St Albans and St Albans Abbey

INTRODUCTION

I was inspired to create this post by reading a wonderful piece about a walk in Roman St Albans by Debbie Smyth on travelwithintent, of which much more later. Walking will bulk quite large throughout this post.

TWO VERY DIFFERENT STATIONS

St Albans station is a reasonably major station just beyond the official boundary of Greater London. Services to this station are fast and fairly frequent – a non-stop service from St Pancras takes approximately 20 minutes to reach St Albans.

St Albans Abbey station is at the end of a small branch line with not very frequent services (I have travelled it more than once). The other end of the line is at Watford Junction, and there is at present no through connection. Here are some maps for your assistance…

The connections.
The connections.
A closer focus on the branch and two St Albans stations.
A closer focus on the branch and two St Albans stations.
The walking route between the two stations (extracted from google maps)
The walking route between the two stations (extracted from google maps)

SPECULATIVE SECTION

I have made mention of St Albans and its potentialities for greater public transport integration in a number of previous posts:

  • In “The Great Anomaly“, my post on the Metropolitan line, I mentioned it in explaining my idea for the using the Amersham and Watford branches (which would cease to be part of the Metropolitan) as part of an envisaged London Orbital Railway.
  • In my post on the Bakerloo Line I wrote about re-extending the Bakerloo to Watford Junction and then having it take over the St Albans Abbey shuttle service, with a through connection being established at Watford Junction.
  • In my post on the Central Line I explained in detail my envisaged London Orbital Railway and its connections.
  • In London Underground’s Worst Bodge Job, my post on the Northern line, I suggested splitting the line into two halves, with the Edgware/ Charing Cross half being extended north from Edgware as to Luton Airport Parkway, following the mainline from Elstree & Borehamwood on, and south from Kennington to Gatwick Airport.

Tying all these together my future for St Albans’ public transport connections involves:

  1. The Metropolitan’s current Watford scheme (extending to Watford Junction from Croxley, abandoning the current terminus) would be subsumed within the Orbital Railway, which would also make use of an adaptation of the plan outlined in Colne Valley Transit Proposal shown below:
    DSCN4159In my version of the scheme, which sees it become part of the London Orbital Railway, the Met keeps its Chesham terminus, and the new scheme runs service through Amersham.
  2. The Bakerloo takes over the St Albans Abbey branch, running services straight through to St Albans. As will be revealed later in this post I have an idea for a further possible extension in St Albans to increase integration.
  3. The Northern line Edgware and Charing Cross branches become the nucleus of a line running from Gatwick Airport to Luton Airport Parkway.

TWO GREAT WALKS

WALK 1: ROMAN ST ALBANS (DEBBIE SMYTH)

I start this section with the walk Debbie Smyth talks about in “A Roamin’ Walk through Roman St Albans“. To encourage you to read and comment on Debbie’s splendid post I offer you two pictures and the opening paragraph…

St Alban’s is first recorded as a Celtic British Iron Age settlement, known as Verlamion.  After the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43, it grew into Verlamium, the third largest town in Roman Britain…

The route map
The route map

To view the original map picture click here.

A sample picture (there are many more in the original)
A sample picture (there are many more in the original)

The original of the above picture can be viewed here.

To view the full post (and I reiterate my encouragement of you to do so) click here.

WALK 2: ST ALBANS – WATFORD
(FROM COUNTRY WALKS AROUND LONDON)

This walk, which I did many years ago when I still lived in London is also well worth a look. I have the route map, a picture showing the whole walk, and individual shots of each double page it occupies…

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Walk

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THE VERULAMIUM MUSEUM

Mention has already been made of St Albans’ significance in Roman times, and this final section adds to that by pointing to the Verulamium Museum as an establishment comfortably walkable from both stations at which you can find out more about this history. Here are some maps showing the walking routes…

Walking there from the minor station.
Walking there from the minor station.

To view the original of this map and written instructions, click here.

Walking there from the major station.
Walking there from the major station.

To view the original of this map and written instructions, click here.

The plan that occurred to me based on these maps (and it would need to very sensitively devised if it were to go ahead) was for an extension from St Albans Abbey to a dedicated station for the Verulamium Museum and then a new terminus at St Albans for an interchange to the main station.

I hope that you have all enjoyed this look at St Albans, a fascinating and historic town on London’s doorstep.

Chingford and Loughton

INTRODUCTION

Following on from my post “Epping – Gateway to London“, this post features two old stations and some prime walking territory.

CONTRASTING HISTORIES

Chingford opened in 1878 as part of the Eastern Counties Railway, which subsequently became the Great Eastern Railway, and until this local commuter line was subsumed into London Overground there were no other significant changes. It had originally been seen as being an intermediate station, but then a change to the status of Epping Forest effectively rendered extension impossible (and quite rightly so).

Loughton, also originally on an Eastern Counties/ Great Eastern Railway branch, first opened in 1856, with the Central line taking over the running of this branch from Stratford to its original terminus at Ongar in 1948-9 (it is not the oldest section of line to be run be London Underground – the northern end of the High Barnet branch of the Northern line, which opened under the aegis of the London & North Eastern Railway in 1841 has that distinction). The station building at Loughton, pictured below (from this original posted on 150greatthingsabouttheunderground) clearly shows its Victorian origins:

Loughton Station

For more information about the two stations here a couple of links:

Chingford
Loughton

WHY THE JUXTAPOSITION?

First off, the two stations are actually reasonably close together (although not close enough for even me to suggest that it would be worth showing a potential interchange between them), as this map shows…

Chingford - Loughton

Secondly, while looking for walks around Epping, I saw this walk from Chingford to Epping which passes High Beach Visitor Centre:

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I recalled the route down from this visitor centre to Loughton station, following the Loughton Brook as being an attractive one (I walked it, in both directions, several times when I was living in London). Thus, given the amount of material I already had for the Epping post I decided on a second post to make use of this find. Here is the map produced by the visitor centre website:

Epping Forest

Also, just to show you the length of the long walking route I have in mind, Chingford-High Beach Visitor Centre – Loughton, here are two more maps…

The first section of the walk, from Chingford.
The first section of the walk, from Chingford.
The second section of the walk, to Loughton
The second section of the walk, to Loughton

Incidentally, one can follow the Loughton Brook beyond Loughton to the point at which it flows into the river Roding as well.

MORE MAPS

The maps in this section, some old and some new, show more detail about these stations…

An A-Z double page spread.
An A-Z double page spread.
The digrammatic history.
The digrammatic history.
A geographical London Connections map (from the latter half of the 1990s)
A geographical London Connections map (from the latter half of the 1990s)
The 2015 London Connections map
The 2015 London Connections map
A tiny extract from a very old railway map of Britain.
A tiny extract from a very old railway map of Britain.

AFTERWORD – ON FARE ZONES

When I first visited that part of the world, Loughton had an extra distinction – it was the last point on the Central line that one could visit on a travel card (the Metropolitan also had stations outside the travel card zones – Moor Park being the boundary in that case). Nowadays all of London Underground falls within one or other fare zone, and there is a suggestion (massively endorsed by this site) on the table from London mayoral candidate Sian Berry that would further simplify matters.

Wood Green and Alexandra Palace

INTRODUCTION

This website grew out of series of blog posts that I dubbed “London Station by Station”, and this post is along those lines.

ONOSNOOKERTRIPLCROWN

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 home of The Masters snooker tournament, Alexandra Palace. Image from google: https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-rVSI8L_R9pw/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAAAAAOQ/iOf_mQ2ABr8/s0-c-k-no-ns/photo.jpg
The home of The Masters snooker tournament, Alexandra Palace. Image from google: https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-rVSI8L_R9pw/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAAAAAOQ/iOf_mQ2ABr8/s0-c-k-no-ns/photo.jpg

AN EXTENSION

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…

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A promotional map showing the central part of the Piccadilly, with some extensions visible...
A promotional map showing the central part of the Piccadilly, with some extensions visible…
Finsbury Park is followed as you go north by Manor House and Turnpike Lane, before yo get to Wood Green.
Finsbury Park is followed as you go north by Manor House and Turnpike Lane, before yo get to Wood Green.
Rolling out the new extension!
Rolling out the new extension!

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:

As this shows, Alexandra Palace and Wood Green are very close - and the two stations (one rail, one underground) are both comfortably walkable from the main attraction.
As this shows, Alexandra Palace and Wood Green are very close – and the two stations (one rail, one underground) are both comfortably walkable from the main attraction.

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.

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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…

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Plans for Edgware Road – Wimbledon/ Kensington Olympia

INTRODUCTION

In my post on the District line, originally published on aspiblog, I presented a scheme that would see the western end of the line turned into a giant loop, incorporating two suburban railway branches which currently serve Windsor & Eton. I deferred covering my plans for the remaining branches other than indicating that they would not remain part of the District. I am now going to fill in that gap.

LONDON OVERGROUND AND FURTHER INTEGRATION OF THE SYSTEM

The Metropolitan and District lines and their spin offs such as the Hammersmith and City line were built to the same specifications as main line railways, and I make use of this fact. Put simply, this section of the district would become the nucleus of a new section of London Overground. Kensington Olympia is already part of London Overground, and I would run trains on this branch, which might approach under my scheme from either Wimbledon or Edgeware Road through by way of the existing Willesden Junction connection to Watford Junction and a connection to my envisaged London Orbital Railway, outlined in this post. Edgware Road serves little purpose as a terminus station, and I would do one of two things to improve this situation:

  1. Project this route over existing tracks to Aldgate East, reopen the old track link from Aldgate East to Shadwell, connecting to that section of London Overground (formerly the East London Line).
  2. A more modest extension along the north side of the Circle line, followed by establishing a track connection to the Thameslink platforms at Farringdon, then utilising the currently unused former Thameslink platforms at Barbican and Moorgate, giving this part of the network a connection to the city.

That leaves the Wimbledon spur to attend to. A southern extension would provide this with a connection to the orbital mentioned earlier in this piece, and a further southern extension beyond the orbital would afford yet further connections to main line rail services. The full extension would run as follows from Wimbledon: Bushey Mead, Motspur Park, Malden Manor, Tolworth, Hook (connection to the orbital), Claygate, Oxshott, Pachesham Park, Leatherhead, Boxhill & Westhumble and Dorking.

DORKING INTERCHANGE

The Dorking terminus is not just because from Leatherhead the line follows an existing route. It also opens up some extra connections – southwards to Horsham, and also a very short walk enables one to get to Dorking Deepdene station and a line that runs from Reading to Redhill.

A map, courtesy of google, showing the short distance between Dorking main station and Dorking Deepdene
A map, courtesy of google, showing the short distance between Dorking main station and Dorking Deepdene
Connections in and around Dorking.
Connections in and around Dorking.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THESE ROUTES

I am going to start my metaphorical journey at…

DORKING

Aside from the connections already mentioned, Dorking has a place in cricket history as the birthplace of Harry Jupp. Jupp was an adhesive (in more ways than one as we shall see) opening batsman, who with designated gloveman Edward Pooley still confined in a New Zealand prison after a fracas there, kept wicket for England in the first ever Test Match in March 1877. Once playing in a benefit game in his home town he was bowled early on and coolly replaced the bails. On being asked “ain’t you going Juppy?”, he said “No, not at Dorking”. This line of Jupp’s was subsequently used as the title of a radio programme about cricket history.

BOXHILL AND WESTHUMBLE

This station is the start and end point for a  splendid walk on which many moons I go I led a walking group of which I was part. The website www.walkingclub.org.uk has a Box Hill walk which you can view here.

WIMBLEDON

As well as offering interchanges to mainline railways and the Croydon Tramlink, Wimbledon has much to offer in its own right. Wimbledon Common, home of the Wombles is here. It is a great place to walk around, and for those who like to follow a set route, walk 81 in 100 Walks In Greater London starts at Wimbledon Station and takes you across Wimbledon Common and adjoining Putney Heath to finish at East Putney Station…

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The book can be bought from Book Depository (free worldwide delivery) for £8.99

SOUTHFIELDS

This is the local station for the most famous tennis championships in the world, covered in detail in this postFor those who want to look ahead, the Wimbledon 2016 website is already available for viewing.

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PUTNEY BRIDGE

One of various points from which you can watch the Boat Race (second oldest of the “varsity” sports contests – the first varsity cricket match was played in 1827, two years before the first boat race). Also the home station for Fulham FC, who number Richard Osman of Pointless fame among their fans.

PARSONS GREEN

Under previous plans for a Hackney-Chelsea line, District line trains would have terminated here. In my scheme, this station would be an interchange between London Overground and the Woking-Chelmsford line (my extended version of the Hackney-Chelsea as described here).

BROMPTON ROAD

The London Overground route from Clapham Junction to Kensington Olympia has a stop here, so this would be a link between the existing London Overground network and the extensions thereof proposed in this post.

EARLS COURT

Although at the moment there is no London Overground station at Earls Court, this would change in my scheme, to provide interchange with the District and Piccadilly lines. While pretty much everything else to be said about Earls Court is contained within my previous post “Triangle Sidings“, I include here a link to the website of the Save Earls Court campaign, who are fighting to prevent demolition of the historic exhibition centre.

Beyond Earls Court our route diverges, one branch heading north via Kensington Olympia to Watford Junction and the northern and western parts of my planned Orbital Railway, while the other goes to Edgware Road, and thence on to Baker Street, Great Portland Street and one of two possible developments beyond there.

It is that latter section that I am going to concentrate on next, starting with…

HIGH STREET KENSINGTON

This station is now directly below a major shopping centre, and therefore has no surface level building.

NOTTING HILL GATE

This station has been the subject of a full length blog post, which I reproduce below…

A CARNIVAL, A THEATRE AND A FILM

The District and Circle line station at Notting Hill Gate was opened in 1868. In 1900 The Central London Railway, forerunner of today’s Central line, opened between Shepherd’s Bush and Bank, with a station at Notting Hill Gate. It was not until 1959 that the two stations were officially linked. There is no surface building at all, merely a staircase leading down from each side of the main road to an underground ticket hall. The District and Circle line platforms still have their original roof, a remarkable arched canopy.

NOTTING HILL

Probably these days this film is what most people think about when this area comes up. I did enjoy it the one time I watched it, but I am far from being convinced that it actually did the area any favours.

THE GATE

Taking it’s name from the pub above which you can find it, The Gate Theatre has staged some remarkable productions in its tight confines. I remember seeing several plays by Lope De Vega performed there.

THE NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL

Before the making of the film, this was what the area was most widely known for – London’s biggest annual street festival. Unfortunately beyond mentioning it I can say little of it because I never attended since neither vast crowds nor continuous loud noise have ever appealed to me.

ODDS AND ENDS

Before displaying a couple of pictures, a little more about the area. The layout and some of the names of the streets in this part of London reflect the fact that a racecourse was planned for the area but the developers went bankrupt. Now for those pictures…

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The Diagrammatic History

PADDINGTON (PRAED STREET)

Here is some detailed information about this station. I am going to top it up with this which has previously appeared in the piece about the District Line but bears repeating because it is quite immportant.

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.

EDGWARE ROAD

The current terminus of this branch of the District, but under my scheme will be an ordinary through station.

BAKER STREET

Lots of detail about this station:

HISTORY, HORROR AND DETECTIVES

Baker Street was one of the original stations that opened in 1863 as The Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground public transport system, on January the 10th 1863. Those platforms, two of 10 at that station (the most on the entire system) to be served by underground trains, are still in service today, and have been restored to look as they would have done when first opened. Ironically, they are no longer served by the Metropolitan line, which uses two terminal and two through platforms just to the north of the originals, its tracks joining those of the Hammersmith and City and Circle lines just east of Baker Street. By way of explanation I turn to Douglas Rose’s London Underground: A Diagrammatic History


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The other two lines that serve this station are the Bakerloo and Jubilee lines. Baker Street is a division point between the old and new Jubilee lines – south of Baker Street is all new track, northwards old, dating from 1939, when it was opened as a branch of the Bakerloo, taking some of the strain of the Metropolitan by taking over services to Stanmore and assuming sole responsibility for intermediate stops between Baker Street and Finchley Road, and also between Finchley Road and Wembley Park. When the Jubilee opened in 1979 it comprised the old Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo and three stations south of Baker Street.

Reverting temporarily to the Metropolitan, those four platforms at Baker Street, from which trains go to a variety of destinations developed from what started as a single track branch going only as far as Swiss Cottage. It grew out of all recognition during the tenure of Edward Watkin, who saw the Metropolitan as a crucial link in his plan for a railway system to link his three favourite cities, London, Paris and Manchester. At one time, as my next picture shows, the Metropolitan went far beyond it’s current reach…

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Baker Street is home to Madame Tussaud’s which merits a visit. The Planetarium that used to be next door to Madame Tussaud’s has been relocated to Greenwich while the old Planetarium building is now part of Madame Tussaud’s.

Of course, no post about Baker Street would be complete without something sbout it’s most famous ever resident, Mr Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective.

I am an avid fan of the great detective, having read all the original stories and many modern stories that feature the great detective. As well as owning a respectable collection of my own, I regularly borrow books about this subject from the libraries that I use…

A remarkable recent find.

The great originals.

Some of my modern Holmes stories.

To end this post, along with my customary hopes that you have enjoyed it and that you will share it, a couple more maps, first a facsimile of the original Beck map of 1933 and then for comparison a facsimile of the 1926 Underground Map…

When Beck first produced a prototype of this map in 1931 his superiors thought that no-one would like it - but eventually they agreed to a trial of it in 1933, and now every public transport system in the world uses schematic diagrams of this type.

When Beck first produced a prototype of this map in 1931 his superiors thought that no-one would like it - but eventually they agreed to a trial of it in 1933, and now every public transport system in the world uses schematic diagrams of this type.

For more about the last two maps above check out this dedicated post.

FARRINGDON

The current Farringdon station opened in 1865, when the Metropolitan Railway (as it then was) expanded eastward for the first time from the old terminus just to the south of here at Farringdon Street (it had already reached west to Hammersmtih in 1864). As the colours of the heading indicate it is currently served by the Hammersmith and City, Circle and Metropolitan lines. There is also an overground station served by Thameslink.

I have a couple of shots from an old A-Z to show the area at surface level…

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For three months in 1997 I worked (for experience plus travel expenses) at Interpretations, based in Bakers Yard, the near the junction of Farringdon Road and Rosebery Avenue, the first job I ever had.

Also, tying in with two of my interests (real ale and English literature), just to the north of this junction is a pub called the Betsey Trotwood, which I would recommend anyone to visit.

Just south of here is City Thameslink, a train station with exceptionally long platforms, owing to the fact that it was created by amalgamating two old stations, Holborn Viaduct and Ludgate Hill into one.

I end but setting this historic station in context with the aid of the Diagrammatic History…

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The Diagrammatic History

ALDGATE EAST

This is the point at which the other version of my scheme would part ways with the Hammersmith and City, making use of an old track link to Shadwell, and a link up to that section of London Overground.

SHADWELL

An interchange between London Overground and the Docklands Light Railway.

WAPPING

This is the deepest station to have been built using the old cut-and-cover method of construction, 60 feet below the surface. The tunnel connecting this station to Rotherhithe was originally opened as a pedestrian tunnel. This project was designed by Marc Isambard Brunel, and when the chief engineer died and he needed to find a quick replacement he gave his son the job. Isambard Kingdom Brunel proved more than adequate for the task in hand, and an illustrious engineering career was launched.

CANADA WATER

A new station on a very old section of track, this station was created to provide an interchange between the Jubilee line and what was then the East London line.

SURREY QUAYS

This in the old days of the East London line used by a bifurcation point, but is now a trifurcation point, with lines going to New Cross, West Croydon & Crystal Palace (via New Cross Gate, the other original terminus) and Clapham Junction.

At this point we will revert to our other section beyond Earls Court, that going via Kensington Olympia.

WILLESDEN JUNCTION

This is two stations in one, with a low level station featuring the Bakerloo line and London Overground (the branch we will be joining), and a high level station featuring the original Silverlink Metro line that became the nucleus of London Overground, which started life as a Richmond-North Woolwich service and is now Richmond – Stratford, with the section beyond Stratford incorporated into the Docklands Light Railway.

HARROW AND WEALDSTONE

The current northern terminus of the Bakerloo Line.

WATFORD JUNCTION

The first stop for long-distance trains from London Euston.

AN EXTRA SPECULATION

Astute observers who have reached this point may have noted that my suggested extension along the north side of the Circle makes use that lines platforms at Liverpool Street, and that there are actually some London Overground services that currently depart from Liverpool Street. Although it would require much ore work, which is why I have not listed it as something for current consideration, I could envisage the creation of a track link from Moorgate to a point just beyond Liverpool Street on that section of London Overground, and through running of services to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town.

CONCLUSION

This is the first time I have produced an entirely speculative post, as post to including a speculative section in a post about a current line. Whether it has worked or not is up to you to decide, but I have enjoyed creating it.