Welcome to the next installment in my station-by-station guide to London.
THREE STATIONS BECOME ONE
Paddington was one the original seven stations that opened as The Metropolitan Railway on January 10th 1863 – it was the western terminus of the line, although right from the start there were track links to the Great Western Railway, which supplied the Metropolitan with rolling stock before it developed its own. In 1864 the western terminus became Hammersmith, over the route of today’s Hammersmith and City line, and the origins of the station can still be seen because the H&C platforms are structurally part of the mainline station, although ticket barriers now intervene between them and the rest. The second set of London Underground platforms to be opened at Paddington were also originally opened by the Metropolitan, although they are now served by the Circle and the Edgware Road branch of the District line. They opened in 1868 as Paddington (Praed Street) – as opposed to Paddington (Bishop’s Road), the original 1863 station. In 1913 a northern extension of the Bakerloo line included a deep level station at Paddington. By 1948 the suffixes of both ‘surface’ stations had been dropped, and all three sets of platforms were known simply as Paddington.
A LITERARY DISAPPOINTMENT
In 2013, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Metropolitan Railway Penguin brought out a series of books, one for each line. I wrote about all of these books at the time, but I am going to mention Philippe Parreno’s “effort” about the Hammersmith and City line again. Given the line that contains all seven of the original 1863 stations Mr Parreno produced a book that contained no words, just a series of pictures. Had these pictures been meaningful and clearly associated with the line and its stations this might have been acceptable, but these pictures were blurry and meaningless (it was barely even possible to tell what they were supposed to be of).
OTHER LITERARY ASSOCIATIONS
Of course, when thinking of Paddington’s literary associations the one that springs instantly to mind is that with the fictional world’s best known refugee: Paddington Bear. Also however, Dr Watson (see “Baker Street” in this same series) had his first practice here after moving out of Baker Street to set up home with his wife (see A Scandal in Bohemia for more details).