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 is about a book I spotted in Fakenham Library after work yesterday and have thoroughly enjoyed reading.
A CLASSIC MODERN DETECTIVE STORY
London Underground dominates this story, as all the crimes happen at London Underground stations. As the story develops, it becomes clear that there are two different cases on the go, the one involving the mysterious Mr Fox that starts the action, and another involving a group of students at University College London (UCL).
One of the group of students is introduced to readers as a classic rich, spoilt brat. The latter part of the characterization is absolutely spot on, but it turns out that he is not nearly as rich as he pretends to be. His arrogance is such that he talks about crimes which include on legal terms one count of manslaughter, two of murder and one of attempted murder as “things that needed to be done”, showing no remorse at all.
The choice of names for the two key detectives (Arthur Bryant and John May, giving a partnership of Bryant & May) is more than a little cheesy, but that is my only gripe.
The author has done considerable research on London Underground, and makes only one tiny error, in describing North End as a closed station – in point of fact it was excavated at platform level but never actually opened.
This book is a superb read and I shall be keeping my eyes open for further books by this author.
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).