Special Post: The Hammersmith and City Line

A brief overview of the London Underground line that includes the original section that opened in 1863, with a few important links that relate to various statiions.


Previously I have limited this series to coverage of individual stations, but now I am introducing something new – full line coverage in single posts. I will give a brief glimpse of this history the line and then a little journey from west to east along the current line. I hope you all enjoy this.


On January the 10th 1863 the history of  public transport changed forever. It was then, having been constructed at the urging of city solicitor Charles Pearson in conjunction with a major road building scheme, that the world’s first underground railway, The Metropolitan Railway, opened for business. It covered just seven stops (about one fortieth of the number now served by London Underground) from Bishop’s Road (Paddington) to Farringdon Street (a little to the south of present day Farringdon). Only one line serves all of the surviving original stations (the circle and district station at Paddington is a later creation, originally called Praed Street), and that is the Hammersmith and City line. Although this was only officially separated  from the Metropolitan line in 1990, it makes sense for the purposes of this section to talk about all the branches the relate to this section as though it had always been separate. Viewed in this way, there were a total of three branches that are no longer served:

Latimer Road to Kensington (Addison Road), which latter station is now called Kensington Olympia – the London Underground connection to it from the north was severed in 1940 and has never been reinstated. Goldhawk Road to Richmond, which was served between 1877 and 1906. The only station which was completely lost as a result of the cutting of this connection was Hammersmith (Grove Road). The final connection was a track connection via a long since defunct station called St Mary’s to Shadwell on what used to be the East London line and is now part of London Overground, though deeper below the surface than any of the remaining ‘subsurface’ stations on London Underground.

Before moving on to the journey, here are a couple of map pics…

The Hammersmith and City line's history
The Hammersmith and City line’s history
In its present day setting
In its present day setting


I am not going to cover every station – just those that have a particular association for me. Those who have read previous posts of mine about this subject will be aware that I was disgusted by Philippe Parreno’s failure to meet the brief (in my eyes) for his contribution to Penguin’s 150th anniversary series of books when he got this line and produced a book that contained no words, just a series of very ethereal pictures which bore little apparent relation to the subject.


There is a shopping centre here, also the Lyric theatre, and although I mentioned him in piece on Baron’s Court, you are withing easy walking distance of St Paul’s Girls School, where Gustav Holst was once director of music.


It was from this station that the line to what is now Kensington Olympia diverged, and because this is an elevated section, track heading towards Olympia is clearly visible from the train as you travel past here.


This is the only one of the London mainline railway termini where a London Underground line is structurally part of the station. This dates to the original opening of the Metropolitan railway in 1863, when they used locomotives supplied by the Great Western Railway before falling out with that company and switching to stock supplied by the Great Northern before finally developing some of their own.


This is where the Circle line and a spur of the District meet the Hammersmith and City line (the District and Circle “Paddington” represents a decent interchange to the Bakerloo, but for the Hammersmith and City you are much better off travelling the extra stop to Edgware Road and making a cross-platform interchange.


The Hammersmith and City line platforms here (nos 5 and 6 out of a total of 10) have been restored to look as they did in 1863. This is also home to Madame Tussauds, The Planetarium and of course it is where the world’s first consulting detective had his practice.


As well as being across the road from London’s first mainline railway terminal (Euston), this is the home station for University College London (UCL for short). Just round the corner from this station is Warren Street (Northern and Victoria lines), and a view at surface level that includes both the BT Tower and Centrepoint.


At the surface a complete contrast in styles between the ‘fairytale castle’ that is St Pancras and the largely anonymous Kings Cross. The train from King’s Lynn to London terminates at King’s Cross, usually in the ‘side’ section that comprises platforms 8-11. It is here that claims to be the site for platform 9 3/4 from which the Hogwarts Express departs.


A cross-platform interchange to Thameslink services running between Bedford and Brighton. When I worked at Interpretations I used this station regularly. I also recall this area as home to the Betsey Trotwood, a pub that combined two things I love – Dickens and Real Ale.


This station opened as Aldersgate Street, then became Aldersgate before finally getting its present name of Barbican. This is one of the venues where I listened to live classical music when I lived in London. I also saw various Royal Shakespeare Company productions here.


There is a terminus here for mainline trains coming in from Finsbury Park, and there used to be a spur of Thameslink to here as well, but all of these were below the surface here, so there have never been any above ground tracks. With my home station being Tooting Bec, I used the Northern line platforms here more often than the others. Although St Pauls on the Central line is closer, I used to use this station on occasion to visit the Museum of London – accessible from there by way of the Barbican Centre.


An interchange to mainline railways, and also to the Central line. Also the point at which the Hammersmith and City diverges from the Circle and Metropolitan lines which go to Aldgate, while the Hammersmith and City heads to…


This is where the Hammersmith and City and District lines meet, and from the platforms here you can see Circle and Metropolitan line trains heading in to Aldgate as well. It was just beyond this station that a side branch used to diverge to St Mary’s and Shadwell, joining what was then the East London Railway, has subsequently been the East London line of London Underground and is now a section of London Overground.


An interchange between the District and Hammersmith and City lines and London Overground. Currently in the news because a museum supposed to be dedicated to women was actually a Jack the Ripper museum, which led to a petition and a project to create a museum that really is dedicated to the women of the East end.


The only underground cross-platform interchange between a deep-level tube line and subsurface lines on the entire system. This station also has large enamelled maps from times past featuring the Metorpolitan and District lines.


Interchanges with mainline railways, London Overground, The Jubilee Line and the Docklands Light Railway (this branch has taken over Stratford-North Woolwich, which was previously on Silverlink Metro (London Overground’s predecessor) with the addition of a trans-Thames extension to Woolwich Arsenal).


This is the eastern end of the Hammersmith and City line, although the District continues to Upminster (logic would seem to suggest that the H&C with far less to the west than the District should do the longer haul east rather than vice versa). This station has interchanges with main line railways (to Southend and Shoeburyness) and London Overground (a branch line the other end of which is at Gospel Oak).

A Sunny Sunday in West Norfolk

An account of a walk yesterday morning, the journeys to and from East Rudham, and Sunday lunch in East Rudham, with a subsection devoted to bees enjoying wild marjoram.


This post concerns yesterday, and us set part in King’s Lynn and part in my parents village, East Rudham. A running theme is nature. I hope you will enjoy it and that some at least of you will choose to share it.


It was a beautiful sunny morning, so I decided to take a long walk from my flat, planned to finish at the bus station in time to catch the 11:55 bus to arrive in East Rudham for Sunday lunch. Right at the start, the upper Purfleet yielded these pictures…

DSCN4029 DSCN4030

South Quay then yielded a few more good pictures…

A gull swimming in the Great Ouse
A gull swimming in the Great Ouse

DSCN4032 DSCN4033 DSCN4034

A few minutes later came one of the regular highlights –


The set of pictures I have this time indicate precisely why I have given this structure which sits at the meeting point of the Nar and the Great Ouse the name I have…

DSCN4035 DSCN4037 DSCN4038 DSCN4040 DSCN4041 DSCN4042 DSCN4043 DSCN4044 DSCN4045 DSCN4046 DSCN4047 DSCN4049

Before leaving the river there was just time for a couple of shots looking back at the town…

DSCN4050 DSCN4051

On leaving the river I headed through Harding’s Pits, which at this time of year means…


It is difficult to capture butterflies on camera, but I got a few pics…

DSCN4052 DSCN4053 DSCN4054

After this, the next pictures worth sharing came from near the end of the walk, along a stretch of river near Morrison’s…

My photographic comment on Australia's recent batting performances!
My photographic comment on Australia’s recent batting performances!

DSCN4057 DSCN4058 DSCN4059


A combination of a spectacular day and herd mentality increased the journey time to Hunstanton and the sea to two hours and rendered the Knight’s Hill junction with the A148 effectively unusable for buses, so the X8 towards Fakenham went by way of Leziate, Ashwicken and Roydon joining the A148 just short of Hillington and its first out of town stop. Thanks to this intelligent alteration of the route the bus was only a couple of minutes late arriving at East Rudham.


Following a delicious lunch of roast beef the afternoon was spent sitting out in the courtyard outside my parents house, until it was time for me to get the bus home. I was reading the book by Robert Bakker that I mentioned in a previous post – keep an eye for a review in the near future – and also endeavouring to do photographic justice to…


As well as being useful for bringing out the full flavour of lamb, the wild marjoram that grows in abundance just outside my parents door is much appreciated by bees. Bees are a vitally important part of the ecosystem and are under ever increasing threat from the combination of the insensate greed of pesticide companies and the cravenness of governments (the latter do not have the guts to stand up to the former). Their activities so close to where I was sitting were an irresistable opportunity for the only sort of shooting I am interested in – that done with my trusty Nikon Coolpix P530!

DSCN4090 DSCN4092 DSCN4095 DSCN4096 DSCN4098 DSCN4099 DSCN4103 DSCN4107 DSCN4110 DSCN4113 DSCN4118


The bus turned up precisely when it was scheduled to, and until it hit the now customary traffic jam on Gaywood Road (at which point I decided to get out and walk the rest of the way) it ran exactly to schedule all the way.


In this last section I am going to share some pictures from yesterday evening and also the pictures I got of the bus station immediately before setting out…

The new London Connections map, one of the many things that can be obtained from the visitor's centre at King's Lynn Bus Station.
The new London Connections map, one of the many things that can be obtained from the visitor’s centre at King’s Lynn Bus Station.
On the reverse side the whole of the South East.
On the reverse side the whole of the South East.

DSCN4126 DSCN4129 DSCN4130 DSCN4132

The front of the vistor's centre and the Lynn museum
The front of the vistor’s centre and the Lynn museum


Focus on the visitor's centre
Focus on the visitor’s centre
The clock, courtesy of King's Lynn Civic Society.
The clock, courtesy of King’s Lynn Civic Society.
The barrier at stand C - interleaving Captain Vancouver and the Custom House.
The barrier at stand C – interleaving Captain Vancouver and the Custom House.