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.
I spotted this book in King’s Lynn library and of course had to take it out. Here is the front cover:
The book is crammed with interesting information, and covers every line in detail as well as going over the history and some of pre-history of London Underground. I am very glad that I did borrow it, and have enjoyed dipping into it on a regular basis while it is in my possession. However, I have some…
I am going to start with the coverage of the East London line (which was still part of London Underground when the book was published although it is not now). In covering this line Mr Halliday states tat the Brunel tunnel under the Thames is the oldest object on the system having opened as a pedestrian tunnel in 1843. I have no quibble with his dating of the tunnel, but the stations that now form the northern end of the High Barnet branch of the Northern line opened as main-line railway in 1842, one year earlier than the pedestrian tunnel.
When covering the Central line Mr Halliday fails to mention that original eastern extension of that line beyond Liverpool Street did not end as it does today at Epping, but continued to Ongar (this is another former main line railway incorporated into London Underground, and opened in that guise in 1856). This leads me to another minor area of disappointment:
In talking about the early history of the Metropolitan Mr Halliday mentions the Brill branch and the envisaged extension of this branch to Oxford but does not seem to consider that by opening up connections at both ends this could actually have boosted the use of the line. Similarly, when mentioning the former Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly line he does not consider the possible use of this under-used branch as a starting point for an extension into southeast London and west Kent. As mentioned above I regard the failure to even mention the stations beyind Epping on the Central line as inexcusable, and this too could be a discussion point – in my own post on the Central line I have advocated an extension to Chelmsford and another connection to mainline railways. Nevertheless, for all these issues I conclude this post (apart from some more pictures) by restating that this is a very useful and interesting little book.
On Saturday I had cause to be in London for the day (click here for more details). Engineering works interfered with my journey, and finding myself on a stopping train I alighted at Finsbury Park to change to the Piccadilly line.
A NEW POSTER THAT STIRRED A MEMORY
The first southbound train that arrived was doing so after a significant break, and was therefore packed. Following my own advice tendered in a comment posted on Charlotte Hoather’s blog I therefore waited for the next train, which was following hard upon the heels of the packed one and duly got a seat. Just inside the train I noticed this poster…
Which reminded me more than a little of this one in my posession…
My replica of an old poster is larger and more detailed but covers a smaller area, stopping short at Hammersmith rather than featuring Heathrow. The basic idea, of showing people what is available directly above the line on which they are travelling is common to both posters. I feel that for all the comparatively small size of the modern poster only showing the Science Museum for South Kensington is reprehensible – both the other museums should certainly be shown and possibly the Royal College of Music as well. That said, there should be more such posters – every line should feature one. Here to finish is a juxtaposition picture…
This post features a London landmark which is particularly well served by public transport. There will be links to several other posts in appropriate places, and I have a couple of satellite maps to share as well.
ABOUT THE INSTITUTE
Although it was independent for a long time, the Institute of Education is now part of University College London’s (UCL) seemingly ever expanding empire (UCL owned/ run buildings nowadays occupy a significant proportion of Bloomsbury). More information about what is generally available at this particular site can be found here. Although I visited the institute a few times in connection with an autism research project for which I was a subject my main involvement with the place has been by way of the Marxism Festivalwhich has made use of this building for all save a few of the years since I first attended it (in 1995, when I was on the team). Back then we used only three venues in the building for meetings, the Logan, Jeffery and Elvin halls. This year, when the institute was one of only two buildings used for the festival (the other bieng the Royal National Hotel, across Bedford Way) these venues were augmented as meeting rooms by Clarke Hall, Nunn Hall, and various rooms on the upper floors (including one set aside as a designated quiet space). For more about the most recent incarnation of this festival click here.
THE TRANSPORT CONNECTIONS
While the closest station by some margin is Russell Squareon the Piccadilly line, Euston and Euston Square are both also within ten minutes walk (Northern, Victoria, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, London Overground and National Rail between them), with Warren Street (Northern and Victoria) and Goodge Street (Northern) also near at hand, and King’s Cross comfortably walkable (as I can confirm from experience). In addition to the above, Euston station has out front what is effectively a bus station, and buses travel from there to most parts of London.
TWO SATELLITE VIEWS
To end this post here are two satellite views obatined by use of google maps, first one showing the transport connections in the close vicinity of the building:
And a closer view shwoing the building in more detail:
The institute numbers its floors (or levels as they call them), starting at 1 and ascending. Bedford Way adjoins level three, while the courtyard on the other side gives access to level four.
This post looks at one of the more distinctive stations on the system. I have some good illustrations for you.
The original station was opened in 19o2 serving the District line, as that line expanded east. In 1936 services on what was then the Hammersmith & City section of the Metropolitan line started calling there as that route was extended along the line of the District to Barking. Finally, in 1946, as part of an extension to enable Central line trains to run over former Great Eastern Railway tracks to Ongar, that line came to Mile End in 1946. This history creates a…
Mile End is the only place you can make a cross-platform underground interchange between a ‘tube’ railway (the Central) and a ‘subsurface’ railway (District or Hammersmith & City). All other situations where this is possible (e.g District & Piccadilly at BaronsCourt are surface level stations).
STEP-FREE ACCESS: A PETITION
Although much progress has been made in recent years, London Underground is still a long way from being fully accessible to disabled people (and that is an understatement – see here), and one station that at present falls short is Mile End, which is the subject of this petition, which I have previously shared here.
This is a post that owes its existence to serendipity – a piece of imaging at work yesterday and something I saw on twitter yesterday combining to give me the idea.
Manor House was opened as part of the first northerly extension of the Piccadilly line in 1932 (the extension from Finsbury Park to Cockfosters happened in three phases during 1932-3). It has had the same name for its whole history, although later in this post I will be suggesting a change. Here are two maps to show its history and modern connections:
AN EXCITING DEVELOPMENT AND A SUGGESTED NAME CHANGE
While on twitter I spotted a tweet about a development called Woodberry Wetlands and being impressed by what I saw decided to do some digging. I soon established that the site is practically next door to Manor House station, and it did not take much longer, having located an official website to decide that this was something entirely worthy of my support – cherishing nature while being deep within the capital city. For those who (like me) dotwitter, they have a presence there too.
I have a number of pictures for you, some gleaned with the help of google maps, and some extracted from the official website (individual URLs accompany each of these pics)…
Woodberry Wetlands opens on May 1st 2016, and I wish them all the best. I finish this section with…
A SUGGESTED NAME CHANGE
There is historical precedence for name changes on the Piccadiilly line – the name of Gillespie Road station was changed to Arsenal at the request of the club’s then general manager Herbert Chapman. I respectfully suggest that this project outweighs a mere football club in importance and that TFLwould be well advised to at least consider changing the name of Manor House station to Woodberry Wetlands (effective from May 1st).
Although this station is on the original section of the Piccadilly line which opened in 1906 Covent Garden did not open until 1907. The reason for this omission is that it is actually a mere 0.16 miles (0.26 km) from Leicester Square, the shortest distance between any two stations on the same line anywhere on the system (this distinction is there for situations such as Euston Square and Warren Street which are round the corner from one another). However, in spite of the proximity of Leicester Square, Covent Garden does have enough to offer to justify having its own station, as the rest of this post will endeavour to show. Here are some map pictures showing the crowded nature of the area:
MUSIC, MARKETS AND MAPS
Dealing with these in the order above, Covent Garden is home to the English National Opera. Covent Garden Market is very famous, and more information is available at their website. Finally in this section, just down the road from Covent Garden station is Stanford’s, the map dealers. If you are going to find a map anywhere, Stanford’s will have it.
Covent Garden is in the heart of Theatreland. In addition to the information in the website to which I have just linked, there is a walk (no 3 to be precise) in “100 Walks In Greater London” which takes in theatreland, and a century ago a map was produced combining London Underground and Theatreland…
THE LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM
I have, of course, saved Covent Garden’s most important attraction until last: it is here that you will find the London Transport Museum. This is an absolute treasure house for anyone interested in London Transport. You can explore old rolling stock, look at maps and much else besides. As this shows, the enthusiasm is mutual:
A LITERARY POSTSCRIPT: EDWARD MARSTON
It is a little tenuous but I cannot miss this opportunity to mention one of my favourite writers, Edward Marston. His series set in the Restoration period (a couple of centuries before London Underground – but his Railway Detective series needs only to move forward five more years to overlap with the beginning of London Undeground) features Christopher Redmayne as its leading character, and his errant brother Henry lives at Covent Garden.
This post is about a station that is now closed, and the opportunities that were missed by that closure. A lot of it therefore is speculative in nature.
Aldwych was part of the original Piccadilly line that opened in 1906. In the early years of the line there was a Strand Theatre Train which ran straight through to the northern terminus rather than operating as a shuttle to Holborn where a change was then necessary. The significance of this fact should become more obvious later in the post, but meanwhile here is an extract from the Diagrammatic History:
SEGUE: ALDWYCH ON THE A-Z
To set the scene for the rest of this post I have some A-Z pages from just before the closure of Aldwych…
Aldwych is very close to Temple, and this was recognized as an interchange when both stations were open, but my speculations centre mainly on two railway stations through which an extension from Aldwych could logically pass: Blackfriars and Waterloo.
MAIDSTONE VIA BLACKFRIARS AND/ OR SEVENOAKS VIA WATERLOO
Firstly, to make one thing clear, this branch would not be treated as a shuttle in my scheme, trains would run along it to and from Cockfosters. The two potential routes for my extension would be:
Via Waterloo: 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 (which would have a connection to my envisaged London Orbital Railway – see this post for more details), Well Hill, Shoreham, Kemsing and Sevenoaks (thereby terminating somewhere with good onward connections in the form of mainline railways and – see here for more – London Overground)
Via Blackfriars: Blackfriars, London Bridge, Bermondsey, Surrey Quays, Mudchute, Island Gardens, Greenwich Park, Blackheath, Eltham High Street, New Eltham, Longlands, Sidcup High Street, Foots Cray, Ruxley, Hockenden, Crockenhill, Hulberry, Eynsford (connection to London orbital Railway in my scheme), Maplescombe, West Kingsdown, Fairseat, Vigo Village, Ditton, Maidstone West and Maidstone East (again terminating somewhere with mainline railway connections).
If forced to choose between the two plans I would opt for the second plan, going via Blackfriars. If both were to be built I would consider it an opportunity to advertise this wonderful walk, which would be within the ambit of London Underground:
Of course, this scheme would make the Piccadilly line very large and sprawling., especially if my envisaged northward extension to Welwyn Garden City were also to be built. Ultimately, as a speculation on a speculation, I could see a split, as services run between Welwyn Garden City and Sevenoaks/ Maidstone on one line, Uxbridge/ Heathrow to Holborn on the other, with a possible eastward extension from Holborn to come.
My vision around Aldwych (and I travelled the by then shabby and ill-kept branch just before it closed) would see it not as an endpoint in which role it served little purpose, but as a starting point for new developments as outlined above.