Two Days of Imaging

Some highlights from yesterday and today at work.


Yesterday and today were both work days for me, and I stayed overnight in Norwich as I was attending an evening meeting in that fine city. I will not be covering said meeting in this post as I plan to write about it and about tomorrow’s protest against the possible closure of the Fermoy Unit in detail in another post. All my images today are presented as ’tiled mosaics’ – to view an individual image at full size click on it.


Thursday was all imaging for the May auction. I finished the militaria imaging before moving on to some other stuff. Here a few highlights from these lots…

After the militaria I dealt with the coin lots that were unsuitable for being scanned…

There was then a mixture of items to finish the day…


Some of the last lots in the April auction (this Wednesday in Norwich) were located, and there was some interesting stuff for the May auction to image as well. I start with some of those April lots…

Now for some of the lots for the May auction that I imaged today…


Project Piccadilly

A strictly personal survey of the Piccadilly line, with a suggestion for the revival and extension of the Aldwych branch.


This post is associated with my “London Station by Station” series. I was gratified by the response that overview of the Hammersmith and City line received, and so now I am producing a piece about the Piccadilly line which will be much longer, as there is is much more to say…


The Piccadilly line came into existence as a compromise project taking elements from three distinct schemes. An excellent explanation for this is provided by Desmond F. Croome in his “The Piccadilly Line: An Illustrated History”


Still, not event the combination of this bizarre origin and the schemozzle at Heathrow gains the Piccadilly line the status of  London Underground’s no 1 bodge job – for more about that you will have to wait until I feel strong enough to tackle the Northern line!

To give you an overview of the line both in its history and as it stands today here a some images…

The Piccadilly line on London Underground: A Diagrammatic History.
The Piccadilly line on London Underground: A Diagrammatic History.
The Piccadilly line and its connections today (photographed from the current edition of the London Connections map)
The Piccadilly line and its connections today (photographed from the current edition of the London Connections map)
A facsimile of a promotional poster for the Piccadilly line.
A facsimile of a promotional poster for the Piccadilly line.

Having set the scene, it is time to strap yourselves in for…


I am starting slightly out of position, for reasons that will reveal themselves at the end of the post, with Southgate, which I have given a previous post in the series. For full details you will need to read that post, but Southgate has two features of significance to me: it was the home of the Walker brothers, and in that context Middlesex still play some games of cricket at the Walker ground; and it is home to quirk illustrated by this picture…

Light at the end of Tunnel

That attended to, we can now get back on the journey proper starting at…


This station opened in 1933, and still today it is in a very rural setting. Other than being the starting point for our journey it has no real distinguishing  features.


In the direction in which we travel, this marks a transition point – this is the last station at surface level until we emerge at Barons Court.


This is one of two stations, the other being a main line railway station, Alexandra Palace, which serve Alexandra Palace. Whichever you choose you have a long climb ahead of you to reach your objective, although it is worth it for the views at the end. This picture, courtesy of google, shows some of the frontage of the palace itself…



This is the Piccadilly line’s first interchange with any other in our direction of travel. As well as a connection to mainline railways, there is a cross-platform interchange to the Victoria line. It was also the original terminus at this end of the line when the Piccadilly line opened in 1907. Because it was after I had made this particular change in reverse that I got the picture in question, here is a Piccadilly route map as seen in train carriage…



The only station on London Underground to be named after a football club. The club which started life as Dial Square, changed its name to Woolwich Arsenal, of which it was originally the works team and then moved away from Woolwich, dropping the prefix of its name has since moved yet again, to another new stadium. Herbert Chapman who had earlier won three successive championships with Huddersfield Town and even earlier been lucky to survive a match fixing scandal that saw his then club Leeds City thrown out of the league was the person who successfully suggested the name change from the original Gillespie Road, with greater success than Mr Selfridge had enjoyed with his suggestion to the then independent Central London Railway that they might care to rename Bond Street station in honour of his establishment.


I have covered this both in an individual post and in the earlier piece about the Hammersmith and City line. To these I add only that the Piccadilly line is the second deepest line at the station, the Northern line being deeper.


Russell Square is one of the few deep level stations to have no escalators – you have a choice between lifts or stairs. It is also the closest station to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where I was a patient for over a year of my life, in my case in the Mildred Creak unit. For more details about how to locate this hospital, check out their own guide.


Russell Square also serves the iconic British Museum, and they also provide full detail on possible ways of getting there.


One final Russell Square connection – it is the home station for the Institute of Education, which is a regular venue for the annual five-day political festival Marxism and also happens to the place that I visited the first time I ever took part in an Autism Research project – this one being carried out by a woman named Sian Fitzpatrick.

Clark Hall at the Institute of Education, set up for a meeting, appropriately enough on education.
Clark Hall at the Institute of Education, set up for a meeting, appropriately enough on education.
The picture that adorns the wall of Clarke Hall.
The picture that adorns the wall of Clarke Hall.
The artists signature.
The artists signature.



This station is the only official interchange between the Piccadilly and Central lines. When I first used it as a child there were wooden escalators – mind this was in an era when deep-level tube trains using carriages with maple slatted floors and wooden side panels had smoking compartments – health and safety was not considered so important then. Today, Holborn is an ordinary mid-route station, but that was not always the case, and I believe it should not be the case. This is the preamble to…


From 1907 until 1994 there was a branch running south from Holborn to Aldwych. It was not doing much by the end of its life, but closure was not the only option – it was ideally placed for an extension into Southeast London and West Kent. I have already linked to the post I put up about Aldwych early on in this series, but in that post I did not give details of my envisaged extension, an omission I rectify as part of this project.

Reestablishing the Aldwych connection, the route would then go:

Blackfriars (District, Circle, mainline railways), London Bridge (Northern – Bank branch, Jubilee, mainline railways), Bermondsey (Jubilee), Surrey Quays (London Overground), Mudchute (DLR), Cutty Sark (DLR), Greenwich Park, Blackheath (mainline railways), Eltham High Street, New Eltham, Longlands, Sidcup High Street, Foots Cray, Ruxley, Hockenden, Crockenhill, Hulberry, Eynsford (mainline railways), Maplescombe, West Mingsdown, Fairseat, Vigo Village, Ditton, Maidstone West (mainline railways), Maidstone East (mainline railways).

The Maidstone connection is important because very isolated ends of lines can end up not getting much use (see Ongar in this series), and by extending it the extra distance to have both the interchanges in and population of Maidstone to bolster its usage one increases the likelihood of it working. The other particularly significant stop in the outer reaches of the extension is Eynsford, not major enough to be a suitable terminus, but definitely has much worth visiting, led by the scenic Darent Valley and the historic Roman Villa down the road at Lullingstone.

DSCN4877 DSCN4878


The digression done, it is time to resume our progress along the Piccadilly, which next takes us to…


I have already covered this area at some length in a previous post to which I now direct you. What I failed to mention in that post is that there is also a quite pleasant walking route from here to Waterloo, and all the attractions I have listed in that post.


This station has a connection to the Northern line (Charing Cross branch). Also, until the refurbishment of Angel (Northern, Bank branch) it had the longest escalators to be found anywhere on the system. At 0.16 miles apart it and Covent Garden are the two closest neighbours on the entire system. Leicester Square serves an area of London known as Chinatown.


The station that gives its name to the line, it has an interchange with the Bakerloo line. Piccadilly is home to the Eros statue. It features in at least two series of novels set in Restoration England, Edward Marston’s Redmayne series and Susannah Gregory’s Chaloner series.


Interchanges with the Victoria and Jubilee lines.


One of several stations serving London’s largest park. This is also the local station for the Albert Hall.


Museum central – see the first post in this series for more detail. Also, the point at which one the projects that were fused together to make the Piccadilly line – a plan for a ‘deep level District’ line to ease congestion on the original District – from here to Earls Court the Piccadilly follows the District exactly, then skips West Kensington, joining the District at the surface at Barons Court. After Hammersmith the Piccadilly runs fast to Acton Town while the district has intermediate stops at Ravenscourt Park, Stamford Brook, Turnham Green and Chiswick Park. Occasional Piccadilly trains stop at Turnham Green where the Richmond branch of the District diverges, but the major branching point is…


Nowadays the District only goes beyond Acton Town as far as Ealing Broadway, but the entire Uxbridge branch of the Piccadilly and the Heathrow branch as far as Hounslow West were originally served by the District and feature platforms at the compromise height used for cross-platform interchanges between ‘tube’ and ‘subsurface’ lines. This station adjoins the Acton  Works, where rolling stock is maintained and overhauled. We will explore the Heathrow branch first…


The joke instruction used as this section heading refers to the fact that the three Hounslow’s, Hatton Cross and the three Heathrow stations all being with the letter H – and if you are on a train running the loop route (Terminals 1,2 and 3 and then terminal 4, as opposed to the direct Terminal 5 route), you would in total, between departing Hounslow East one way and returning there in the other direction see station names beginning with H 11 times on the trot.


When the Piccadilly was first extended to serve Heathrow one station, unimaginatively named Heathrow Central was deemed sufficient. Then, in 1986, Terminal 4 opened, and was not accessible from the existing station. A terminal loop was constructed with a new station built on it to serve Terminal 4. So far, so good, but then the folk who run Heathrow decided that a mere four terminals were insufficient for the number of flights they wanted to run, and a fifth terminal, not accessible from either existing station was built. So we now have a bizarre configuration whereby there is simultaneously a terminal loop and an ordinary direct terminus constructed specially to serve Terminal 5. Quite what sort of arrangement will result if and when a Terminal 6 gets the go-ahead is beyond me to imagine.

Early advertising of the Heathrow connection.
Early advertising of the Heathrow connection.


I have covered the quirky feature of this station in a previous post.


There are two stations on this branch bearing the name Sudbury, Sudbury Hill an Sudbury Town. I am concentrating on the latter because as a Grade 1 listed building it stands as an example of the best of London Underground architecture. Like so many of the finest examples, this station was designed by the legendary Charles Holden. To find out more about Holden and his work I recommend strongly that you consult David Lawrence’s magnificent Bright Underground Spaces, in which I located these pictures that relate to Sudbury Town…

The design of the station.
The design of the station.
A double page spread picture of the completed station.
A double page spread picture of the completed station.


The last station before this branch meets the Metropolitan for the run to Uxbridge. The Metropolitan converges from a station called West Harrow, while all the other branches of that line bar the Uxbridge one pass through North Harrow. Once upon a time a school opened to serve “30 poor children of the parish of Harrow”. The school is still there, but it is a long time since any poor children got to go there.


This is the meeting point, and for a long time this was a regular terminating point for Piccadilly line services except at peak periods. This is the last marked interchange on the Piccadilly line, although you could change to the Metropolitan anywhere between here and Uxbridge should you desire it.


Ruislip is an occasional terminating point, although most trains that go that far go on to Uxbridge. These two stations both serve Ruislip Lido, home to among other things the smallest gauge passenger carrying railway in Britain. I have assembled some links for you:

  1. The lido as a whole
  2. The Ruislip Lido Railway
  3. The official view on how to get there.


I mentioned earlier in this post that Holborn is the only officially recognised interchange between the Piccadilly and Central lines. For all that is in the region of a 10 minute walk to get from this station to West Ruislip I consider that this should be a recognised interchange – for more detail consult this post.


The current Hillingdon station opened in 1992, but there was an earlier Hillingdon station which opened in 1923. In 1934 this station was renamed Hillingdon (Swakeleys). The suffix was gradually dropped over time, but leaves the question “what is Swakeleys?” to have such significance. The answer, as an internet search reveals is that it is a school. As far as can ascertain it is the only school to have officially formed part of a station name (the stations with Harrow in their name refer to the location not the the school per se). There is also a well known hospital in Hillingdon.


We have reached the end of our journey. The present Uxbridge station opened in 1934, but there has been a station at Uxbridge since 1903. In so far as anywhere so rural can be this is something of a transport hub as several bus services make use of the station forecourt. Now it is time to reveal the solution to the teaser I set as to why I started out of position at Southgate: the connection is a cricketing one – yes we are back in Middlesex out ground territory. Sadly, other than knowing that Middlesex sometimes play there I cannot recall anything about cricket at Uxbridge – no remarkable matches spring to mind, nor great players especially associated with the ground.


This post does not make any claim to be a definitive account of the Piccadilly line – it is a strictly personal view of the highlights of the line that has more stations than any other deep level ‘tube’ lines and is only beaten by the District among the ‘subsurface’ lines, and I have ignored many stations altogether and given quite a few others only sparse coverage. I hope that you have all enjoyed the ride!

The Railway Detective, Part 2: Books 5-8


Welcome the second of three posts I shall be producing about The Railway Detective. The previous post covered four of the books and can be viewed here. As I warned in the introduction to that post, this is laden with spoilers. I hope you will all enjoy this post and be encouraged to share it.



The Iron Horse refers to locomotives, but this story is also deeply concerned with flesh and blood horses, since it involves a crime that occurred during the Derby. Colbeck, operating with his usual flair and persistence, and with the assistance of the inevitable Leeming is able to bring a series of horrible crimes home to Lord Hendry.


A derailment near Balcombe is the initial incident that opens this story. The railway police in the person of Captain Harvey Ridgeon reckon that the accident was caused by driver error. However, unlike Ridgeon was has formed an opinion and bends every new fact to fit that opinion, Colbeck notes that the driver of that particular train was known for caution, that he managed to instruct his fireman to jump off before the disaster struck, and that a section of track had been deliberately loosened. Colbeck also identifies two passengers on that train who had enemies, although it turns out that there was a third passenger on that train whose behaviour had caused one particular individual to want revenge on both him and the train that he regularly used. The book ends with Ridgeon, his errors cruelly exposed, apologising to Colbeck.



A silver coffee pot in the shape of a locomotive, commissioned by a wealthy family in Cardiff goes missing, and the man entrusted with delivering it from London to Cardiff is found murdered. The young man identified as the murder victim is Hugh Kellow, apprentice to the silversmith Leonard Voke, and the original suspect is Voke’s disinherited son Stephen. Colbeck traces Voke junior and soon establishes that he is not the murderer. Having to rethink the entire case, Colbeck arrives at the notion the murder victim was not Kellow, but someone who looked similar and could be used to send the police down a blind alley. A trip to Birmingham’s jewellery quarter ensues, for which Colbeck enlists both the official assistance of Leeming and the unofficial assistance of Madeleine Andrews. The trip to Birmingham yields Kellow and his accomplice Bridget Haggs, a.k.a Effie, a.k.a Mrs Vernon. Additionally, Madeleine Andrews and Robert Colbeck become engaged. This book also introduces us to actor-manager Nigel Buckmaster, subsequently to provide Colbeck with valuable assistance in at least two further cases.



Unlike almost every other book and story in the series there is no element of ‘who done it?’ about this story – it is a case of ‘will they get away with it?’. The action opens with Jeremy Exley being conveyed from Wolverhampton to Birmingham to be imprisoned. A young lady named Irene Adnam, his lover and accomplice, kills one of the two policemen guarding him, assists in the killing of the other and the disposal of the two bodies. The crimes having been committed on the railway, Colbeck is involved from the start. Colbeck has an extra reason to bring this case to a successful conclusion, since it was Exley who was responsible for him becoming a policeman in the first place. Colbeck had been a barrister, and in that role persuaded a young women who witnessed a robbery carried out by Exley to give evidence in court. Exley responded by murdering the young woman in a particularly horrible way.

Eventually, after a chase that leads all the way to America, the villains are run to earth, and Colbeck succeeds in dividing them by telling Irene the story of the earlier murder in full detail.


The Railway Detective, Part 1: Books 1-4


As well as my title piece I have a couple of important links to share. I have mentioned the Railway Detective, Inspector Robert Colbeck, in various previous posts without going into much detail. Today I am devoting a whole post to him and his exploits, which will be the first of a three such posts. WARNING: THE REST OF THIS POST IS FULL OF SPOILERS.



This book, with the title that becomes a supertitle for the whole series, is the one that introduces Inspector Colbeck, his sidekick Sergeant Leeming, their irascible and dictatorial ex-army boss Superintendent Edward Tallis. The opening crime of the series features train driver Caleb Andrews as one of the victims, and also introduces us therefore to his remarkable daughter Madeleine who becomes one of the key characters in the series.

The initial crime, while serious enough in itself is but a part of much wider scheme hatched by a stalwart opponent of the railway network whose initial hostility to the new development has been inflamed beyond the point of insanity by the death of his wife which he blames on the railways. Another element of the master plan was to sabotage the Great Exhibition by blowing up the locomotives that formed a big part of it.

It is after Colbeck has protected the Great Exhibition and brought the villains to justice that the nickname by which he will be known for evermore “The Railway Detective” is bestowed on him. This book also introduces yet another running theme, the permanent friction between Colbeck and Tallis which regularly flares into open flames.


A murder committed on an excursion train (hence the title) leads to the uncovering of a grotesque miscarriage of justice in which the wrong person was hanged for a murder and the unmasking of the person who saw someone hanged in his place.

Madeleine Andrews provides her first unofficial service to Scotland Yard, Colbeck making use of her communication skills and her sex to gain extra information from a female who he feels has not told him all that she might. Knowing his Superintendent’s view of women, Colbeck is careful to make sure that Tallis does not find out about this.

The details that emerge of the first murder victim, particularly those associated with his role as hangman (hence the trail to the miscarriage of justice), are such as render him as unsympathetic a murder victim as any in detective fiction (with the possible exception of the loathsome Enoch J Drebber in A Study in Scarlet).

Time for my first picture (delayed because my copies of the first three books in this series are in omnibus form)…



The viaduct of the title is the Sankey Viaduct near Liverpool, and the story begins with someone being thrown out of a train and over the side of the viaduct to his death. It so happens that an accomplished artist was present preparing to paint a picture of the train crossing the viaduct, so as well as spoken evidence Colbeck gets a clear picture of the scene.

When it emerges that the victim was a French railway engineer making a clandestine visit to Liverpool, Colbeck’s follow up action takes him to France, where with the regular assistance of Leeming and the unapproved assistance of Brendan Mulryne he thwarts a sabotage scheme intended to prevent the completion of a railway there.

A fanciful sketch by a second fine artist, Madeleine Andrews, fires a synapse in the Colbeck brain that puts him wise to the motive for the crime.

It turns out that the scheme is the brainchild of an embittered old man who fought at the battle of Waterloo, and who was unable to adapt to the notion that the French were no longer deadly enemies. It was a planned extension of the French railway to Cherbourg, a port and the site of an arsenal, that our villain could not stomach.


This one opens with a particularly gruesome suicide (achieved by walking into the path of a train). In the course of investigating the crime Colbeck discovers that the victim was driven to suicide by the murder of his wife. The locals are all certain that the husband was the killer and committed suicide because he was unable to live with his actions, and have closed their minds to other possibilities. Colbeck is able to establish that the husband was not the killer of his wife, and to locate the real killer.

This book also features a battle with a particularly unpleasant specimen of the clergy who is determined to bar the suicide victim from burial alongside his wife, to the extent of defying the law. It turns out that this person has been responsible for sending poison pen letters (dictated to his wife, so it is her handwriting that Colbeck identifies) to the man who killed himself, so Colbeck is able to force him to resign his ministry.



These books contain a wonderful mix of fast paced action, plot twists and a large measure of railway lore. The characters of Colbeck, Leeming, Tallis, and Caleb and Madeleine Andrews, who feature in every book in the series are well developed. While it would be pretty difficult for a combination of detective fiction and railways not to appeal to me, nevertheless, these books are particularly outstanding.


Just the two links today, firstly to the latest on the Justice for Kayleb campaign and secondly to a petition that now has somewhere around three million signatures calling for an end to the piece of barbarity known as the Yulin Dog Meat Festivial

Special Post: Euston and Euston Square


Welcome to the latest installment in my series “London Station by Station“. I am treating these two together because they are so close to one another that it makes no sense to split them up.


Euston Square, served nowadays by the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines is one of the 1863 originals, and as with Baker Street has been restored to look as it would have done when first opened. The City and South London Railway station at Euston was opened on May 12th 1907 and the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway on June 22nd 1907. These two together are now the Northern line, and occupy four platforms here – although widely separated – to change between the two branches you would be well advised to continue northwards to Camden Town where the interchange is cross-platform. The Victoria line station opened on December 1st 1968.

The southbound platform on the Bank branch of the Northern line is very wide at this station because when it was opened as the City and South London Railway station there were two tracks either side of an island platform (an arrangement still in evidence at Clapham Common and Clapham North), and the extra width of that platform comes from the reorginastion when this arrangement was deemed unsuitable for such a busy station.


Euston was the first of London’s railway terminals to open, serving the London and North Western Railway, and it was on that route that Edward Marston’s greatest creation, The Railway Detective (a.k.a Inspector Robert Colbeck) investigated the case that first earned him that title (and introduced him to his future wife). These stories are set thus far) in the 1850s, before the opening of the Metropolitan Railway in 1863, but I could see Colbeck still being in business when that momentous event occurs. He would undoubtedly embrace the underground railway wholeheartedly, although his colleague Sergeant Leeming would take some persuading of its virtues!


I hope that you have enjoyed this post and will be inspired to share it. Here are a couple of pictures to finish…

A close up of the key area
The Diagrammatic History
The Diagrammatic History

Books and Other Stuff

A brief mention of the Strictly final, and Alastair Cook’s replacement as England ODI captain followed by some stuff about books and accompanied as usual by pictures.

Before moving on to the main theme of this post there a couple of other issues I wish to touch on first.

Strictly Come Dancing is over for another year. Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev won the vote (in the final, judges scores are given for guidance only, the outcomes resting solely on the public vote) as they jolly well should having clocked up perfect 40s from the judges in each of their last four routines, including all three in the final. Besides these four the only other perfect score of the series was achieved by Simon Webbe and Kristina Rihanoff in the last couple dance of the series. Frankie Bridge and Kevin Clifton with two 39s and a 38 were third best on the night.

The second item on my agenda that England have finally acted over the One Day International captaincy, replacing Alastair Cook with Eoin Morgan. Cook is a magnificent test match cricketer but in limited overs matches, especially on good batting pitches, he does not score quickly enough. Not only do I think a change had to be made, I am certain that the selectors have made the right decision about the new captain.

I have decided to write about something that is important to me but which I have not often covered in this blog: books. I am going to focus my attention on an old favourite and two new discoveries.

Starting with the old favourite, Edward Marston’s “Railway Detective” series dovetails neatly with two of my areas of interest, detective fiction and railways, and as such was a sure fire winner. Even so, i never cease to be impressed by just how good the stories are and just how much I enjoy reading them. I do not know how long a period the series will eventually cover, but it has already spanned most of the 1850s. 1863 would be a significant year in this context, because of the opening of the world’s first underground railway.

My second port of call is another fictional series, Laurie King’s  remarkable Mary Russell/ Sherlock Holmes series. I was originally very sceptical because in the original Holmes stories he is very much not the marrying kind. However, in spite of the implausibility of Holmes marrying, the series works spectacularly well, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.

Finally, moving away from detective fiction and indeed from fiction we have Clifford Pickover’s “The Zen of Magic Squares, Circles & Stars”. This provided me with reading material for three bus journeys (unusual for a book to occupy me that long) and is of more specialised interest than my other two mentions, but the patterns contained within it are fascinating.

I have some photos to share with you – one thign you will notice if you look at the front cover shots of the books – all are library books, and I am happy to pay a tribute to Norfolk Libraries for continuing to provide a good service in difficult circumstances.

This is what I created to make my 10,000th tweet a bit special!
This is what I created to make my 10,000th tweet a bit special!
The next seven pictures are from the Pickover book.
The next seven pictures are from the Pickover book.

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A front cover shot of one of the Laurie King books.
A front cover shot of one of the Laurie King books.
One of Edward Marston's Railway Detective books.
One of Edward Marston’s Railway Detective books.
Cover shot of the Pickover Book.
Cover shot of the Pickover Book.