The good folk at the Museum of London, easily walkable from St Pauls (Central line) and Moorgate (Northern, Circle, Hammersmith and City, Metropolitanand mainline railways) are running an exhibition on the the archaeology of the Elizabeth line, which is built on an East-West axis through London and because of its depth also cuts vertically through millennia of fascinating history. As an introduction to this new exhibition they have produced a spectacular…
A FINAL LINK
For more about this fascinating new exhibition and about tunnel archaeology please visit the appropriate page on the Museum ofLondon’s website by clicking here.
In this post I will talking about a well known London attraction and giving some information about its transport connections.
This museum contains artefacts from the whole of London’s history and has some stuff from longer ago than that. I visited this museum many times when I lived in London. I will mention three highlights, a window that looks out on to a section of the Roman walls, a cross section of a street from the surface downwards, showing where stuff of various ages is to be found and the Lord Mayor of London’s carriage, which is on display there except when it is out on parade. This latter gives me on opportunity to advertise publicly a London Transport themed poster which is lot 737 in James and Sons’ October auction (Wednesday 26th, The Maids Head Hotel, Norwich – starts at 10AM, so this item will go under the hammer at about 3PM, if you would like to bid online click here).
PUBLIC TRANSPORT CONNECTIONS FOR THE MUSEUM OF LONON
This post will finish with a map showing where the museum is located. It is effectively in the centre of a triangle formed by Barbican (Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City, Circle), Moorgate (Northern, Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City, Circle, mainline railways) and St Paul’s (Central). For those visiting from outside London, according to where you arrive my suggestions would be as follows:
Euston – choose between heading for the Northern line, Bank branch and travelling to Moorgate or crossing Euston Road to Euston Square station and getting an eastbound train to Barbican.
Marylebone – take the short walk to Baker Street and get and eastbound train to Barbican
Paddington – head for the Hammersmith and City line platforms, which are structurally part of the main station and get an eastbound train to Barbican (do not be tempted by the District and Circle line platforms, which are so far distant that they should not be classed as part of the same station).
If you arrive by coach: some inbound coaches to London call at Marble Arch, in which case you can take an eastbound Central line train to St Pauls, otherwise you will arrive at Victoria Coach Station, in which case…
Victoria – while you could travel round the Circle line it would be quicker to take the Victoria line to King’s Cross and change, either to get a Hammersmith & City/ Circle/ Metropolitan train to Barbican or a Northern line train to Moorgate.
Waterloo/Waterloo East/ Charing Cross: another two way choice – the Jubilee line to Baker Street and change to an eastbound train to Barbican or take the Waterloo & City to Bank and change to the Northern or Central lines for the journey to St Pauls or Moorgate respectively. Please note that given that the station there is on the wrong branch of the Northern and the Bakerloo lines you are indubitably better off walking across the Thames to Waterloo to begin your underground journey (although north along to the northern to Tottenham Court Road and changing to the Central line is a possibility).
London Bridge: Northern to Moorgate (a mere two stops, definitely not worth changing to the Central at Bank, especially given the labyrinthine layout of that station).
Fenchurch Street: get a Circle line train round to Moorgate (you do not save enough walking time for the extra stop to Barbican to be worth it).
Liverpool Street: you could simply walk from here, but a westbound Circle/Metropolitan/ Hammersmith & City line train to Moorgate is also a possible (the descent to the Central line is not worthwhile IMO).
Moorgate: you are already there, but there is a point of interest – the section of line from Finsbury Park to Moorgate has twice been part of London Underground, once administered as part of the Metropolitan line and once as part of the Northern line.
This post will cover the Northern line, and as such it is going to be somewhat convoluted.
ORDER DECREASES OVER TIME
This section of the post deals with the history of the Northern line. The title above, which makes reference to the laws of thermodynamics is apposite for this line which has certainly become more disordered over its history.
THE CITY AND SOUTH LONDON RAILWAY
On December 18th 1890 a new development in public transport history occurred. The development of electric traction allowed use to be made of the comparative ease of tunnelling through the blue clay that lies beneath London to build deep level railways, called tubes because of the tunnelling method used. The City and South London Railway, running from Stockwell to King William Street with intermediate stations at Oval, Kennington, Elephant & Castle and Borough.
In 1900 the King William Street terminus was abandoned in favour of new stations at London Bridge, Bank and Moorgate, while the line was also extended south to Clapham North and Clapham Common. In 1903 the line was extended to Old Street and Angel.
THE CHARING CROSS, EUSTON & HAMPSTEAD RAILWAY
This line was opened in 1907, ending the great tube building boom of 1905-7 which also saw the genesis of the Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines. It ran from Charing Cross to Golders Green with a branch to Highgate, the bifurcation point being Camden Town. The City and South London was extended to King’s Cross and Euston. Plans for an amalgamation were already developing.
THE NORTHERN CITY LINE
This was the original designation of what is now a section of mainline railway in tube tunnels running from Finsbury Park to Moorgate. This section of track opened in 1904, originally operated by the Metropolitan but a part of the Northern line for many years.
AMALGAMATION AND PLANS NOT COMPLETED
The 1920s saw a combination of the final amalgamation of the City & South London with the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead, with the latter being extended south to Kennington as part of the process. The complete line was extended to Morden, still the southern outpost of the system, in 1926. It was also in this period that the Northern line took over the Northen City section mentioned above, and that suburban branches of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) were subsumed, extending the northern termini to Mill Hill East, High Barnet and Edgware. As this map section makes clear, there were further plans that were never fulfilled.
At Edgware tunnels north of the station where the line was to have been extended are still visible. The last big change to affect the northern line was when the Northern City section became part of the mainline railway network in the 1970s.
Having looked at the past, it is time for a look to the future. Firstly, although I am normally a big fan of integration, I would split the northern line, so that there would be one line running from High Barnet to Morden via Bank, with a branch to Mill Hill East, and the other running from Edgware to Kennington via Charing Cross.
This line, comprising the Edgware and Charing Cross branches would be extended south from Kennington to East Croydon and on to Gatwick Airport, going via Brixton and Streatham among other places. Beyond Edgware, the line would go to Stonegrove, Newlands, Elstree High Street, Letchmore Heath, Aldenham and Garston, at which point it would share the Jubilee line route north to Hemel Hemsptead. There would also be a branch from Elstree High Street to Elstree and Borehamwood and then following the Thameslink route as far as Luton Airport Parkway.
HIGH BARNET – MORDEN
From High Barnet the line would go to Monken Hadley, Saffron Green, Well End, Shenley, Radlett and St Albans, possibly the running north to Luton Airport Parkway.
From Morden the line would extend south to Morden South, St Helier, North Cheam, Stoneleigh, Ewell West and Leatherhead, from where it would follow the existing route to Dorking.
Finally, the Mill Hill branch would be extended to Mill Hill Broadway, Edgware and Stanmore, from whence it could follow the Jubilee to Hemel Hempstead.
CONTINUED CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THE LINES
These lines while separate entities, would still of course be closely connected, with interchanges agt Kennington and Camden Town, and new connections at St Albans and Edgware, but the scope of their services would be greatly extended without the complications the arise from all the branching the currently exists. Also of course, the track connections at Kennington and Camden Town would be preserved for stock transfer purposes.
THE NORTHERN LINE TODAY
Our journey will run from Morden to High Barnet via Bank, with a diversion to Mill Hill East, before we bounce back to Waterloo and head north from there to Edgware. So with the itinerary set out we begin at…
The current southern outpost of the system, and the only station at the southern end of the Northern line to be open to the elements. The station building, like all of those we will meet until Clapham South, is faced in Portland Stone. Here is a picture of this station under construction for you…
Morden is also one of the two end points of the Wandle Trail (the other is Mitcham Junction station).
Leaving Morden, we enter the longest continuous section of tunnel on the system, 17.3 miles via Bank to Finchley Central. The first station we arrive it in this section of tunnel is South Wimbledon. The surface building has a curved frontage. A short walk in one direction takes one to Wimbledon Station and many potential routes. Another route from the station crosses Croydon Tramlink, emerging at Wimbledon Chase (the station name is reflective of the pernicious practice called hunting).
This station has a ‘three-eighths of an octagon’ type frontage. Near here is the Sava Centre, a Sainsbury’s hypermarket. It was at a pub close to this station that I watched the first part of the coverage of the 1997 General Election, the first in which I was eligible to vote.
The first of two stations to have Tooting in their name. Like South Wimbledon this station has a curved frontage. It is built on top of a subterranean lake. Not far from this station is Graveney School, which regularly supplies ball boys and girls for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, and which I attended between 1986 and 1993. Also close to this station is the Sree Krishna, a high quality Indian Restaurant.
My home station for 20 years. This station, like Balham to the north has two surface buildings, on opposite corners of a four-way junction. This is one of them:
Tooting Bec Road is flanked by Tooting Bec Common on one side and Tooting Graveney Common on the other. Within Tooting Graveney Common is an athletics track. Nestling just near the railway which splits Tooting Bec Common is Tooting Bec Lido, a supersize outdoor swimming pool. Beyond the bridge, the common is bounded at one end by Garrads Road, while Ambleside Avenue takes one to Streatham Station and Tooting Bec Gardens leads through to Streatham High Road, by way of St Leonards Church.
BAL-HAM: GATEWAY TO THE SOUTH
This is one of the stations designed by Charles Holden and opened in 1926 when the Northern line was extended south to Morden (the southernmost point on the system, a mere 10 miles south of the centre of London – by comparison, Amersham, the most far flung station on the current network is 27 miles out, and Brill, the furthest ever outpost of any line is 51 miles out).
I can provide pictures of both surface buildings and some blurb about the station itself in the form of two photos of stuff in the book Bright Underground Spaces…
Although there are only five stations south of Balham on the Northern line, it is also a main-line railway station, and connects southwards to a number of destinations via three distinct routes, through Streatham Common, Streatham Hill and Hackbridge.
I made extensive use of Balham at one time, when I lived at Parklands Road and worked in New Malden, and it was easier to take a longer walk than strictly necessary and get a train to Clapham Junction, where I could change to another train for New Malden than to do anything else.
Also, given the the majority of it was through commons, the walk though long was quite a pleasant one.
To finish, as usual I have some map pics…
The first of three stations whose name begins with Clapham. This station is the last Holden designed station to feature in this post.
The southern terminus of the line from 1900 to 1926. This station and its neighbour Clapham North are the last two stations to sport the island platforms (one regular-sized platform between two sets of tracks) that were a feature of the City & South London Railway, although a couple of other stations have legacies of such platforms.
The other island-platform station. Near this station is Mary Seacole House, named in honour of a Jamaican born nurse who helped soldiers during the Crimean War. This deeply unprepossessing tower block houses offices used by Lambeth Council.
The first interchange between this line and another underground line (Balham and Clapham North both have connections to main line railway stations and IMO South Wimbledon is close enough to Wimbledon that that should be shown as an interchange) in this case the Victoria. This is a cross-platform interchange, one of four on the Victoria line. A change here is often advisable even if it means one more change than is strictly necessary for the journey (e.g Tooting Bec – Stockwell – Victoria – South Kensington is a quicker journey than Tooting Bec – Embankment – South Kensington) due to the extra speed of travel on the Victoria line.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE GAS HOLDERS
I am treating these two stations together because they are at opposite ends of the Oval cricket ground. Oval was one of the original six stations of the City and South London Railway, the world’s first deep-level tube railway, which opened in 1890. Vauxhall only opened as an underground station in 1971, part of the newest section of the Victoria line, but is also a main-line railway station and would have opened in that capacity long before Oval.
Today is the Saturday of the Oval test, by tradition the last of the summer. At the moment things are not looking rosy for England, but more spectacular turnarounds have been achieved (bowled at for 15 in 1st dig and won by 155 runs a day and a half later – Hampshire v Warwickshire 1922, 523-4D in 1st dig and beaten by ten wickets two days later – Warwickshire v Lancashire 1982 to give but two examples). The Oval in it’s long and illustrious history has seen some of test cricket’s greatest moments:
1880: 1st test match on English soil – England won by five wickets, Billy Murdoch of Australia won a sovereign from ‘W G’ by topping his 152 in the first innings by a single run.
1882: the original ‘Ashes’ match – the term came from a joke obituary penned after this game by Reginald Shirley Brooks. Australia won by 7 runs, England needing a mere 85 to secure the victory were mown down by Fred Spofforth for 77.
1886: A triumph for England, with W G Grace running up 170, at the time the highest test score by an England batsman. Immediately before the fall of the first England wicket the scoreboard nicely indicated the difference in approach between Grace and his opening partner William Scotton (Notts): Batsman no 1: 134 Batsman no 2: 34
1902: Jessop’s Match – England needing 263 in the final innings were 48-5 and in the last-chance saloon with the tables being mopped when Jessop arrived at the crease. He scored 104 in 77 minutes, and so inspired the remainder of the English batsmen, that with those two cool Yorkshiremen, Hirst and Rhodes together at the death England sneaked home by one wicket.
1926: England’s first post World ward I Ashes win, secured by the batting of Sutcliffe (161) and Hobbs (100) and the bowling of young firebrand Larwood and old sage Rhodes – yes the very same Rhodes who was there at the death 24 years earlier.
1938: The biggest margin of victory in test history – England win by an innings and 579. Australia batted without opener Jack Fingleton and even more crucially no 3 Don Bradman in either innings (it was only confirmation that the latter would not be batting that induced England skipper Hammond to declare at 903-7)
1948: Donald Bradman’s farewell to test cricket – a single boundary would have guaranteed him a three figure batting average, but he failed to pick Eric Hollies’ googly, collecting a second-ball duck and finishing wit a final average of 99.94 – still almost 40 runs an innings better than the next best.
1953: England reclaim the Ashes they lost in 1934 with Denis Compton making the winning hit.
1968: A South-African born batsman scores a crucial 158, and then when it looks like England might be baulked by the weather secures a crucial breakthrough with the ball, exposing the Australian tail to the combination of Derek Underwood and a rain affected pitch. This as not sufficient to earn Basil D’Oliveira an immediate place on that winter’s tour of his native land, and the subsequent behaviour of the South African government when he is named as a replacement for Tom Cartwright (offically injured, unoffically unwilling to tour South Africa) sets off a chain of events that will leave South Africa in the sporting wilderness for almost quarter of a century.
1975: Australia 532-9D, England 191 – England in the mire … but a fighting effort all the way down the line in the second innings, Bob Woolmer leading the way with 149 sees England make 538 in the second innings and Australia have to settle for the draw (enough for them to win the series 1-0).
1985: England need only a draw to retain the Ashes, and a second-wicket stand of 351 between Graham Gooch (196) and David Gower (157) gives them a position of dominance they never relinquish, although a collapse, so typical of England in the 1980s and 90s sees that high-water mark of 371-1 turn into 464 all out. Australia’s final surrender is tame indeed, all out for 241 and 129 to lose by an innings and 94, with only Greg Ritchie’s 1st innings 64 worthy of any credit.
2005: For the second time in Oval history an innings of 158 by a South-African born batsman will be crucial to the outcome of the match, and unlike in 1968, the series. This innings would see Kevin Peter Pietersen, considered by many at the start of this match as there for a good time rather than a long time, finish the series as its leading run scorer.
2009: A brilliant combined bowling effort from Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann sees Australia all out for 160 after being 72-0 in their first innings, a debut century from Jonathan Trott knocks a few more nails into the coffin, and four more wickets for Swann in the second innings, backed by the other bowlers and by Andrew Flintoff’s last great moment in test cricket – the unassisted run out of Ricky Ponting (not accompanied by the verbal fireworks of Trent Bridge 2005 on this occasion!).
The above was all written without consulting books, but for those who wish to know more about test cricket at this iconic venue, there is a book dedicated to that subject by David Mortimer.
As usual I conclude this post with some map pics…
At this station the Northern line splits into two branches, one going via Charing Cross and the other via Bank, before a brief recombination at Camden Town and then a further bifurcation. If travelling from a point south of Kennington to a destination on the Charing Cross branch the advice is to get the first train and change at Kennington if necessary, since some Charing Cross branch services start from Kennington. Not far from this station is the Imperial War Museum.
ELEPHANT & CASTLE
An interchange with the Bakerloo line and also with mainline rail services. This area is being redeveloped.
One of only three stations on the Bank branch to have no interchanges. This station serves London’s most renowned food market.
Interchanges with the Jubilee line, in which context I wrote about it in detail, and mainline railways.
I covered this station in great detail when writing about the Central line.
This station has a connection to mainline railways (the Northern City section referred to earlier in this post). It serves Moorfields Eye Hospital.
This station has no interchanges. It possesses the longest escalators on the system (these claimed the record from Leicester Square, not Holborn as erroneously stated in this article). Shrewd observers may note that one of the platforms at this station is exceptionally wide. This is because until its fairly recent refurbishment, including the building of the escalators mentioned above, Angel still had an island platform, which was replaced as part of the work.
KINGS CROSS ST PANCRAS
I have written extensively about this station elsewhere on this site, so all I shall add is that the Northern line platforms at this station are the deepest of any at the station.
EUSTON AND EUSTON SQUARE
Euston Square, served nowadays by the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines is one of the 1863 originals, and as with Baker Street has been restored to look as it would have done when first opened. The City and South London Railway station at Euston was opened on May 12th 1907 and the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway on June 22nd 1907. These two together are now the Northern line, and occupy four platforms here – although widely separated – to change between the two branches you would be well advised to continue northwards to Camden Town where the interchange is cross-platform. The Victoria line station opened on December 1st 1968.
The southbound platform on the Bank branch of the Northern line is very wide at this station because when it was opened as the City and South London Railway station there were two tracks either side of an island platform (an arrangement still in evidence at Clapham Common and Clapham North), and the extra width of that platform comes from the reorginastion when this arrangement was deemed unsuitable for such a busy station.
INTRODUCING THE RAILWAY DETECTIVE
Euston was the first of London’s railway terminals to open, serving the London and North Western Railway, and it was on that route that Edward Marston’s greatest creation, The Railway Detective (a.k.a Inspector Robert Colbeck) investigated the case that first earned him that title (and introduced him to his future wife). These stories are set thus far) in the 1850s, before the opening of the Metropolitan Railway in 1863, but I could see Colbeck still being in business when that momentous event occurs. He would undoubtedly embrace the underground railway wholeheartedly, although his colleague Sergeant Leeming would take some persuading of its virtues!
CONCLUSION AND PICS
I hope that you have enjoyed this post and will be inspired to share it. Here are a couple of pictures to finish…
The Diagrammatic History.
This station is best known for having given its name to a game.
A double bifurcation point, as south of here the line splits in Bank and Charing Cross branches, while to the north it splits into High Barnet and Edgware branches. This is also the closest station to London Zoo.
For more on Camden Town, and a view of the area from a different perspective you can see what Ester makes of it on her Travelling Around The World blog by clicking here.
From 1907 until 1924 there was an intermediate station called South Kentish Town, which was closed due industrial action at Lots Road Power Station and in the event never re-opened. This station has an interchange with mainline railway services. The surface level platforms are spanned by a pedestrian bridge which means that direct access to streets on both sides of the station is possible.
This station is currently closed, officially expected to reopen in 2017.
One of the original northern termini of the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead. Close to this station is the point at which Dick Whittington legendarily turned back towards London and a career that would see him become Lord Mayor of London.
OF MUSIC AND MARX
A CURIOUS HISTORY
One stop south of Highgate is Archway, which opened in 1907 and was for some time the northern terminus of the line. One stop to the north is East Finchley, which was first served by Northern line trains in 1939, having previously been part of the LNER. Highgate, our subject, only opened in 1941 – something of an afterthought.
TO THE UNKNOWN GODDESS
This title comes from a CD case, and concerns a story that began almost 400 years ago and that touches on Highgate…
In 1619 a servant girl the household of the dramatist, librettist and poet Giulio Strozzi gave birth to an illegitimate child. The child, Barbara Strozzi, grew up in the household, becoming Giulio’s “figliuola elettiva” (elective daughter). Encouraged by Giulio she developed considerable musical talents and became known in her own lifetime as a composer and performer.
She is not so well known these days, but it was at Highgate that I first heard her music. The performance featured the same four people as the CD (Catherine Bott, Paula Chateauneuf, Timothy Roberts and Frances Kelly), which I bought that very evening.
A FAMOUS GRAVE
To be fair, quite a few well known people are buried in Highgate Cemetery, but I am confining myself to one. Karl Marx was buried there in 1883, and Marxism 2015, a five-day political event begins in London tomorrow afternoon. I will be there and I intend to put up regular blog posts and tweet about being at the event – watch this space. For much more detail and a different perspective on Highgate Cemetery I recommend this post onalicevstheworld.
One of three stations with Finchley in its name. This is also the last station on this section of the line to be in tunnel.
This station is at surface level, and looks exactly like a rural railway station, not least because that is how it (and the rest of this section of the line on to High Barnet) started life, as a part of the London & North Eastern Railway’s network of local services. Thus we have the paradoxical situation whereby the oldest stations on the line (dating from 1872) have been served for less long by this line than ay of the others. Although we will be following the mainline to High Barnet first we have a little diversion to make to…
MILL HILL EAST
Although this is a very minor spur of track it does include one system-wide record holder. The Dollis Brook Viaduct on this branch is 60 feet above the surface, the highest point of elevation above ground anywhere on the system. Mill Hill East station is itself elevated, though not sufficiently so to warrant up escalators from the street as seen at Alperton.
The third and last of the Finchleys.
WOODSIDE PARK and TOTTERIDGE & WHETSTONE
These two stations are attractive, with platforms in the style of the LNER with whom they started life.
The end of the line. There is open country beyond the station.
Having finished the Bank and High Barnet branches, it is time to take on the Charing Cross and Edgware branches, and of course we have already covered Kennington. I have written in great detail about Waterloo in my posts on the Bakerloo and Jubilee lines.
I wrote in detail about this station in my post on the District line. However a couple of Northern line specific things deserve mention here. Firstly, there are floodgates on the the Northern line platforms because the Thames is directly overhead. Second, this station is further below sea-level than any other on the system, 67 feet to be precise. Third and final due to the fact that the southbound platform uses what was a terminal loop in the days of the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead there is famously a gap between the platform edge and the trains, hence “Mind The Gap”.
This station was originally called Strand, and was not recognized as having an interchange with Charing Cross main line station. Both Charing Cross and its close neighbour Embankment have been through many name changes down the years. The Bakerloo line platforms that now have the name Charing Cross were originally opened as Trafalgar Square. It was the opening of the Jubilee line in 1979 with it’s southern terminus at Charing Cross that led to these two stations being shown as an interchange, because both did have an interchange to the Jubilee line, although the interchange from the Northern to the Bakerloo at this station would not have been advisable in any circumstance – Embankment and Waterloo are both much better options. Charing Cross Station is the centre of the 10KM (6 Miles) radius circle within which drivers of black cabs are required to know everything. This is called “The Knowledge”, a designation which may come from a quote from the world’s most famous consulting detective, in The Adventure of the Red Headed League, when he tells Watson “It is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of London”. For more specific detail about Charing Cross and its neighbour Embankment check out this post.
Until the refurbishment of Angel this station possessed the longest escalators on the system at 161 feet in length. It serves an area of London known both for its Chinese Restaurants and for its Theatres – one designation for this part of London is Theatreland. Additonally, for map lovers, Stanford’s, the greatest of all map shops, is just down the road from this station. There is an interchange to the Piccadilly line here.
TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD
An interchange to the Central line, and from 2017 (if the project is completed on schedule, which in British public transport terms is a big if) Crossrail. This postcard shows the current layout of the station:
Tottenham Court Road is in London’s busiest shopping district. Unique among the shops to be found here is Bookmarks. Also, very close to this station is the British Museum. Recent Developments at this station are covered in this piece from Time Out.
A very long and convoluted interchange with the Victoria line is possible here – although one stop beyond, to Euston would surely be better. This station is even closer to UCL than Goodge Street, while a stroll round the corner takes one to Euston Square, and the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. Also, like the previous two stations this one is within eyesight of a very distinctive tower, in its case the BT Tower.
ON TO THE EDGWARE BRANCH
Euston and Camden Town have already been covered while talking about the Bank branch, so it is time to move on to…
This station was at one time my aunt’s local station. Access to the surface is provided by lifts here, as also at the next two stations.
This station opened in 1907 as part of the original section of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway, which was subsequently amalgamated with the City and South London Railway to form the Northern line. It is located on the Edgware branch, two stops beyond the bifurcation point of Camden Town and one stop south of Hampstead. Like its northerly neighbour it is very deep, and accessible from the street only by lift or staircase. Although it is shown on the maps as offering no interchanges, Gospel Oak on London Overground is walkable should one ever have reason to make such a change.
MURDER ON THE UNDERGROUND
This is the title of a book by 1930s crime writer Mavis Doriel Hay. The murder itself takes place on the stairs mentioned above, and all the action is set around this section of the northern line. Having just read the book I heartily recommend at and am looking forward to reading the other book of hers I have located at one of thelibraries I patronise, Murder on the Cherwell, set in another place I have a more than passing acquaintance with, Oxford.
This is the deepest station anywhere on the system, 192 feet below the surface. Just north of here is the deepest point on the network, 221 feet below the surface of Hampstead Heath. This gives the Northern line three records relating to the station’s vertical location – deepest below sea level, deepest below surface and highest above surface. The remaining record, highest above sea level is held by Amersham, 500 feet up in the Chilterns. Access the the surface is gained by lifts, or if you are up for major climb or are seriously claustrophobic by way of 350 stairs.
A station to have been called either North End or Bull & Bush was excavated at platform level but never built, meaning that the next station we reach is…
Given the record held by Hampstead, and the supplementary record held by a sport just north of Hampstead towards this station, you might expect that this station would still be in tunnel, but it is actually at surface level. The principal depot for the Northern line is located at this station.
Brent Cross is home to a major shopping centre. For this part of the route the line is elevated above surface level giving rise to the infrequent sight of a viaduct with the London Underground logo on the side.
Although this station is correctly shown as having no interchanges, it is only a 13-minute walk from Hendon Thameslink Station. This station is in two fare zones, 3 and 4. This is not very frequent, although the Northern line boasts several examples: South Wimbledon (3 and 4), Clapham South (2 and 3), Elephant & Castle (1 and 2), Archway (2 and 3) and here. Hendon was the birthplace of sporting legend (5,000 test runs for England and FA Cup Winners medal with Arsenal) Denis Compton.
This station is located near Hendon Aerodrome, which now houses the RAF Museum.
The second last station on our journey, and not notable in any way.
Just beyond this station two tunnel openings can be seen, all that currently remains of plans for an extension to Elstree and Aldenham. Like Uxbridge and Stanmore among other London Underground termini this has bus stands directly outside the station building.
HISTORY AND MODERN CONNECTIONS IN MAP FORM
These final maps show the whole line, first its history, and then its modern day connections…
For mainstream non-specialist books I always direct people to book depository because they do free worldwide delivery. The books that I have mentioned in this post to which this applies are:
I have only used two maps in this piece. One of those, the modern London Connections Map, which has Southeast England’s railways on its reverse side, is obtainable free of charge at a wide variety of locations (I picked mine up at King’s Lynn bus station). The other, the Diagrammatic History, can be obtained from Stanford’s, the map specialists based in Covent Garden, very close to the London Transport Museum.
My thanks and congratulations to those of you who have made it all the way through this long and convoluted post. I hope consider ti worthwhile, and will spread the word both about this post and about the website.
Welcome to the latest addition to the series of posts themed around public transport in London. Although the main theme is the Central line, there is going to be much more in the speculative section than usual for reasons that will become obvious.
The first proposals for a Central London Railway were made in 1892, and the CLR opened, running from Shepherd’s Bush to Bank, in 1900.
Early proposals for extensions to this line included turning it into a loop, with a smaller loop through Liverpool Street to the east of the main line (think Ptolemy’s epicycles!).
After this was rejected, there were two plans involving connections to Richmond…
Neither of these went through either. In the 1930s two proposals, both involving existing lines operated by mainline railway companies did ultimately lead to serious extensions (before these two were incorporated into the line it still only ran from Liverpool Street to Ealing Broadway)…
When Central line trains started running to West Ruislip in 1957, the line had taken the shape it would have until 1994, with the closure of the Ongar end of the line. More about this and the history of the line can be found in J. Graeme Bruce and Desmond F. Croome’s book “The Twopenny Tube” (named in honour of the Central London Railway’s original flat fare back in 1900).
Another sine qua non for anyone interested in the Central line is Danny Dorling’s “The 32 Stops”, which takes us on a journey from West Ruislip to Woodford (the section of line within Greater London), and is comfortably the best of Penguin’s 150th anniversary series (albeit not by as big a margin as the Parreno travesty in connection with Hammersmtih & City line is the worst).
As mentioned in my introduction, this going to be detailed, because between the western and eastern ends of the Central line and my ideas for the Hainault loop I pretty much have to go in to detail regarding my vision of a London Orbital Railway. To set the scene, my plans for the southern portion of the Hainault loop are an extended version of the plans for a Hackney-Chelsea line shown on this adapted 1994 Journey Planner…
Rather than this proposal, which abbreviates but does not eliminate the Wimbledon branch of the district, my plan puts the central and Hainault loop portions of that line into a longer, better integrated whole that runs from Woking to Chelmsford. As for the northern part of the loop, that will have to wait for a later post except to say that trains running that side of the loop would follow the new line from Hainault to Chelsmford and that the rest of the plan also involves the Victoria line.
THE LONDON ORBITAL RAILWAY
This is not to be a completely new route, but to utilise existing track where possible, and link up all the major rail networks around London. In this vein, the points selected to be the extremities of the system are all major railway stations on exisiting networks. These are Maidstone East (Southeastern corner), Woking (Southwestern corner), Oxford (Northwestern corner, selected for historical reasons and Chelmsford (Northeastern corner). Oxford is on a spur which connects to the true orbital part of the network at Rickmansworth, having passed through Brill, Aylesbury, Amersham and Chalfont & Latimer en route (see my Metropolitan line post for more detail). Southwards from Rickmansworth it travels to Northwood, Ruislip Common, West Ruislip, Ickenham, South Ruislip, Hillingdon, Uxbridge, Uxbridge Moor, Cowley, Little Britain, Yiewsley, West Drayton, Harmondsworth, Heathrow Terminals 1,2 and 3, Heathrow Terminal 4, Stanwell, Ashford (Surrey), Staines, Laleham, Chertsey, Addlestone, West Byfleet (from where there is a spur to Woking). East from West Byfleet, the line would run Weybridge, Hersham, Esher, Hinchley Wood, Hook, Chessington South, Ewell West, Cheam, Sutton, West Croydon, East Croydon, Addiscombe, Shirley, Spring Park, West Wickham, Hayes, Keston, Locksbottom, Farnborough (Kent), Green Street Green, Chelsfield, Well Hill, Lullingstone Park, Eynsford, Maplescombe, with a spur to West Kingsdown and Maidstone. North from Maplescombe the line would then proceed to Farningham, Horton Kirby, Farningham Road, Sutton-at-Hone, Darenth, Fleet Downs, New Town, Dartford, Joyce Green, Purfleet, Aveley, Wennington, Upminster, Emerson Park, Ardley Green, Harold Wood, Harold Hill, Noak Hill, St Vincents Hamlet, Great Baddow and Chelmsford. Finally, west from Chelmsford it would head to Ongar, Broxbourne, Hertford East, Hertford North, Welwyn Garden City, St Albans, Watford Junction and completing the circle at Rickmansworth (see my previous posts, “Watford and Watford Junction” and “The Great Anomaly” for more details on this connection). Ideally every London Underground line (except the Circle for the obvious reason and the Waterloo & City) would have a connection to somewhere on this orbital route as well.
THE WOKING TO CHELMSFORD LINE
The Hackney-Chelsea line as shown in the adapted 1994 journey planner takes over the southern half of the District line’s Wimbledon branch. If it took over the entire branch, with an interchange to the District at Earls Court I could see the logic, but I see little point in taking over half a branch. Thus, my proposal for a more logical and better integrated Hackney-Chelsea line runs as follows: Woking, West Byfleet, Walton-on-Thames, Hersham, Fieldcommon, Hampton Court (there are actually at least three locations with this title, one in the midlands, one in King’s Lynn, and this one which is the parvenu of the three), Teddington, Ham, Petersham, East Sheen, Barnes Bridge, Castelnau, Parsons Green, from which it would follow the original as far as Hainault.
From Hainault, this line would then run to Chigwell Row, Lambourne End, Stapleford Abbots, Navestock, Kelvedon Hatch, Doddinghurst, Loves Green, Great Baddow and Chelmsford.
POSSIBLE EXTENSIONS TO THE CENTRAL ITSELF
Although West Ruislip is itself on the orbital route, my plan in the interest of greater integration would see the Central line run alongside the orbital through Ruislip Common and Northwood to Rickmansworth (and possibly services on the orbital would skip the two intermediate stops). This would give the Central line direct interchanges to both the northern and western segments of the orbital at that end. The Ealing Broadway branch would be extended by taking over the Greenford branch from mainline railways, and then rather than terminating at Greenford, services via Ealing would run through to Rickmansworth (yes there is scope for confusion, but I still think it could be made to work). Finally, the eastern end of the line would lose the Hainault loop, but the Eppin-Ongar section would be reopened, and then a further extension of 11.4 miles would take the line to Chelmsford, thereby connecting to both the northern and eastern segments of the orbital. The map below shows the area through which such an extension would run:
As you can see, this would give the Central line connection to three of the four segments of the orbital. I also have an idea for completing the set, namely reviving the old project for a Richmond extension, diverging from the main line at Shepherds Bush and running as follows: Seven Stars Corner, Bedford Park, rising to the surface at Gunnersbury, running along current District tracks to Richmond, and then calling additionally at Twickenham, Hanworth, Sunbury, Upper Halliford, Shepperton, Lower Halliford, Oatlands Park, Weybridge, West Byfleet and Woking.
Having had a look at the history of the line, and also at a vision for future developments it is a time to change tack, and as with the posts about the Hammersmith and City, Piccadilly and Metropolitan lines we will now journey along the existing line.
We start our journey on the section of the line along which life expectancy falls by two months per minute of journey time (see the Dorling book):
The western point of the line, and the starting point for the longest continuous journey currently makeable on London Underground – 34.1 miles to Epping. The mainline railway from Marylebone calls at this station en route the High Wycombe, Banbury and Birmingham among other places, but although the railway snakes away into the distance the station has a fairly rural aspect. For more please see my previous post “West Ruislip and Ickenham”
The point at which the railway into Marylebone diverges from the Central line.
The northern terminus of a small branch line from Ealing, which as I have already indicated I see as being suitable for being subsumed into the Central line. As currently constituted the station, which is elevated, although not quite so dramatically as Alperton on the Piccadilly line has three platforms, two through platforms for the Central and a single terminal platform for the branch line. In my scheme this would become four platforms, all operated by the Central line. Greenford is also notable for the presence of the old Hoover building (now a Tesco superstore).
The last station on this branch before the joining point at North Acton, this area is chiefly notable for four words capable in conjunction of reducing any London based motorist to a quivering wreck: Hanger Lane Gyratory System (a very regular feature of traffic bulletins for those who listen to the radio):
Before we continue our journey eastwards, we have a small gap to fill (no branches ignored by this writer)…
The other western terminus of this line, a junction with the District and with mainline railways (although trains going that far do not call at Ealing Broadway this is the original Great Western Railway, along which trains travel to Penzance, West Wales (the divergence point between these two routes is at Bristol) and also up to Banbury via Oxford).
One of no fewer than seven stations in London to feature Acton as part of its name (the other two Actons on the Central, Acton Town on the District and Piccadilly, South Acton and Acton Central on London Overground and Acton Mainline on First Great Western), and the only other station besides Ealing Broadway on this branch.
The point at which, in our direction of travel, the Ealing and West Ruislip branches merge.
Although the stadium is long since gone, and built over, this was the site of London’s first Olympics in 1908. These games may well have saved the Olympics, because although the first modern Olympics at Athens in 1896 had been a great success, and the intercalated games of 1906 back at Athens almost equally so, the 1900 and 1904 games were both in differing ways epic fails. Paris 1900 represents the only occasion on which the Olympics have been in the shadow of another event (the Exposition Universelle) – to such an extent that some of the medal winners were not even aware of the significance of their achievement. As for St Louis 1904, a combination of absurdly long duration (in excess of three months), and the cost of travel for non-Americans meant that it was more like an inter-college tournament than an international event. Just to make things even worse, after the games proper were finished, the organisers staged what they called “Anthropological Games” (I leave this to your imagination!).
These games, centred on a stadium designed by Charles Perry specifically for the occasion (he also got the same gig for Stockholm 1912 – he must have been good), were tremendously successful. There were a couple of unsavoury incidents, the ‘Dorando Marathon’, where Dorando Pietri of Italy entered the stadium first, but on the point of collapse, was assisted by officials, and the Americans submitted a protest on behalf of the second athlete into the stadium, their own John Joseph Hayes, which was upheld. The other incident also involved American athletes, two of whom deliberately crowded Wyndham Halswelle (GB) in the mens 400m, causing a British judge to declare the race void and order a rerun, which the Americans refused to take part in.
Among the other medallists was J W H T Douglas (better known as a cricketer – those who saw him bat reckoned those initials stood for Johnny Won’t Hit Today) who won gold in the middleweight boxing.
The station at White City was originally called Wood Lane…
Having said a lot about White City, other than a brief pointer to my previous post “Notting Hill Gate” I am going to skip several stops before paying a call at…
This is first of a run of four stations served by the Central line that take you through London’s best known shopping area. Speakers Corner is a few minutes walk from this station.
Once upon a time this station had a frontage designed by Charles Holden, but that has long since gone, as the space directly above the station is now a shopping centre called West 1 (name taken directly from the postcode). Bond Street, currently served by the Central and Jubilee lines, is one of the places that will be served by East-West crossrail. Also, Bond Street is the local station for a well known classical music venue, Wigmore Hall…
One of the busiest stations on the entire network, there are interchanges with the Central and Bakerloo lines here. Also, in conjunction with Bond Street, and the Bakerloo line route from here to Piccadilly Circus, which follows the curve of Regent Street, this comes closest of any stretch of London Underground to including a complete set of monopoly board properties.
TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD
The last of the four station sequence along London’s two best known shopping streets, this station has undergone huge redevelopment…
I covered Holborn in “Project Piccadilly“, and Chancery Lane deserves only a brief mention for the fact that officially, “The City” starts here, which bring us to…
The current St Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Christopher Wren (there is stone in there with a message carved on it reading “If you seek my monument look all around you”), is the third on the site in its long history. St Pauls is also the closest station to the Museum of London through one window of which you can view a still standing section of the old walls of the Roman trading post Londinium.
The heart of “The City”. The Central was the third line to serve a Bank, following the Waterloo and City (opened 1898, the second oldest of the deep level tube lines), and the City & South London, extended here in anticipation of the opening of the Central in early 1900. There are escalators connecting the various lines at Bank (including the Docklands Light Railway) to Monument (District and Circle, opened 1884). This latter station takes its name from another Wren creation, which stands 202 feet tall and is precisely 202 feet from the spot where the Great Fire of London started in 1666.
Skating over Liverpool Street, we come next to…
Bethnal Green features in some of Edward Marston’s Railway Mysteries, as an area so forbidding that even the exceedingly tough Sergeant Leeming does not relish visiting it. Also, Bethnal Green is home to the Museum of Childhood, which is definitely well worth a visit.
Although there are some small sections of the Central that are in tunnel east of here, this is the last station in the continuous underground section that begins at Shepherd’s Bush. As mentioned in my Hammersmith and City line post the interchange here is a unique one.
As currently constituted this is the easternmost station on the Central to have an interchange to other lines (The Jubilee, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, mainline local, national and international railways. This is where London 2012 took place, London following Athens (1896, the intercalated games of 1906 and 2004) in staging a third games (The USA including its disastrous first foray in 1904 has actually staged four summer Olympics – Los Angeles in 1932 and 1984 and Atlanta in 1996 being the others).
This is one of the not so exclusive club of places where Essex County Cricket Club have played home games (at one time they played regularly at eight different grounds, which one player likened to being permanently on tour). Charles Kortright, author of the single most devastating put down that W.G.Grace ever suffered: “Going already Doctor? But there’s still one stump standing” was born here. On one occasion his fiery fast bowling led spectators to debate whether in the event of his killing someone the correct charge would be manslaughter or murder.
This is the point at which the southern part of the Hainault loop diverges from the rest of the Central line, and before continuing our journey on the main route we are going to sample it.
WANSTEAD – FAIRLOP
Redbridge has the shallowest platforms of any fully enclosed London Undeground station, just 26 feet below the surface. Gants Hill and Newbury Park are notable for their external buildings – Gants Hill features a tower, while Newbury Park has a remarkable covered car park. Fairlop, reminding us that we are getting into open territory has a Country Park, Fairlop Waters.
Hainault Forest has been publicised for many years. I customised this replica of a promotional poster originally advertising a bus route to suit the modern era…
THE NORTH SECTION OF THE LOOP
Grange Hill was the setting a childrens TV Programme way back when (it was old when I was a child). Chigwell also has a TV pedigree – the hit comedy series Birds of a Feather was set there. Roding Valley is utterly undistinguished.
BACK TO THE MAIN LINE
South Woodford and Woodford are the last two stations covered in the Dorling book, and the story he tells comes full circle here, ending as it began, with someone who works in the Office for National Statistics.
Buckhurst Hill is of no great significance, and Loughton, with its splendid Great Eastern style station (this whole section from Stratford on was originally part of the Great Eastern railway) has already had the full post treatment from me. I will pass Debden and Theydon Bois swiftly, bringing us to our journey’s end at…
We are now at the northernmost station currently served by London Underground (the line from here to Ongar, which when I last visited could still be seen runs virtually due north, while my envisaged route to Chelmsford would then be going practically due east from Ongar). This end of the line, even having been cut back from Ongar, does feel very isolated, because one has to travel a fair distance before meeting an interchange, and with Epping-Ongar being run as a shuttle service rather than a through route, Ongar felt exceedingly isolated. This is why I envisage a through route to Chelmsford, the county town of Essex, with a connection to mainline railways, and my envisaged London Orbital Railway, which given the way that network has developed I now see as forming the outer boundary of an expanded London Overground.
MAPS AND ENDNOTES
First of all, my last couple of pictures, one from London Underground: A Diagrammatic History and one showing the modern day connections:
This journey through the Central line’s history, with more than a glance towards the future, and then a journey along the line as constituted has been great fun to write – I hope you find it as fun to read, and for those who have reached the terminating point of this great ride I have one final message…
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).