One possibility would be a connection toCentral 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.
Time now for a journey along the current Jubilee line, starting at…
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.
This station has an interchange with the Docklands Light Railway. This station has some interesting stuff on display related to the area’s history…
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.
Interchange with the Docklands Light Railway, and one half of the reason why the Jubilee line was not extended in a sensible direction.
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.
The first station we reach that offers no interchanges.
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.
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.
This station has been covered in vast detail in my post on the Bakerloo line, to which I commend your attention.
For more on this station please visit my post on the District line.
Interchanges with the Victoriaand Piccadilly lines, albeit over substantial distances. The station is notable for leaf patterned tiling on the walls.
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).
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:
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.
The last station before the line rises to the surface.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The fourth of five intermediate stations at which Metropolitan line trains do not call although they go past it.
Nowadays a very minor station, but still the site of a very major depot (second only to Ruislip on the entire system).
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…
For the first time since Swiss Cottage a station at which only Jubilee line trains are seen.
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.
The second to last station on our journey, and decidedly rural in appearance.
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.
I conclude this post with some map pictures that should help to tell the story of the Jubilee line…
The remaining pictures all come from the Diagrammatic History and aim to make the history od the line clear…
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.
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).
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…
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).
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:
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…
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
Previously I have limited this series to coverage of individual stations, but now I am introducing something new – full line coverage in single posts. I will give a brief glimpse of this history the line and then a little journey from west to east along the current line. I hope you all enjoy this.
THE GREAT ORIGINAL
On January the 10th 1863 the history of public transport changed forever. It was then, having been constructed at the urging of city solicitor Charles Pearson in conjunction with a major road building scheme, that the world’s first underground railway, The Metropolitan Railway, opened for business. It covered just seven stops (about one fortieth of the number now served by London Underground) from Bishop’s Road (Paddington) to Farringdon Street (a little to the south of present day Farringdon). Only one line serves all of the surviving original stations (the circle and district station at Paddington is a later creation, originally called Praed Street), and that is the Hammersmith and City line. Although this was only officially separated from the Metropolitan line in 1990, it makes sense for the purposes of this section to talk about all the branches the relate to this section as though it had always been separate. Viewed in this way, there were a total of three branches that are no longer served:
Latimer Road to Kensington (Addison Road), which latter station is now called Kensington Olympia – the London Underground connection to it from the north was severed in 1940 and has never been reinstated. Goldhawk Road to Richmond, which was served between 1877 and 1906. The only station which was completely lost as a result of the cutting of this connection was Hammersmith (Grove Road). The final connection was a track connection via a long since defunct station called St Mary’s to Shadwell on what used to be the East London line and is now part of London Overground, though deeper below the surface than any of the remaining ‘subsurface’ stations on London Underground.
Before moving on to the journey, here are a couple of map pics…
I am not going to cover every station – just those that have a particular association for me. Those who have read previous posts of mine about this subject will be aware that I was disgusted by Philippe Parreno’s failure to meet the brief (in my eyes) for his contribution to Penguin’s 150th anniversary series of books when he got this line and produced a book that contained no words, just a series of very ethereal pictures which bore little apparent relation to the subject.
There is a shopping centre here, also the Lyric theatre, and although I mentioned him in piece on Baron’s Court, you are withing easy walking distance of St Paul’s Girls School, where Gustav Holst was once director of music.
It was from this station that the line to what is now Kensington Olympia diverged, and because this is an elevated section, track heading towards Olympia is clearly visible from the train as you travel past here.
This is the only one of the London mainline railway termini where a London Underground line is structurally part of the station. This dates to the original opening of the Metropolitan railway in 1863, when they used locomotives supplied by the Great Western Railway before falling out with that company and switching to stock supplied by the Great Northern before finally developing some of their own.
This is where the Circle line and a spur of the District meet the Hammersmith and City line (the District and Circle “Paddington” represents a decent interchange to the Bakerloo, but for the Hammersmith and City you are much better off travelling the extra stop to Edgware Road and making a cross-platform interchange.
The Hammersmith and City line platforms here (nos 5 and 6 out of a total of 10) have been restored to look as they did in 1863. This is also home to Madame Tussauds, The Planetarium and of course it is where the world’s first consulting detective had his practice.
As well as being across the road from London’s first mainline railway terminal (Euston), this is the home station for University College London (UCL for short). Just round the corner from this station is Warren Street (Northern and Victoria lines), and a view at surface level that includes both the BT Tower and Centrepoint.
KINGS CROSS ST PANCRAS
At the surface a complete contrast in styles between the ‘fairytale castle’ that is St Pancras and the largely anonymous Kings Cross. The train from King’s Lynn to London terminates at King’s Cross, usually in the ‘side’ section that comprises platforms 8-11. It is here that claims to be the site for platform 9 3/4 from which the Hogwarts Express departs.
A cross-platform interchange to Thameslink services running between Bedford and Brighton. When I worked at Interpretations I used this station regularly. I also recall this area as home to the Betsey Trotwood, a pub that combined two things I love – Dickens and Real Ale.
This station opened as Aldersgate Street, then became Aldersgate before finally getting its present name of Barbican. This is one of the venues where I listened to live classical music when I lived in London. I also saw various Royal Shakespeare Company productions here.
There is a terminus here for mainline trains coming in from Finsbury Park, and there used to be a spur of Thameslink to here as well, but all of these were below the surface here, so there have never been any above ground tracks. With my home station being Tooting Bec, I used the Northern line platforms here more often than the others. Although St Pauls on the Central line is closer, I used to use this station on occasion to visit the Museum of London – accessible from there by way of the Barbican Centre.
An interchange to mainline railways, and also to the Central line. Also the point at which the Hammersmith and City diverges from the Circle and Metropolitan lines which go to Aldgate, while the Hammersmith and City heads to…
This is where the Hammersmith and City and District lines meet, and from the platforms here you can see Circle and Metropolitan line trains heading in to Aldgate as well. It was just beyond this station that a side branch used to diverge to St Mary’s and Shadwell, joining what was then the East London Railway, has subsequently been the East London line of London Underground and is now a section of London Overground.
An interchange between the District and Hammersmith and City lines and London Overground. Currently in the news because a museum supposed to be dedicated to women was actually a Jack the Ripper museum, which led to a petition and a project to create a museum that really is dedicated to the women of the East end.
The only underground cross-platform interchange between a deep-level tube line and subsurface lines on the entire system. This station also has large enamelled maps from times past featuring the Metorpolitan and District lines.
Interchanges with mainline railways, London Overground, The Jubilee Line and the Docklands Light Railway (this branch has taken over Stratford-North Woolwich, which was previously on Silverlink Metro (London Overground’s predecessor) with the addition of a trans-Thames extension to Woolwich Arsenal).
This is the eastern end of the Hammersmith and City line, although the District continues to Upminster (logic would seem to suggest that the H&C with far less to the west than the District should do the longer haul east rather than vice versa). This station has interchanges with main line railways (to Southend and Shoeburyness) and London Overground (a branch line the other end of which is at Gospel Oak).