As well as various presents I received a significant amount of cash this Christmas, and one of the things (there is still one more to come) that I bought with this cash was the book “No Need to Ask!”, which I ordered from Stanford’s. This can be thought of as a prequel to “Mr Beck’s Underground Map“, which tells the story of the schematic diagram the came to dominate the public transport world. “No Need to Ask!” (the title comes from the PR campaign around one of the earliest of the maps, which featured a poster of policeman pointing at the map and the caption “no need to ask a p’liceman”.
A TREASURE TROVE OF MAPS
As you might imagine, 68 of years of history and development (1863-1931, when Mr Beck unveiled his diagram) provided a lot of opportunities for map makers. Having set the scene, save for a few final words at the end the rest of this post is going to consist of pictures to give you a feel of the book.
These maps all give particular emphasis to the Metropolitan and/or District lines – the next set I offer you changes the focus…
We end this section with a juxtaposition of the last pre-Beck effort, a pure geographical effort of similar vintage and the original Beck diagram…
GETTING HOLD OF THE BOOK
The book can be ordered from Stanfords for £12.95. Delivery charges and times vary according to where in the world you are located – further details available on website.
Yes – another book that relates to the history (or in this case prehistory) of London Underground.
A RATTLING GOOD READ
Most of the action takes place in the years 1859-62, during which construction work is taking place on the Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground railway, and Mr Joseph William Bazalgette’s greatest work, a complete overhaul of London’s sewer system is just starting (it will take until 1870 to complete).
The action starts with the destruction of a colossal clock that was to have been part of the new London and North Western Railway, and ends with a journey along the newly opened Metropolitan.
The title character’s researches take him to the reading room at the British Library, bringing the Marx family in to the story, albeit in a walk-on role.
I personally found the characterisation of the Euston Bugle and its chief reporter highly amusing – and unmistakably accurate. At the start of the story, when the Great Western Railway who are their main shareholders are not due to have a stake in the new underground railway they are vehemently opposed to it, but then when an agreement is brokered that gives the GWR running powers over the tracks in exchange for supplying locomotives (and the Met was built to take broad as well as standard gauge locomotives, and its first locomotives were indeed supplied by the GWR), they become the world’s no 1 supporters of the new underground railway.
All in all, William Sutton’s book is a great success, and I once again thank Norfolk Libraries for enabling to me to access this and many other fine books.
For those who prefer buying to borrowing, the book can be obtained from book depository with free worldwide delivery for £7.99
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).
Welcome to the latest installment in my series “London Station by Station“. I hope that you will enjoy this post and be encouraged to share it.
THE ULTIMATE IN TRANSPORT NODES
A SOUPCON OF HISTORY
Victoria Underground station first opened as part of the Metropolitan District Railway in 1868. The construction of this of the system was combined with the building of the Victoria Embankment, and was designed and overseen by Joseph William Bazelgette who was also responsible for the design of London’s sewer system. Peter Bazalgette, the TV producer who has a bridge programme from the 1980s to his credit and Big Brother to his debit is a great-great nephew of Joseph William.
The infighting between the Metropolitan District (now the District line) and it’s supposed senior partner the Metropolitan meant that the Inner Circle (now the Circle line), the other line to serve these platforms was not completed until 1884.
In spite of giving its name to the line in question, Victoria was not one of the original Victoria line stations, opening as part of the second of three tranches in 1969, before the final section from Victoria to Brixton opened in 1971.
A PHILATELIC DIGRESSION
One of the quirks of the Victoria line is that every station features a pattern o a picture of some sort used as a motif. The pattern used at Victoria, is based on one of the most famous items to feature a picture of Queen Victoria, the 2d blue postage stamp. I do not have a picture of the London Underground pattern based on it to hand, but this was lot 682 in James and Sons’ May auction…
THE TRANSPORT HUB
Victoria is the most used station on the entire London Underground network. In excess of 60 million passenger journeys per year start or finish at this station. Victoria is a major train station, serving a wide variety of destinations to the South and East of London, including running the Gatwick Express, which connects to London’s second busiest airport. There is at the moment a bitter rivalry between Gatwick and Heathrow over who will get a new runway. My own view? Neither – do not build the thing at all – instead encourage people away from aeroplanes.
In addition to the train services there is Victoria Coach Station, from which you can reach most parts of the country, although some of the journey times are very long.
THE PHOTOGRAPHIC FINALE
As usual for these posts I have some map pictures…
Welcome to the latest post in my series “London Station by Station“. This one is a little bit of a departure from the standard because it takes in three separate stations. I hope that you will enjoy it and will be inspired to share it.
The triangle of the title has Gloucester Road, Earls Court and High Street Kensington at its corners. The first two stations are also served at tube level by the Piccadilly line. High Street Kensington and Gloucester Road both opened in 1868 under the aegis of The Metropolitan Railway. The first station was opened at Earls Court in 1871, and replaced with the present one in 1878. Both the Piccadilly stations were part of the original section of that line that opened in 1906.
The curve of track from Gloucester Road to High Street Kensington, now used exclusively by Circle line trains, plays a role in a Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Bruce Partington Plans, because at that time there were flats overlooking the line in that area, and Holmes was able to work out that the German agent Hugo Oberstein lived in one of them, and from that how the unfortunate Arthur Cadogan West had made his involuntary entrance to the underground system.
These days the land above triangle sidings is occupied by a Sainsbury;s supermarket.
The complexity of this section is largely down to Earls Court being the chief hub of the District line. Trains leave Earls Court going East to Upminster, North to Edgware Road, Northwest to Kensington Olympia, South to Wimbledon, West to Turnham Green, whence some services go south to Richmond and others continue West to Ealing Broadway. Platforms 1 and 2 carry trains to Upminster and Edgware Road, while all the other services, which for London Underground purposes are going in the opposite direction leave from platforms 3-4.
To finish this post I have some maps pics and a couple of photos from London Underground: The Official Handbook…