This post focuses on a single station. The idea developed from a conversation with a work colleague in which trips to London were mentioned and he explained that with a family of four it was cheaper to drive to Epping, stay overnight at a hotel there and use London Underground from there than to travel by train.
THE NORTHEASTERN CORNER
Epping, first served by London Underground in 1940 (the whole stretch of the Central line beyond Stratford started life as Great Eastern Railway branch line, and Loughton, three stops south of Epping, still has its Victorian era GER building), is now the north-eastern limit of the system (more of this later, and also see the speculative section of the piece about the central line). There is cheap hotel accommodation close to the station, which means the for folk who would naturally approach the city from the northeast and drive it is a good place to choose as a base for a visit to the capital. Because of its interchanges with every other line on the system the central line is a good one to be based on, as Danny Dorling in “The 32 Stops”, the best of the penguin series celebrating the 150th anniversary of London Underground, points out. A few examples of major attractions and the necessary connections follow:
The museums of South Kensington (either change at Mile End to the District or at Holborn to the Piccadilly according to choice, bonus tip: take a picnic with you and lunch in Hyde Park).
Maritime Greenwich – change at Stratford to the Docklands Light Railway and choose one of two possibilities:
1)Alight at Island Gardens and take the foot tunnel to the Greenwich side of the Thames, returning to Greenwich having finished your explorations or…
2)Unimaginatively alight at Cutty Sark to start your explorations there.
The British Museum – no changes needed as Tottenham Court Road is only a few hundred yards away.
The South Bank Centre – change at Tottenham Court Road to the Northern and go south to Embankment, strolling across the Thames from there (this is definitely quicker than travelling the extra stop to Waterloo).
At the moment Epping is at the outside edge of fare zone 6, although London mayoral candidate Sian Berryhas an excellent idea that will change this – see the following:
Having detailed Epping’s value as a base our next section looks at…
THINGS TO DO IN EPPING
I mentioned earlier that Epping was not always the end of the line. Until 1994 the line ran to Ongar, although the section between Epping and Ongar was run as a shuttle service, making it feel very isolated. It is this that is at the centre of Epping based activities. There is a walking route from Epping to Ongar as detailed in “Country Walks Around London”, walk 12. This walk is 5 miles in length, meaning that an energetic person could choose to do it both ways.
However, there is also an alternative way of doing the same route, namely making use of the Epping-Ongar Railway, the longest heritage railway in Essex. Thus, if you want to explore this area that used by served by London Underground (and the village of Chipping Ongar is certainly worth a visit) you have a raft of options according to your energy levels:
Walk both ways
Walk out, Epping and Ongar Railway back
Epping and Ongar railway out, walk back
Epping and Ongar railway both ways
MAPS AND DIAGRAMS
Here are some pictures to help put Epping in context…
This website grew out of series of blog posts that I dubbed “London Station by Station”, and this post is along those lines.
ONE OF SNOOKERS TRIPLE CROWN
I have chosen today for this post because The Masters, one of the three tournaments which along with the UK Championship and the World Championship that constitutes Snooker’s triple crown is under way. This tournament is nowadays staged at Alexandra Palace…
The Piccadilly line opened between Finsbury Park and Hammersmith in 1906, and was extended northwards in three stages between 1932 and 1933. Wood Green was part of the first stage of the extension, from Finsbury Park to Arnos Grove. Phase two was an extension from Arnos Grove to Enfield West (now Oakwood), and the final part of the extension was to Cockfosters.
Here are some maps…
ALEXANDRA PALACE & WOOD GREEN
Why am I using an event at Alexandra Palace to write about Wood Green? Because the two are very close together, as this picture from an old A-Z atlas of London shows:
I once had family living in this part of London, and often travelled to one or other of the two stations on the above map section at that time.
THE ALEXANDRA PALACE WALK
Although this walk, from “100 Walks in Greater London” is based around using Alexandra Palace railway station, it would not require much extension to make use of Wood Green.
HISTORY AND CONNECTIONS
A couple of final map pictures, showing the history of Wood Green station and the modern connections of Wood Green and Alexandra Palace…
It has been a while since I last posted on this site due it being Christmas. During the Christmas period itself I stayed with my parents and sundry other family members in East Rudham (from the 24th to the 28th to be exact, there being no public transport on the 25th and 26th – which I wholeheartedly agree with – and the 27th being a Sunday), and I chose to not to take my computer with me. Appropriately my return to action on this site has to do with a Christmas present.
AN UNEXPECTED GIFT
This present was unexpected in two ways – I had no idea that I would be getting it, and it came from someone who I had not expected to get me a present in any case. The purchaser of the present (my cousin Amanda) had not been going to get me anything until she saw this item. It was a set of playing cards in an aluminium box, and on the front of the box and also on the back of each individual card was an extract from the London Underground map! A wonderful choice of present.
AN UNUSUAL FEATURE FOR AN ENGLISH PACK OF CARDS
Aside from the pattern, and the box in which they come there is one other unusual feature about this pack as compared to a standard English pack – the first picture below is the ace of spades from this pack, while the second is the same card from a pack of Waddington’s no 1s…
The first piece of writing I offered the public about London Underground was a blog post about this station. From that start grew this website, I now produce a new piece about…
In 1868, The Metropolitan District Railway was opened as a partner to the Metropolitan Railway, with the intention of among other things creating an ‘Inner Circle’ linking all of central London’s main destinations. Due to frequent squabbles between the two organisations it was 16 years before the circle was completed. A legacy of this fractious beginning can be seen in the now unused bay platform that was created for the use of Metropolitan Railway trains. In 1906 the deep-level part of the station opened, when an amalgamation of parts of three proposed schemes opened running between Finsbury Park and Hammersmith (this is the nucleus of the modern Piccadilly line, since extended north to Cockfosters and having subsumed the Uxbridge and Hounslow branches of the District).
The chief point of interest of this station’s location are the museums which are close by. This is recognised in the presence of an underground passage from the ticket hall to Exhibition Road, with exits at the appropriate point for each museum. The number of museums in this area has reduced by one since I was a child because the Geological and Natural History museums were amalgamated to form one giant museum. There are now three major museums in this area:
The Royal College of Music is based on Prince Consort Road, very close to the Albert Hall, just south of Hyde Park. I have a map which makes it’s relevance to this station very obvious. Yet another famous place in this area.
A COUPLE OF ARCHITECTURAL QUIRKS
For those who shun the underground passageway referred to above, there is a small shopping arcade of the type that many London Underground stations used to have, and some attractive 1868 ironwork to have a look at.
MAPS – ANCIENT & MODERN
I conclude this post with some maps showing the station’s history and modern connections…
This time we are taking a good look at the Victoria line, the second newest on the system.
This line has very little history, having opened in three tranches between 1968 and 1971 and been unchanged since the Victoria-Brixton section opened in 1971. Such history as there is can be gleaned from these maps and other pictures…
Before going into detail about my speculations anent this line, this is a geographical map showing London Transport of approximately 20 years ago (I bought it from the London Transport Museum). It is somewhat damp stained, but still perfectly readable…
Next, this picture is of the same map but focusses on the Victoria line specifically…
When I we were first living in Streatham (before Pratt’s had closed, so somewhere around 30 years ago now), there was a campaign to bring London Underground to Streatham by means of extending the Victoria line south from Brixton. Nothing came of this idea, as the Victoria was already packed to bursting, especially at peak times, and it was felt that an extension was therefore not feasible. Thus, the nearest stations on London Underground to Streatham remain Balham and Tooting Bec (these are both significantly closer than Brixton – I have walked it from all three over the years so I know whereof I write). Living where we did, we had a choice of many stations depending on mood and reason for travelling that were within walking distance but not particularly close – Tooting Bec on the Northern line, Streatham, Streatham Common and Tooting on mainline railways. On occasions I would choose to make the longer walk to Balham so as to wait less long for a mainline train to Clapham Junction (trains coming in from Streatham Hill, Mitcham Junction and Streatham Common all converged at Balham for the northward run to Clapham Junction and Victoria) – this was particularly the case when I was working in New Malden in the late 1990s.
I have two suggestions for easing congestion on the Victoria line as it exists currently, to enable my envisaged extensions. Firstly, the Woking-Chelsmfors link that I described in detail in this post on the Central line, originally published on aspiblog, and now available here would ease congestion on the central part of the Victoria by offering an alternative route from Victoria to King’s Cross. My second more radical suggestion is a doubling of the tracks between Brixton and Walthamstow, which would mean some loss of cross-platform interchanges for some services, but would certainly reduce congestion.
Those who read the Central line post will know that one of my planned extensions of the Victoria line involves using the northern half of the Hainault loop (the Woking-Chelmsford plan uses the southern half). I have two pictures to enable you to envisage the extension from Walthamstow to Woodford, and just before showing them will say that beyond Hainault, the Victoria would share the route to Chelmsford with the Woking-Chelmsford…
My plans for extending beyond Brixton involve two possibilities between which I cannot decide – either an extension through Streatham, at last connecting that area to London Underground to a terminus at East Croydon, and possibly then taking over the Caterham branch from mainline railways or a south-easterly extension to Sevenoaks, turning the line into a horseshoe shape. My personal preference would be for an extension through Streatham, but I admit to a degree of bias here. I am influenced by memories of deciding when I temped at Lambeth Council’s HQ in Brixton that the public transport options for the journey from Streatham did not warrant the expenditure and settling for an hours walk each way instead.
We have looked at the past, and at my vision for the future, so now it is time to focus for the rest of this piece on…
Those familiar with these surveys will know what is coming – a journey along the line as it now stands, and we are going to start from…
When I think of Walthamstow I think of giving the EDL the welcome they deserved – a red hot one, which as detailed in this blog post was duplicated shortly afterwards in Norwich. I am proud to have been part of both events. Walthamstow offers an interchange to the London Overground route from Liverpool Street to Chingford (a place that has the discredit of choosing IDS as its MP).
This offers a connection to mainline railways. It is also one of the small but growing number of stations to have step-free access from street to platform.
Another connection to London Overground, this time a route that runs from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt with a branch to Enfield Town. Two stops north of here on that route is White Hart Lane, home of Tottenham Hotspur football club.
This is a major interchange station, with a connection to the Piccadilly line and also to mainline railway services. If you happen to be travelling from King’s Lynn to Gatwick Airport late at night a change on to the Victoria line here rather than waiting until Kings Cross saves a little time – the extra stop being compensated for by the shorter interchange. Ignore any suggestion of using the direct connection from St Pancras to Gatwick – this is a slow stopping service, whereas the Gatwick Express from Victoria is non-stop and very fast, as it’s name suggests – what you lose by making two changes involving the Victoria line comes back with interest on the difference between the slow and fast routes to Gatwick. I have evidence to back these claims up – my aunt made the mistake of accepting well meant but incorrect advice at Kings Cross when she was recently catching a flight from Gatwick and for her return journey made the correct decision to use Gatwick express and accept an extra change, and found this journey much quicker.
HIGHBURY AND ISLINGTON
This station has an interchange to mainline railways, and also to two London Overground routes, the one that incorporates what used to be the East London Line and has southern termini at New Cross, West Croydon and Crystal Palace, and the original London Overground route, which used to run from Richmond to North Woolwich but now terminates at Stratford. There is also a mainline railway connection running to and from Moorgate, the section between Moorgate and Finsbury Park having been run as part of London Underground, both as a Metropolitan section and as a Northern line branch in its past.
KINGS CROSS ST PANCRAS
I have given this extensive treatment before, which I reproduce below:
Welcome to the next installment in my station by station guide to London. Following the success of my piece on Paddington I have gone for the other main line terminus among the original seven stations on the Metropolitan Railway…
King’s Cross and St Pancras are next door neighbours to one another, and therefore served by the same Underground Station. Although this was one of the 1863 originals, the platforms that now serve the Hammersmith and City, Circle and Metropolitan lines have been resited – the present ‘surafce’ level station dates only from 1941. The Piccadilly line station was part of the original section of that line which opened in 1906, while the City and South London Railway (now the Bank branch of the Northern line) got there in 1907. Finally, it was part of the second section of the Victoria line to come on stream in December 1968.
Although King’s Cross (of which more later) is by some way the larger of the two main line rail terminals here, St Pancras is an extraordinary building, resembling an outsized fairy castle. St Pancras is now an international terminus, running trains to the continent, and meaning that over a century after he just failed to make it happen the dream of Edward Watkin, who guided the Metropolitan in its great era of expansion, of being able to travel by rail from Paris to Manchester by way of London is now a reality. Here are some pictures of this magnificent station:
King’s Cross is a station of two parts – the main concourse and platforms 1-8 which run long haul trains to the north and scotland, and off to one side platforms 9-11 from which trains to much more local destinations such as Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn depart. It is here that you will find the sign to platform 93/4 from which the Hogwarts Express departs in the Harry Potter stories. Having mentioned one literary association, King’s Cross plays a passing role in more than one of Edward Marston’s stories involving Inspector Colbeck a.ka. The Railway Detective.
I have my usual style map images to help those of you not familiar with the area to orient yourselves:
Another station that I have given full post treatment to – for more click here.
This is one of several stations you might use if paying a visit to University College London (Euston Square and Euston are both also possibilites, and if you were coming in from a long way out and arriving at either Kings Cross or St Pancras it would make sense to walk from there rather than batter your Oyster Card to save a few minutes.) It is also a local station for the BT Tower (nee Post Office Tower) – Goodge Street on the Northern line is closer, but it is not worth making the change if you happen to be on the Victoria line anyway.
A cross-platform interchange with the Bakerloo (like that with the Piccadilly at Finsbury Park and a couple of others) and a longer interchange to the Central. As befits a station serving one of the best known shopping streets on the planet Oxford Circus is perennially busy.
Interchanges with the Jubilee and Piccadilly lines, both involving a lot of walking. The station takes its name from the smallest of London’s eight royal parks. It adjoins Buckingham Palace, London seat of that outdated institution the Monarchy.
A vast transport hub, including a bus station, Britain’s largest coach station and a mainline rail station. I have previously covered it in exhaustive detail, which I reproduce below…
Special Post: Victoria
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…
The only station on the Victoria line to have no interchanges at all. This station was opened late, in 1972, one year after the Victoria-Brixton section opened. It serves Tate Britain, one of the four art galleries that come under the heading Tate Gallery.
I covered this station as part of a post themed around the Oval Cricket Ground, which the mainline platforms here overlook, and once again I reproduce that below…
Special Post: Oval and Vauxhall
Welcome to the latest post in my series “London Station by Station”. I hope you will enjoy this post and that some of you will be encouraged to share it.
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…
A cross-platform interchange with the northern line. When Tooting Bec was my local London Underground station many an underground journey featured a change at Stockwell because of the speed of travel on the Victoria line. For example, South Kensington was most quickly approached by changing at Stockwell and Victoria, rather than the one change methods involving Embankment or Leicester Square.
The end of the line. As mentioned earlier in this post this where you would find Lambeth Town Hall. Brixton is also home to Electric Avenue, so called because it was the first shopping street to be lit by electricity. Brixton is also home to The Brix. Finally, Brixton was where I spent the second part of election night 1997, before making the long walk home, setting out just before 4AM and getting home around 5AM.
I hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour of the Victoria line, and I end by displaying these final pictures…
The title of this post comes from the title of Piers Connor’s history of the District Line, which is getting the aspiblog treatment this week…
As with that of it’s second youngest, the Victoria, almost precisely a century later, London’s second oldest underground line’s initial opening occurred in three phases between 1868 and 1871. After the third and final phase of opening the Metropolitan District Railway (as it was officially called at that time) looked like this:
A running theme of these early years were squabbles between the District and the Metropolitan over the completion of The Inner Circle (now the Circle line) and who could run their trains where. In the 1870s the District started producing maps for the benefit of their passengers, as these pictures show…
I do not know what these very early maps looked like, but here is a picture of my facsimile of a pre-Beck geographical map…
The Richmond and Wimbledon branches were both opened during the 1870s, followed by branches to Hounslow (the origin of the Heathrow branch of today’s Piccadilly line), Uxbridge (again handed over to the Piccadilly in the 1930s) and between 1883 and 1885, before being pared back to Ealing Broadway, Windsor (more on this later). The current eastern terminus of Upminster was reached (by a grant of running powers rather than new build) in 1902, and for a brief period as this reproduction postcard shows occasional District line trains ran to Southend and Shoeburyness…
Additionally, a branch to Kensington Olympia was created, which linked to a corresponding branch south from whatt is now the Hammersmith and City. Also, sometimes services ran from the district line north of Olympia to Willesden Junction. Additionally, there was a spur to South Acton and even briefly a terminus specifically to serve Hounslow Barracks.
In the 1930s a lot of the western services (Hounslow and Uxbridge specifically) were transferred to the Piccadilly line, while the Hounslow Barracks service ceased to exist, and the South Acton spur was abandoned.
Nevertheless, with main western termini at Wimbledon, Richmond and Ealing, and a cross branch serving Wimbledon, Edgware Road and Kensington Olympia the District remains a very complicated line.
Although I leave the eastern end of the line unchanged, my suggestions for the District involve some very dramatic changes. My plans for the Wimbledon, Edgware Road and Olympia branches will form the subject of a later post, and for the moment I will settle for saying that these branches would cease to form part of the District line, and that as with my changes involving branches that would remain part of the District line the plans involve making use of a feature that might otherwise be problematic (see The Great Anomaly), the fact that being one the older lines, this line was built to mainline specifications. Although my plans for the Richmond and Ealing branches are big, they involve only a small amount of new track – enough to link the lines that serve Windsor and Eton Riverside and Windsor and Eton Central forming a giant loop at the western end of the line. This loop would link with my suggested London Orbital Railway at Staines and at West Drayton. Thus in place of the current fiendishly complex District Line there would be ‘horizontal frying pan’ line, with Upminster to Turnham Green serving as the handle in this model. It would also make possible a reissue with appropriate modifications of this old poster…
A GUIDED TOUR OF THE PRESENT-DAY DISTRICT LINE
From Richmond to Gunnersbury the District and London Overground share a route, which features one of only two above-ground crossings of the Thames on the entire network (the other is Putney Bridge – East Putney on the Wimbledon branch of the District). Richmond features a deer park, as advertised on this old poster…
Kew Gardens actually has a pub that is built into the station, and serves a world famous botanic garden…
Gunnersbury is not very significant, although the flying junction that this branch forms with the rest of the District line just beyond here and just before Turnham Green is very impressive, to the extent that it too has featured in a PR campaign back in the day…
The section from Ealing Broadway to Acton Town includes a depot which features the steepest gradient on the system at 1 in 28 (passengers are not carried over this gradient – the steepest passenger carrying gradient is 1 in 32). At Ealing Common the District and Piccadilly lines converge, not to diverge again until the Piccadilly goes underground just east of Barons Court and even then, the Piccadilly follows the District at a deeper level until South Kensington. Between Acton Town and Turnham Green the District calls at Chiswick Park. After Turnham Green the District has stations at Stamford Brook and Ravenscourt Park. From the latter the remains of the viaduct that once carried trains from what is now the Hammersmith and City lines onto these tracks can still be seen. Beyond Hammersmith and Barons Court the District calls at West Kensington before arrving at the grand meeting point of Earls Court. Immediately east of Earls Court is Gloucester Road (pronounced glos-ta not glue-cess-ta – Americans please note), which at platform level has been restored to something like it would have looked in 1868, while the frontage at surface level is as nearly restored as the creation of a new shopping centre permits…
One stop further east at South Kensington is an original shopping arcade of the sort that several stations were provided with back in the day, complete with some splendid decorative ironwork (pictures photographed from London underground: The Official Handbook…)
One stop on from South Kensington is Sloane Square, which I remember from growing up in London is the station that served Peter Jones (a huge department store). Also, a large pipe above the platforms here is the only routinely visible sign of the river Westbourne (for more detail click here). From Sloane Square, the line visits Victoria (the ultimate transport hub). We are about enter a section of the journey featuring a lot of landmarks, so I will be giving each station I cover a section heading, starting with…
ST JAMES PARK
This station is the local station for London Underground’s official headquarters, located at 55 Broadway. It is also, along with Temple and Mansion House one only three stations on this section if the district to be served only by the district and circle lines.
The local station for the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey (officially the Collegiate Church of St Peter). The Abbey was originally founded by Edward the Confessor, who reigned from 1042-1066. While many look askance at the amounts of money trousered by folks in the House of Commons these people are at least elected, whereas in the House of Lords large sums of money go to people who are not elected, some of whom barely bother to attend and the vast majority of whom have demonstrated time and again that they are a waste of space. Even Baron Kinnock of Bedwelty, who has personally profited hugely from the existence of the House of Lords reckons that it is ripe for abolition. Since the opening of the warped (I will not dignify it with the word modified) Jubilee line extension in 1999 there has been an interchange here.
The station that has been through more name changes than any other on the system (people couldn’t decide whether Charing Cross, Embankment or both should be emphasised). The issue was put to bed for good in 1979 when the Jubilee opened, and its Charing Cross terminus created interchanges with what had previously been separate stations, Trafalgar Square on the Bakerloo line and Strand on the Northern, which meant that with Charing Cross definitively settled on for the marginally more northerly of the stations, this one had to be plain Embankment. The Embankment from which this station takes its name was designed as part of the building of this line by Joseph William Bazalgette, who also designed London’s sewer system. His great-great grandson Peter is a well known TV producer with some good series to his credit and Big Brother to his debit. This, photographed from the Piers Connor book is a diagram of the profile of the Embankment…
This is the only station name to feature both on London Underground and the Paris Metro (it also features on the Hong Kong network). In the days before the Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly line was axed there was an interchange here, as Temple is very close to Aldwych.
A station which derives its name from the Dominicans, who were referred to as black friars because of the colour of their habits. There is an interchange with both Thameslink and South Eastern here. Also, it is one end point of short scenic walk, which takes in a bridge over the Thames, Gabriel’s Wharf, The Oxo Tower, the Bernie Spain Gardens and the vast collection of attractions that between them constitute The South Bank, finally ending at Waterloo. Also if you go East instead of West after crossing the river you can take in the ruins of Winchester Palace (the former London residence of the Bishop of Winchester) and Clink Street, once home to a prison so notorious that ‘clink’ became slang for prison, a building that now houses London Dungeon, ending at London Bridge (you could continue yet further east – to Greenwich or even Woolwich were you feeling strong). I have done Waterloo – London Bridge and also Greenwich-London Bridge, and indeed Woolwich-Greenwich, so all these indvidual stretches are comfortably manageable. Also in this part of the world is Sainsbury’s main post-room where I once temped for a week (giving the agency feedback I took the opportunity to make it clear that I would not take any more work in that particular establishment – it was hell).
This name is either contradictory (a mansion is different from a house, being much larger) or tautologous (a mansion in a kind of large house) depending on your definitions. From 1871-1884 it was the eastern end of the District. The building after which the station is named is “the home and office of the Lord Mayor of the city of London” – an office filled four times by Richard Whittington (for once the story underplayed the the truth) in the fourteenth century.
A mainline rail terminus, albeit not a very significant one.
I mentioned this station in my post about the Central line because it is connected to the various lines that serve by Bank by means of escalators. This interchange was first created in 1933, but the current arrangement dates only from the opening of the Docklands Light Railway terminus at Bank.
At Aldgate East the Hammersmtih and City line joins the District and they run together as far as Barking. In between Aldgate East and Whitechapel there used be a line connecting to Shadwell (formerly East London Line, now London Overground). Whitechapel has been in the news recently because a museum that was given planning permission on the basis of being dedicated to the women of the East End turned out when it opened to be dedicated to Jack the Ripper. This has been the subject of a vigorous 38Degrees campaign seeking both to get the monstrosity closed and to establish a proper East End Womens Museum. Some of those involved in the campaign met with the mayor of Tower Hamlets recently, and he has apparently been sympathetic and has confirmed that he too is unhappy with the way the planning process was subverted by an act of calculated dishonesty. Beyond Whitechapel, the line has an interchange with the Central line at Mile End which is unique for an interchange between ‘tube’ and ‘subsurface’ lines in being cross-platform and underground, Bow Road, which has an interchange with the Docklands Light Railway station at Bow Church is the last station on the line to be in tunnel. East of Bow Road the line rises on a 1 in 45 gradient to emerge into the open some way before Bromley-by-Bow. West Ham is nowadays a major interchange, featuring mainline railways, the Jubilee line, the Docklands Light Railway (this section which runs from Stratford to Woolwich was once part of the line that became the nucleus of London Overground, which originally ran from Richmond to North Woolwich, but now terminates at Stratford) and of course the District and Hammersmith & City lines. The main line railway runs side by side with the District to Upminster, and then continues to Southend and Shoeburyness. Upton Park is until 2017, when the club in question move to the Olympic Stadium, the local station for West Ham United’s home ground. East Ham is now on the map as the location of a new trampoline park and laser maze. For more on this click on the picture below to read Time Out’s piece on the new attraction.
Barking in the eastern limit of the Hammersmith & City, also the terminus of London Overground branch from Gospel Oak and an interchange with mainline railways. Upminster is the easternmost destination currently served by London Underground.
EDGWARE ROAD, OLYMPIA AND WIMBLEDON
For this section I will be reverting to individual headings for station names…
A four platform station, where the Hammersmith & City line and the District and Circle lines meet (do not be fooled by the fact that both have stations called Paddington). This is the only one of the original 1863 stations to be served by District line trains.
PADDINGTON (PRAED STREET)
Why have I given this station a suffix that does not feature in it’s current title? Because the current plain “Paddington” designation is misleading – although the interchange to the Bakerloo line’s Paddington is a sensible one to have, you do far better for the mainline station and Hammersmith & City line to go on one stop to Edgware Road, make a quick cross-platform change to the Hammersmith & City and arrive at platforms that are structurally part of the mainline railway station (the two extra stops – one in each direction – plus a cross platform interchange taking less long between them than the official interchange up to the mainline station from here. Therefore to avoid misleading people the title of this station should either by given a suffix or changed completely, and the only interchange that should be shown is that with the Bakerloo. I have previously given Paddington a full post to itself, but failed to make the foregoing points with anything approaching sufficient force.
This station is on the north side of Hyde Park, and like the two on either side of it still has the same style of roof over the platforms as when it opened – a style now not seen anywhere else on the system.
This is the point at which this branch of the District diverges from the Circle line. The District branch continues south to the “Crewe of the Underground”, Earls Court, while the circle goes round to Gloucester Road (this section of track features in the Adventure of the Bruce Partington Plans, being the point at which the body of Arthur Cadogan West was fed through a rear window of a flat occupied by one Hugo Oberstein onto the roof of a conveniently stationary train, where it remained until being shaken off at Aldgate. Mycroft Holmes was sufficiently discombobulated by the case to change his routine (a thing so rare that his brother the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes likened it to seeing a tram car in a country lane) and pay a visit to Baker Street to seek assistance.
Trains to all manner of destinations pass through this station, but for the District it is a mere side branch..
An interchange with a London Overground branch. This station is fully open to the elements, as are all the others we have still to pass through.
The local station for Chelsea FC’s home ground, Stamford Bridge.
This would become a District line terminus, with an interchange to the new Hackney-Chelsea line, under official plans. In my personal ideas for the future it would be an interchange point but no terminus.
The local station for Fulham FC’s home ground, Craven Cottage. This would also be the best station to travel to if you wished to catch the Boat Race, second oldest of all the inter-university sporting contests.
The oldest of all the inter-university sporting contests is the Varsity Cricket Match, first played in 1827, two years before the first Boat Race took place.
This station is the first of a section that used to be mainline railway.
Another stop with a sporting connection – this is the local station for the world’s most famous tennis championship – Wimbledon. Although I have already given this station a full post, I show this picture again…
The second to last stop on our journey.
As we approach this station, we first join up with the mainline services from Waterloo coming in from Earlsfield, and then with Thameslink services coming in from Haydons Road. Wimbledon is also one terminus of the London Tram system. Along the north side of the tracks as one approaches Wimbledon runs Alexandra Road, and we pass underneath a bridge carrying Gap Road across the tracks to a junction.
ODDS AND ENDS
I have a few promotional pictures still to share, and some maps to round out this post. Other than that, I hope you enjoyed the ride…
Welcome to the latest addition to my series “London Station by Station“. My post on the Hammersmith and City line enjoyed some success, and my second essay in covering a whole line in one post, Project Piccadilly, was even more successful, featuring in two online publications. So now I am producing a third post of that type, this time on the Metropolitan line.
Metropolitan by name, very unmetropolitan by nature. Also, it is classed as London Underground, but most of its length is in the open air. The only stretch of this line is currently constituted that follows the original Metropolitan Railway is from just west of Farringdon to just east of Baker Street (The original eastern terminus was at Farringdon Street, just south of the present station, and the Metropolitan platforms at Baker Street (nos 1-4) are not those used by the original line). Almost the entire length of the current line (and there was once a lot more of it as you will see in due course) developed from…
A SINGLE TRACK BRANCH FROM BAKER STREET TO SWISS COTTAGE
In 1868 a single track spur was opened from the Metropolitan Railway running north from Baker Street to St John’s Wood Road, Marlborough Road and terminating at Swiss Cottage. It was this little spur that caught the attention of Edward Watkin, who saw it as having a role to play in achieving his dream of a rail network linking Paris, London and Manchester, his three favourite cities (he would have managed this had he not been baulked over his version of the Channel Tunnel, which eventually opened a century later).
That single track spur would be doubled, and from its next point north, Finchley Road, quadrupled and it would spread out into the hinterlands of Buckinghamshire, giving rise to a number of new branches. At its absolute height there were branches terminating at Uxbridge (sill present in its entirety), Stanmore (still served but not by the Met), Watford (still present as opened in 1925), Chesham (still as opened in 1889), Verney Junction (a place of no significance near modern day Milton Keynes) and Brill (at 51 miles from Baker Street the furthest point from London reached by any London Underground line). The latter two branches were closed in the middle 1930s, services terminating at Quainton Road just beyond Aylesbury for a time, until further paring back to Aylesbury (still served by mainline trains, with a new station at Aylesbury Vale Parkway just beyond Aylesbury itself) and finally Amersham, the current outlying point of the system, a mere 27 miles from Baker Street.
After the expansionism of Watkin, the third of the three great figures in the development of the Metropolitan took over, Robert Hope Selbie, creator of “Metroland”.
To help you orient yourself here are some maps…
To finish this section, The Stanmore branch, along with the intermediate stations between Finchley Road and Wembley Park, and new tube-level intermediates between Baker Street and Finchley Road was taken over by the Bakerloo line in 1939, and then to ease congestion on the latter by the new Jubilee line (with brand spanking new stations at Bond Street, Green Park and Charing Cross as well).
Of the Metropolitan branches that are still served by that line, the Amersham and Watford branches would be subsumed into my plans for a London Orbital Railway (Rickmansworth would be the northwestern corner of the orbital network itself, with a spur running via Amersham and Aylesbury to form significant connections at Oxford and/ or Milton Keynes (see the section above, and also my post “Ongar”). The Chesham branch would then become one of just two Metropolitan branches, with a northward extension to Tring and another interchange with mainline railways. The Uxbridge branch would remain unchanged, though gaining a connection with the Orbital route. At the other end, Aldgate would be abandoned as a terminus, the track connection from Aldgate East to Shadwell be revived for the Metropolitan, and a connection via New Cross to South Eastern tracks and Metropolitan services running through to Sevenoaks would further increase the London Underground presence in Southeast London and West Kent (see Project Piccadilly for another envisaged connection to this part of the world). The reason for projecting this line over existing track rather than looking at a completely new route is that is one of the old lines, built to mainline specifications and its tunnels were built using the cut-and-cover method, which makes building new tunnel sections more problematic than for a deep-level tube line.
THE TRANSITION POINT
At this stage of proceedings, having seen the Metropolitan lines past, present and a possible vision for its future we are going to make a journey along the line as it is currently constituted, so fasten your seatbelts…
ALDGATE – BAKER STREET
This section has been covered in great detail in previous posts of mine:
This is the last underground segment of the Metropolitan line, and you can see the platforms and some of the signs of old stations which were closed when the Bakerloo line Stanmore branch opened in 1939. Just before emerging into the open air, the Metropolitan tracks diverge to make way for the emerging Jubilee (former Bakerloo) tracks. From the platform at Finchley Road one can see the 1939 tunnel end. As at other places where ‘tube’ and ‘subsurface’ trains enter tunnels close together there are protective mechanisms to prevent a subsurface level train that gets on the wrong tracks from reaching (and colliding with) the beginning of a tube tunnel.
FINCHLEY ROAD – WEMBLEY PARK
There are no fewer than five Jubilee line stations between these two, all originally served by the Metropolitan and hence with platforms at the ‘compromise’ height also seen where the Piccadilly shares tracks with the District and Metropolitan lines. The Metropolitan has four tracks between Finchley Road and Moor Park and this feature is used to enable trains to Amersham to skip stops – they go fast from Finchley Road to Harrow-on-the-Hill and then fast from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Moor Park. On the route used by Watford and Uxbridge trains (there are currently few through services to Chesham) the next stop is Wembley Park. Whichever route you are on this section features the highest speeds anywhere on London Underground, in the vicinity of 70mph.
Wembley Park is the local station for Wembley Stadium. Between those who think that England has no need for a single national football stadium and those who think that the national football stadium should be in the midlands Wembley has a lot of detractors. I have sympathy with both the camps mentioned in the previous paragraph – I would not have gone for a national football stadium but even accepting the need for such, the midlands would have been the place to build it. I did get to the original Wembley once, to attend a mass given by the then pope, John Paul II.
WEMBLEY PARK TO HARROW-ON-THE-HILL
There are two intermediate stations between these two, Preston Road, which has been served since 1908 and Northwick Park, which opened only in 1923.By comparison, Harrow-on-the-Hill opened in 1880. Harrow-on-the-Hill is the first stop on the line from Marylebone to Aylesbury and it is also the point at which the Uxbridge branch of the Metropolitan diverges from the rest.
THE UXBRIDGE BRANCH
For more detail on this branch please consult Project Piccadilly. Rayners Lane, where the two lines converge for the run to Uxbridge is one of only two direct interchanges between the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines, the other being at that vast node point, King’s Cross St Pancras.
HARROW-ON-THE-HILL TO MOOR PARK
Amersham trains, as mentioned above, run non-stop between these two stations. Watford trains call on the way at North Harrow, Pinner, Northwood Hills (where Bodilsen UK had one of their shops when I worked for them as a data input clerk) and Northwood. Of these four stations, only Pinner (1885) dates from when the track was laid down, the others being later additions. Moor Park itself only opened in 1910, originally as Sandy Lodge, which became Moor Park & Sandy Lodge in 1923 and Moor Park in 1950. Moor Park marks the end of the section on which there is a division between slow and fast services. In the days before it was considered necessary to include all London Underground stations in travel card zones, Moor Park was the outermost station on the Metropolitan which could be legally visited on a travel card (the only other section of London Underground to be outside the travel card zones was the eastern end of the Central line, where the boundary station was Loughton). The other point of significance about Moor Park is that it is the divergence point for the…
Just two stations, Croxley and Watford, both opened in 1925. Croxley is less than 200 yards from Croxley Green, terminus of a minor side branch of the mainline railway from Watford Junction. This has given rise to various proposals involving linking the Metropolitan to Watford Junction. My own speculative scheme is for this branch, and the Croxley Green branch to form part of the northern leg of the London Orbital Railway, along with the Amersham branch, making use of the Rickmansworth-Watford curve, and another underused branch line between Watford and St Albans. For more on this part of the world I recommend F W Goudie and Douglas Stuckey’s book “West of Watford: Watford Metropolitan & the L.M.S Croxley Green and Rickmansworth branches. Also, do check out my post on Watford and Watford Junction.
Rickmansworth opened in 1887, and in 1925 link from Rickmansworth to Croxley on the Watford branch was opened, and subsequently closed in 1960. Rickmansworth is also the outermost station on the Metropolitan to have been shown on Henry C Beck’s first attempt at a schematic diagram of London Underground (one of the great design coups of the 20th century).
RICKMANSWORTH – CHALFONT & LATIMER
This section opened in 1889, with one intermediate station at Chorleywood. These days Chalfont & Latimer has two services running from it: through services from Aldgate to Amersham and a shuttle service to and from Chesham. Ironically given that it now has the minor role, Chesham opened first in 1889. In 1989 to celebrate the centenary a steam service ran through to Chesham, starting from Baker Street.
THE CHESHAM SHUTTLE
It took 50 years from the idea first being mooted for Chesham to acquire a train service. Edward Watkin, under whose aegis the line was opened envisaged a further northern extension making use of a natural gap in the Chilterns to connect with London and North Western (as it was in those days) at Tring. Further information about the Chesham branch and its history can be found in Clive Foxell’s book “The Chesham Shuttle”. The journey from Chalfont & Latimer to Chesham is the longest single stop journey on the system at 3.89 miles (a mere 24.3 times the length of the shortest, from Leicester Square to Covent Garden).
This is the end of our journey along the current Metropolitan line. It is the highest point above sea level anywhere on the system, 500 feet up in the Chilterns. Beyond here, the current main line continues to Great Missenden, Wendover, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway.
I hope you have enjoyed the ride so far. I will finish this post by making one final reference to my future vision of public transport in and around London, and the role of the Metropolitan in it. Given the closeness of its integration with the London Orbital Railway Network, and the fact that my envisaged south eastern extension utilizes London Overground, and that it would make sense for the London Orbital Railway to form the outer limits of the London Overground network, I could see the Metropolitan line being subsumed completely into a greatly expanded London Overground network, meaning either that the Metropolitan line would disappear from London Underground maps or that the Hammersmith and City line, which contains the entire surviving portion of the original Metropolitan Railway should be renamed the Metropolitan in deference to its history. Here a couple of map pics to finish, one a heavily edited shot from the Diagrammatic History an one showing the current Metropolitan line’s connections.
The Metropolitan line’s Uxbridge branch, on which Ickenham is located, opened in 1904. The District line started running services along there in 1910, and these were subsequently switched to the Piccadilly line in the 1930s. Central line services were extended to their current western terminus at West Ruislip in 1948.
The two stations are quite close together (about 10 mins walk apart at surface level) and the largest depot anywhere on the London Underground network also provides track connections between them, as it used by the Piccadilly, Metropolitan (Uxbridge) and Central (West Ruislip) lines. Also, unlike some other interchanges that go unacknowledged (e.g Belsize Park and Gospel Oak) it is not especially difficult to think of journeys where this interchange might be useful (Uxbridge to Hanger Lane is one example).
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…