London Underground at 160 years old and a couple of cricket bits, plus some photographs.
I have a number of things to post about, and will cover them in order.
LONDON UNDERGROUND 160
On January the 10th 2023 London Underground, the oldest underground railway system in the world, turned 160. From a modest seven stations when what was then called the Metropolitan Railway opened (this section of track is now part of the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines, but only Great Portland Street to Farringdon feature today’s Metropolitan line (the Metropolitan line platforms at Baker Street, two terminal platforms and two through platforms are later additions after the network began to expand, while platforms 5-6 have been restored to look as close to the 1863 originals as feasible) the system has grown to almost 300 stations and over 250 miles of track. After the initial opening, the biggest development was the development of electric locomotives, which enabled the opening of lines running further below ground and built with less surface level disruption, making use of the blue clay on which London sits and the Greathead Shield. The first deep level tube line, the City & South London Railway, now part of the Northern line, opened in 1890.
Big Bash League
Yesterday (I missed today’s game because of an important meeting) Brisbane Heat took on Perth Scorchers. Heat looked set for a formidable total when they reached the halfway stage of their innings at 80-2, but a disastrous third quarter of the innings, including a Power Surge that they took at a sensible time but failed miserably to cash in on yielded 25-2, and even with a decent final quarter of their innings they mustered 155 from their 20 overs, respectable but not the truly formidable score that looked on at halfway. Scorchers began poorly in response, managing only 25-2 in the opening four overs, but Heat then blundered, entrusting the fifth over to part time leggie Marnus Labuschagne. No fewer than 20 runs were plundered from that over. Even so, at the halfway stage of the chase Scorchers were still fractionally behind the rate, being 75-2, needing 81 off the last ten. It was the third quarter of the Scorcher’s allocation that killed the game – where Heat had scored 25-2 from overs 11-15, Scorchers, who also took their Power Surge in this period, and in their case made excellent use of it, scored 60-0 from overs 11-15. The winning hit was a six, off the second ball of the 17th over, with the third wicket pair still together. Scorchers top the table, with a game in hand on their closest challengers as well, while Heat are currently stone last, though they have a game in hand on the team immediately above them.
AUSTRALIA CANCEL TOUR OF AFGHANISTAN
Australia were due to tour Afghanistan but have cancelled that tour in protest at the activities of the Taliban. This has caused considerable controversy, but I, old enough to remember South Africa’s isolation (caused by racial rather than sexual discrimination, though I suspect the likes of Balthazar Johannes Vorster were as misogynist as they were racist) am entirely in favour of the move (please note that individual South Africans were allowed to play in domestic competitions around the world, they were just not allowed to compete under the banner of South Africa) and hope that other countries will stand up to be counted.
I am giving you a link to my latest post on http://www.londontu.be, and two extracts. Please note that the original contains lots of pictures.
AN EXCITING DEVELOPMENT AND A SUGGESTED NAME CHANGE
While on twitter I spotted a tweet about a development called Woodberry Wetlands and being impressed by what I saw decided to do some digging. I soon established that the site is practically next door to Manor House station, and it did not take much longer, having located anofficial website to decide that this was something entirely worthy of my support – cherishing nature while being deep within the capital city. For those who (like me) dotwitter, they have a presence there too…
There is historical precedence for name changes on the Piccadiilly line – the name of Gillespie Road station was changed to Arsenal at the request of the club’s then general manager Herbert Chapman. I respectfully suggest that this project outweighs a mere football club in importance and that TFLwould be well advised to at least consider changing the name of Manor House station to Woodberry Wetlands (effective from May 1st)….
Flagging up my website (www.londontu.be) post about the Northern line, released on the 125th anniversary of that line opening
This is both another shout out about my website, www.londontu.be and a flag up of what is probably my longest ever post.
AN EPOCHAL DATE
On December 18th, 1890, the City & South London Railway opened, covering a modest six stops, from Stockwell to King William Street. This little line marked the breaking of a new frontier in public transport – making use of the blue clay on which London is built it was in deep level tube tunnels, a technique made possible by the development of electric locomotion as an alternative to steam. This City & South London is now part of the line that in my website post I dubbed London Underground’s Worst Bodge Job – The Northern line.
I hope that you will share this, and also read my website post and spread the word both about the post itself and the website.
Keen followers of this blog may remember a piece I did a while back under the title “Special Post – South Kensington”. You should also know that since I produced that post which was the first piece of London Underground themed writing that I shared publicly I have created a London transport themed website, www.londontu.be…
UPDATING AN ORIGINAL
I have just put up a post on that site covering South Kensington, as I thought that there should be a post on the site that mentions where it all started. I urge you all to read and share the new version of the South Kensington post.
A flag-up of the latest piece on my London Transport themed website.
The latest post on my London Transport themed website looks at the paucity of mentions of London Underground in the official canon of stories about the world’s most famous consulting detective (from whose rooms Baker Street station is visible vide The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet).
Only one of the original canon of Sherlock Holmes stories features any action on what is now London Underground, the Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, which features tracks on today’s Metropolitan, District, Circle and Hammersmith & City lines. In The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet mention is made of the fact that Baker Street station is visible from 221B. The rest of this post is going to examine that lacuna from the London Underground viewpoint.
As well as the title piece, I have some good pictures from in and around King’s Lynn to share. These date from Monday, when I attended an NAS West Norfolk coffee morning.
HOME PAGE CLEAN
I have modified the home page on www.londontu.be so that the original stuff that came with the Hathor Theme that I selected is no longer on show, replaced with my own stuff.
With a bit of moisture to highlight the silk, Monday was an excellent today for photographing spiders webs – and King’s Lynn rivals Mirkwood for quantity of spider webs if not for size or scariness of occupants thereof…
Neither were the birds at all put off by the weather…
An announcement of a new website I shall be running, with a picture of my envisaged home page.
A knackered power lead/ charger cable put my computer out of action on Wednesday, and because Thursday was a working day it was only today that I was able to locate a replacement. All is now well again, so I take this opportunity to make
The series of posts I have been running on this blog under the general heading “London Station by Station” is going become a website – I have the domain name (londontu.be), but please DO NOT visit it yet – it is still under construction. As a little sampler I offer you this screenshot of my envisaged home page, together with a link to the document itself…
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. 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…
The Central Line gets the aspiblog treatment! Along the way a wide variety of attractions are mentioned, plenty of pictures are shown and past, present and one vision of the future are covered.
Welcome to the latest addition to the series of posts themed around public transport in London. Although the main theme is the Central line, there is going to be much more in the speculative section than usual for reasons that will become obvious.
The first proposals for a Central London Railway were made in 1892, and the CLR opened, running from Shepherd’s Bush to Bank, in 1900.
Early proposals for extensions to this line included turning it into a loop, with a smaller loop through Liverpool Street to the east of the main line (think Ptolemy’s epicycles!).
After this was rejected, there were two plans involving connections to Richmond…
Neither of these went through either. In the 1930s two proposals, both involving existing lines operated by mainline railway companies did ultimately lead to serious extensions (before these two were incorporated into the line it still only ran from Liverpool Street to Ealing Broadway)…
When Central line trains started running to West Ruislip in 1957, the line had taken the shape it would have until 1994, with the closure of the Ongar end of the line. More about this and the history of the line can be found in J. Graeme Bruce and Desmond F. Croome’s book “The Twopenny Tube” (named in honour of the Central London Railway’s original flat fare back in 1900).
Another sine qua non for anyone interested in the Central line is Danny Dorling’s “The 32 Stops”, which takes us on a journey from West Ruislip to Woodford (the section of line within Greater London), and is comfortably the best of Penguin’s 150th anniversary series (albeit not by as big a margin as the Parreno travesty in connection with Hammersmtih & City line is the worst).
As mentioned in my introduction, this going to be detailed, because between the western and eastern ends of the Central line and my ideas for the Hainault loop I pretty much have to go in to detail regarding my vision of a London Orbital Railway. To set the scene, my plans for the southern portion of the Hainault loop are an extended version of the plans for a Hackney-Chelsea line shown on this adapted 1994 Journey Planner…
Rather than this proposal, which abbreviates but does not eliminate the Wimbledon branch of the district, my plan puts the central and Hainault loop portions of that line into a longer, better integrated whole that runs from Woking to Chelmsford. As for the northern part of the loop, that will have to wait for a later post except to say that trains running that side of the loop would follow the new line from Hainault to Chelsmford and that the rest of the plan also involves the Victoria line.
THE LONDON ORBITAL RAILWAY
This is not to be a completely new route, but to utilise existing track where possible, and link up all the major rail networks around London. In this vein, the points selected to be the extremities of the system are all major railway stations on exisiting networks. These are Maidstone East (Southeastern corner), Woking (Southwestern corner), Oxford (Northwestern corner, selected for historical reasons and Chelmsford (Northeastern corner). Oxford is on a spur which connects to the true orbital part of the network at Rickmansworth, having passed through Brill, Aylesbury, Amersham and Chalfont & Latimer en route (see my Metropolitan line post for more detail). Southwards from Rickmansworth it travels to Northwood, Ruislip Common, West Ruislip, Ickenham, South Ruislip, Hillingdon, Uxbridge, Uxbridge Moor, Cowley, Little Britain, Yiewsley, West Drayton, Harmondsworth, Heathrow Terminals 1,2 and 3, Heathrow Terminal 4, Stanwell, Ashford (Surrey), Staines, Laleham, Chertsey, Addlestone, West Byfleet (from where there is a spur to Woking). East from West Byfleet, the line would run Weybridge, Hersham, Esher, Hinchley Wood, Hook, Chessington South, Ewell West, Cheam, Sutton, West Croydon, East Croydon, Addiscombe, Shirley, Spring Park, West Wickham, Hayes, Keston, Locksbottom, Farnborough (Kent), Green Street Green, Chelsfield, Well Hill, Lullingstone Park, Eynsford, Maplescombe, with a spur to West Kingsdown and Maidstone. North from Maplescombe the line would then proceed to Farningham, Horton Kirby, Farningham Road, Sutton-at-Hone, Darenth, Fleet Downs, New Town, Dartford, Joyce Green, Purfleet, Aveley, Wennington, Upminster, Emerson Park, Ardley Green, Harold Wood, Harold Hill, Noak Hill, St Vincents Hamlet, Great Baddow and Chelmsford. Finally, west from Chelmsford it would head to Ongar, Broxbourne, Hertford East, Hertford North, Welwyn Garden City, St Albans, Watford Junction and completing the circle at Rickmansworth (see my previous posts, “Watford and Watford Junction” and “The Great Anomaly” for more details on this connection). Ideally every London Underground line (except the Circle for the obvious reason and the Waterloo & City) would have a connection to somewhere on this orbital route as well.
THE WOKING TO CHELMSFORD LINE
The Hackney-Chelsea line as shown in the adapted 1994 journey planner takes over the southern half of the District line’s Wimbledon branch. If it took over the entire branch, with an interchange to the District at Earls Court I could see the logic, but I see little point in taking over half a branch. Thus, my proposal for a more logical and better integrated Hackney-Chelsea line runs as follows: Woking, West Byfleet, Walton-on-Thames, Hersham, Fieldcommon, Hampton Court (there are actually at least three locations with this title, one in the midlands, one in King’s Lynn, and this one which is the parvenu of the three), Teddington, Ham, Petersham, East Sheen, Barnes Bridge, Castelnau, Parsons Green, from which it would follow the original as far as Hainault.
From Hainault, this line would then run to Chigwell Row, Lambourne End, Stapleford Abbots, Navestock, Kelvedon Hatch, Doddinghurst, Loves Green, Great Baddow and Chelmsford.
POSSIBLE EXTENSIONS TO THE CENTRAL ITSELF
Although West Ruislip is itself on the orbital route, my plan in the interest of greater integration would see the Central line run alongside the orbital through Ruislip Common and Northwood to Rickmansworth (and possibly services on the orbital would skip the two intermediate stops). This would give the Central line direct interchanges to both the northern and western segments of the orbital at that end. The Ealing Broadway branch would be extended by taking over the Greenford branch from mainline railways, and then rather than terminating at Greenford, services via Ealing would run through to Rickmansworth (yes there is scope for confusion, but I still think it could be made to work). Finally, the eastern end of the line would lose the Hainault loop, but the Eppin-Ongar section would be reopened, and then a further extension of 11.4 miles would take the line to Chelmsford, thereby connecting to both the northern and eastern segments of the orbital. The map below shows the area through which such an extension would run:
As you can see, this would give the Central line connection to three of the four segments of the orbital. I also have an idea for completing the set, namely reviving the old project for a Richmond extension, diverging from the main line at Shepherds Bush and running as follows: Seven Stars Corner, Bedford Park, rising to the surface at Gunnersbury, running along current District tracks to Richmond, and then calling additionally at Twickenham, Hanworth, Sunbury, Upper Halliford, Shepperton, Lower Halliford, Oatlands Park, Weybridge, West Byfleet and Woking.
Having had a look at the history of the line, and also at a vision for future developments it is a time to change tack, and as with the posts about the Hammersmith and City, Piccadilly and Metropolitan lines we will now journey along the existing line.
We start our journey on the section of the line along which life expectancy falls by two months per minute of journey time (see the Dorling book):
The western point of the line, and the starting point for the longest continuous journey currently makeable on London Underground – 34.1 miles to Epping. The mainline railway from Marylebone calls at this station en route the High Wycombe, Banbury and Birmingham among other places, but although the railway snakes away into the distance the station has a fairly rural aspect. For more please see my previous post “West Ruislip and Ickenham”
The point at which the railway into Marylebone diverges from the Central line.
The northern terminus of a small branch line from Ealing, which as I have already indicated I see as being suitable for being subsumed into the Central line. As currently constituted the station, which is elevated, although not quite so dramatically as Alperton on the Piccadilly line has three platforms, two through platforms for the Central and a single terminal platform for the branch line. In my scheme this would become four platforms, all operated by the Central line. Greenford is also notable for the presence of the old Hoover building (now a Tesco superstore).
The last station on this branch before the joining point at North Acton, this area is chiefly notable for four words capable in conjunction of reducing any London based motorist to a quivering wreck: Hanger Lane Gyratory System (a very regular feature of traffic bulletins for those who listen to the radio):
Before we continue our journey eastwards, we have a small gap to fill (no branches ignored by this writer)…
The other western terminus of this line, a junction with the District and with mainline railways (although trains going that far do not call at Ealing Broadway this is the original Great Western Railway, along which trains travel to Penzance, West Wales (the divergence point between these two routes is at Bristol) and also up to Banbury via Oxford).
One of no fewer than seven stations in London to feature Acton as part of its name (the other two Actons on the Central, Acton Town on the District and Piccadilly, South Acton and Acton Central on London Overground and Acton Mainline on First Great Western), and the only other station besides Ealing Broadway on this branch.
The point at which, in our direction of travel, the Ealing and West Ruislip branches merge.
Although the stadium is long since gone, and built over, this was the site of London’s first Olympics in 1908. These games may well have saved the Olympics, because although the first modern Olympics at Athens in 1896 had been a great success, and the intercalated games of 1906 back at Athens almost equally so, the 1900 and 1904 games were both in differing ways epic fails. Paris 1900 represents the only occasion on which the Olympics have been in the shadow of another event (the Exposition Universelle) – to such an extent that some of the medal winners were not even aware of the significance of their achievement. As for St Louis 1904, a combination of absurdly long duration (in excess of three months), and the cost of travel for non-Americans meant that it was more like an inter-college tournament than an international event. Just to make things even worse, after the games proper were finished, the organisers staged what they called “Anthropological Games” (I leave this to your imagination!).
These games, centred on a stadium designed by Charles Perry specifically for the occasion (he also got the same gig for Stockholm 1912 – he must have been good), were tremendously successful. There were a couple of unsavoury incidents, the ‘Dorando Marathon’, where Dorando Pietri of Italy entered the stadium first, but on the point of collapse, was assisted by officials, and the Americans submitted a protest on behalf of the second athlete into the stadium, their own John Joseph Hayes, which was upheld. The other incident also involved American athletes, two of whom deliberately crowded Wyndham Halswelle (GB) in the mens 400m, causing a British judge to declare the race void and order a rerun, which the Americans refused to take part in.
Among the other medallists was J W H T Douglas (better known as a cricketer – those who saw him bat reckoned those initials stood for Johnny Won’t Hit Today) who won gold in the middleweight boxing.
The station at White City was originally called Wood Lane…
Having said a lot about White City, other than a brief pointer to my previous post “Notting Hill Gate” I am going to skip several stops before paying a call at…
This is first of a run of four stations served by the Central line that take you through London’s best known shopping area. Speakers Corner is a few minutes walk from this station.
Once upon a time this station had a frontage designed by Charles Holden, but that has long since gone, as the space directly above the station is now a shopping centre called West 1 (name taken directly from the postcode). Bond Street, currently served by the Central and Jubilee lines, is one of the places that will be served by East-West crossrail. Also, Bond Street is the local station for a well known classical music venue, Wigmore Hall…
One of the busiest stations on the entire network, there are interchanges with the Central and Bakerloo lines here. Also, in conjunction with Bond Street, and the Bakerloo line route from here to Piccadilly Circus, which follows the curve of Regent Street, this comes closest of any stretch of London Underground to including a complete set of monopoly board properties.
TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD
The last of the four station sequence along London’s two best known shopping streets, this station has undergone huge redevelopment…
I covered Holborn in “Project Piccadilly“, and Chancery Lane deserves only a brief mention for the fact that officially, “The City” starts here, which bring us to…
The current St Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Christopher Wren (there is stone in there with a message carved on it reading “If you seek my monument look all around you”), is the third on the site in its long history. St Pauls is also the closest station to the Museum of London through one window of which you can view a still standing section of the old walls of the Roman trading post Londinium.
The heart of “The City”. The Central was the third line to serve a Bank, following the Waterloo and City (opened 1898, the second oldest of the deep level tube lines), and the City & South London, extended here in anticipation of the opening of the Central in early 1900. There are escalators connecting the various lines at Bank (including the Docklands Light Railway) to Monument (District and Circle, opened 1884). This latter station takes its name from another Wren creation, which stands 202 feet tall and is precisely 202 feet from the spot where the Great Fire of London started in 1666.
Skating over Liverpool Street, we come next to…
Bethnal Green features in some of Edward Marston’s Railway Mysteries, as an area so forbidding that even the exceedingly tough Sergeant Leeming does not relish visiting it. Also, Bethnal Green is home to the Museum of Childhood, which is definitely well worth a visit.
Although there are some small sections of the Central that are in tunnel east of here, this is the last station in the continuous underground section that begins at Shepherd’s Bush. As mentioned in my Hammersmith and City line post the interchange here is a unique one.
As currently constituted this is the easternmost station on the Central to have an interchange to other lines (The Jubilee, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, mainline local, national and international railways. This is where London 2012 took place, London following Athens (1896, the intercalated games of 1906 and 2004) in staging a third games (The USA including its disastrous first foray in 1904 has actually staged four summer Olympics – Los Angeles in 1932 and 1984 and Atlanta in 1996 being the others).
This is one of the not so exclusive club of places where Essex County Cricket Club have played home games (at one time they played regularly at eight different grounds, which one player likened to being permanently on tour). Charles Kortright, author of the single most devastating put down that W.G.Grace ever suffered: “Going already Doctor? But there’s still one stump standing” was born here. On one occasion his fiery fast bowling led spectators to debate whether in the event of his killing someone the correct charge would be manslaughter or murder.
This is the point at which the southern part of the Hainault loop diverges from the rest of the Central line, and before continuing our journey on the main route we are going to sample it.
WANSTEAD – FAIRLOP
Redbridge has the shallowest platforms of any fully enclosed London Undeground station, just 26 feet below the surface. Gants Hill and Newbury Park are notable for their external buildings – Gants Hill features a tower, while Newbury Park has a remarkable covered car park. Fairlop, reminding us that we are getting into open territory has a Country Park, Fairlop Waters.
Hainault Forest has been publicised for many years. I customised this replica of a promotional poster originally advertising a bus route to suit the modern era…
THE NORTH SECTION OF THE LOOP
Grange Hill was the setting a childrens TV Programme way back when (it was old when I was a child). Chigwell also has a TV pedigree – the hit comedy series Birds of a Feather was set there. Roding Valley is utterly undistinguished.
BACK TO THE MAIN LINE
South Woodford and Woodford are the last two stations covered in the Dorling book, and the story he tells comes full circle here, ending as it began, with someone who works in the Office for National Statistics.
Buckhurst Hill is of no great significance, and Loughton, with its splendid Great Eastern style station (this whole section from Stratford on was originally part of the Great Eastern railway) has already had the full post treatment from me. I will pass Debden and Theydon Bois swiftly, bringing us to our journey’s end at…
We are now at the northernmost station currently served by London Underground (the line from here to Ongar, which when I last visited could still be seen runs virtually due north, while my envisaged route to Chelmsford would then be going practically due east from Ongar). This end of the line, even having been cut back from Ongar, does feel very isolated, because one has to travel a fair distance before meeting an interchange, and with Epping-Ongar being run as a shuttle service rather than a through route, Ongar felt exceedingly isolated. This is why I envisage a through route to Chelmsford, the county town of Essex, with a connection to mainline railways, and my envisaged London Orbital Railway, which given the way that network has developed I now see as forming the outer boundary of an expanded London Overground.
MAPS AND ENDNOTES
First of all, my last couple of pictures, one from London Underground: A Diagrammatic History and one showing the modern day connections:
This journey through the Central line’s history, with more than a glance towards the future, and then a journey along the line as constituted has been great fun to write – I hope you find it as fun to read, and for those who have reached the terminating point of this great ride I have one final message…