An account of James and Sons auction on March 3oth and 31st, with some other stuff at the end.
As the main part of this post, about James and Sons’March auction (I am also sharing a few other bits at the end) develops it will become obvious why I am doing it now as one big post, and why I have posted very little these last few days.
PART 1: THE PRELIMINARIES (TUESDAY)
With the auction scheduled for Wednesday 30th (lots 1-699) and Thursday 31st (Lots 700-1051) the setup at the venue (The Prince of Wales Suite, Fakenham Racecourse) had to be accomplished on the Tuesday. This day did not require any earlier start than a regular work day would, and although a lot of heavy lifting was involved (a thousand plus lot auction, four people fit to do serious carrying) it was less draining than the other two days.
PART TWO: DAY 1 (WEDNESDAY)
I had to be at the venue by 8AM, which meant leaving my flat at 6:30AM to be sure of catching the 6:50 bus, to make sure that the IT setup was working and to assist with the viewing the precedes the sale. A couple of technical hitches at the start aside the day went smoothly. There were some great successes, although the flag that we had hoped would raise serious money did not attract a bid high enough to warrant selling it. The books tanked, as anyone with any experience of books at auction would have expected. Lot 466 fell to me, and lot 494, five volumes on Buildings of Scotland, found its way to East Rudham. Here are some pictures from day 1 at the venue…
This was still in the sky when I left my flat on the Wednesday morning!
Not one of ours – one the racecourse’s own pictures)
The view from the rostrum
The rostrum before the auction started.
This shell has been interestingly decorated, although it would still have looked better when it was on a turtle’s back.
A building frontage in Bridge Street, Fakenham that I had not previously noticed.
After the sale had concluded it was time to get the unsold lots from day 1 back to the shop (and they had to go on the top floor of the shop, including four plastic tubs full of back issues of Private Eye magazine). Then finally, work was done for the day.
PART THREE: DAY 2 (THURSDAY)
Fortunately I was able to set off an hour later than on the first day as although I would still have to do some preliminary IT stuff there were unlikely to be many viewers present (and indeed there weren’t). The internet was still very lively however, and a number of the early commemorative and proof coins on this second day sold exceptionally well. The stamps and postal history did not shine especially brightly. Lot 920, an Isambard Kingdom Brunel £2 set, went to me. The last lot went under the hammer just before 12:00, after which it was time for the clear-up. Once we had the first van load back at the shop we stopped for lunch, before doing the unloading, heading back to the racecourse for the last bits and getting them back. At this point there was a break from heavy lifting, during which I obtained a full printed list of those who had signed up to bid via http://www.the-saleroom.com, which ran to a James and Sons record 277 (paddle numbers 400-676 inclusive). There was a little bit more lifting to do before the end of my day, as it was necessary to get some stuff ready for loading for a collectors fair on the morrow. I have some pictures from day 2 as well…
One of theirs again!
This tapestry is also theirs.
Caravans parked where on race days there would be bookies.
Golfers in action, srrounded by the racecourse (hence no golf on racedays – a mishit shot might do more than frighten the horses!)
Che Simnor auditioning for the role of security guard!
An item on display in the shop.
The Fakenham Sign
A FINAL THOUGHT ON THE AUCTION
I have not previously been involved in running a two-day auction, and it was an incredibly tiring three days. However, the auction was very successful.
LOTS 466 AND 920
These were the two lots I bid on, and I got both. Both lots attracted my attention because of my special interest (in the best autism circles we do not use the word obsession) in railways (and indeed public transport generally – check out my website www.londontu.be).
This was a rail atlas of Britain, dating from around 1980 (Blake Hall station was open so it is pre-1982, but that whole section of the Central line – Epping– Ongar – was already being considered for closure), and it is very detailed, showing goods and passenger lines. Here are pictures, starting with the images that were available at auction and finishing with some later shots…
This was the Brunel £2 set, and I have the image that was available to auction followers, some images taken of it on display at the venue and some further images taken of it at home…
HAIRPIN POINT – UNINTENTIONAL COMEDY FROM THE GOP
I have called this ‘Hairpin Point’ because it represents a switch in direction on this post away from anything connected with my work to other matters. To set the scene, here is a screen-dump from my email inbox:
The Gun Obsessed Plonkers (GOP for short) have made a spectacular blunder here:
As my email address surely indicates (it ends .co.uk after all) I am not American.
Even I was American the odds against me ever even voting for a Republican, let alone being a registered member would be of the order of zillions to one against.
How someone came to perpetrate a bloomer on this scale I do not know, but it did provide a laugh.
And at the very end, a link to a piece by Mike Sivier of Vox Political about what Labour is doing to attempt to save British Steel, and a follow-up link to a petition on the same subject that has already garnered more than the 100,000 signatures needed for a debate in Parliament:
A brief account of yesterday;s episode of Antiques Road Trip, which featured both my home town and my employer. Also some photographs and some links.
Although I do have a few other things to share this post is mainly concerned with yesterday’s episode of Antiques Road Trip, which happened to feature an auction at Fakenham Racecourse (which took place on April 29th 2015).
For those who watch, I am the person in the red jacket sitting next to the auctioneer.
This was the start of a new week, so we were introduced to the two experts and shown the car that they would be using first. Then the buying part of the episode happened, which features some excellent footage of King’s Lynn among other places.
The episode concluded, as they all do, with the auction. While I do not know much about what happened to these items after the auction I can tell you that following a couple of other unsuccessful outings the baker’s scales are still on the James and Sons van.
The program was well made, and even though I of course already knew which items were destined to be bought for sale at that auction, nevertheless it held my attention all the way through.
A PICTORIAL INTERLUDE
I mentioned that there was some good footage from King’s Lynn on yesterday’s episode of Antiques Road Trip, and here some photos from King’s Lynn…
I conclude this post by sharing a few recent posts connected with my London transport themed website:
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…
A mention of yesterday;s ODI, leading to an account of a controversial dismissal and some stories about other controversial dismissals. Some good pictures. Finally, some interesting and important links.
As well as my title piece I have some links and some photographs to share.
AUSTRALIAN VICTORY MARRED BY CONTROVERSIAL DISMISSAL
Let me start by saying straight that the dismissal in question had no effect on the outcome of the match – Australia were already in control by then and thoroughly deserved their victory. England one the toss, put Australia in, and Australia ran up 309 from the 49 overs that the match was reduced to.
OBSTRUCTING THE FIELD
Ben Stokes was given out to one cricket’s most obscure modes of dismissal: Obstructing the Field. He deflected with his hand a ball that would have hit his stumps and run him out. I quote from my copy of The Laws of Cricket the paragraph explaining the relevant law:
1. Out Obstructing the field
Either batsman is out Obstructing the field if he wilfully obstructs the or distracts the opposing side by word or action. It shall be regarded as obstruction if either batsman wilfully, and without the consent of the fielding side, strikes the ball with his bat or person, other than a hand not holding the bat, after the ball has touched a fielder.
The emphases in the body text of the above quote are mine – in the space of time that it took for the incident to occur it is hard to see how Stokes could have wilfully obstructed the field – and also the hand that struck the ball was not holding the bat and is therefore specifically exempted by the above. Steven Smith, the Australian captain earned few friends by allowing the appeal and dismissal to stand, and even fewer by the arrogant, unthinking post-match interview in which he refused to even countenance the possibility that he might have been wrong.
Of course controversies are nothing new when it comes to clashes between crickets oldest international foes – the first great controversy over a dismissal in an England – Australia match was the one in 1882 that led to the creation of the Ashes, when W.G.Grace ran out Sammy Jones after the latter had left his crease to pat down a divot. Fred Spofforth was particularly incensed, and proceeded to vent his anger by running through the England second innings to win the match. The first post World War II Ashes match featured very controversial moment when Bradman, then on 28 and having looked very unconvincing, sent a ball shoulder-high to Jack Ikin at second slip, and was given not out after England initially thought they had no need to appeal (normally for a high and clear catch you don’t). England’s captain Walter Hammond gave Bradman a pithy summary of his thoughts, saying “A fine bloody way to start a series”. Bradman went on to 187 and Australia to an innings victory. Other more recent cases of controversy include the Dyson run out that was not given at Sydney in the 1982-83 series (when the batsman was so far out of his ground that he was not even in the frame when the wicket was broken), the Wayne Phillips dismissal at Edgbaston in 1985 that ended all hope of Australia saving that match (caught by Gower after he had chopped a ball on to Allan Lamb’s boot and it rebounded up and across to the skipper) and the Ponting dismissal at Trent Bridge in 2005 and that worthy’s subsequent verbal firework display.
I have quite a few links to share today, and they divide into three sections…
I begin with a link to what is in actuality a report of a theft committed brazenly and in broad daylight by a Jobcentre security guard. Having read the post, from samedifference, I have already stated in their comments section the “security guard” who thought it was alright ro behave in this manner needs to be arrested and charged. If I was handling the case, I would run him down to the Police Station, and tell him that either he yields up the phone so that I can be returned to its owner or he goes to court and when he is convicted, as on such ironclad evidence he would have to be, a custodial sentence will be called for. PLEASE READ AND SHARE THE FULL POST
Next courtesy of the Mirror comes this about David Cameron coming under pressure to abolish the bedroom tax, even from his own side. This piece contains a poll asking readers whether the bedroom tax should be abolished, and when I voted the records showed 92% had got the answer right and only 8% had clicked the no button!
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…
The Metropolitan line’s Uxbridge branch, on which Ickenham is located, opened in 1904. The District line started running services along there in 1910, and these were subsequently switched to the Piccadilly line in the 1930s. Central line services were extended to their current western terminus at West Ruislip in 1948.
The two stations are quite close together (about 10 mins walk apart at surface level) and the largest depot anywhere on the London Underground network also provides track connections between them, as it used by the Piccadilly, Metropolitan (Uxbridge) and Central (West Ruislip) lines. Also, unlike some other interchanges that go unacknowledged (e.g Belsize Park and Gospel Oak) it is not especially difficult to think of journeys where this interchange might be useful (Uxbridge to Hanger Lane is one example).
Welcome to the latest post in my “London Station by Station” series. These posts do not contain anything other than the title piece, and any links and pictures relate exclusively to that theme, as is not the case with my regular posts.
A BELGIAN PROVINCE AND AN OUTPOST OF LONDON UNDERGROUND
Hainault was important duchy in what is now Belgium in 14th century, although the modern province has subsequently lost the l and is now called Hainaut. The connection to this country dates from that same period, when Phillippa of Hainault, daughter of the then duke married Edward III. For more on this, I have a link to a short academic article.
As with the rest of the eastern end of the Central line, Hainault was originally served by the Great Eastern Railway before being transferred to London Underground in 1948. Hainault gives it name to the Hainault Loop, which the following extract from the diagrammatic history shows…
For many years, Hainault was a terminus station, with the northern segment of the loop being run by a shuttle service, but nowadays trains taking the loop run all the way round it to Woodford.
At one time the southern part of the Hainault loop was going to form an eastern extension to a planned Chelsea-Hackney line, but that line never got beyond the planning stage, and I have not heard it mentioned in the last couple of decades. This 1994 speculative map from Ken Garland’s “Mr Beck’s Underground Map” shows the plan along with one or two other plans of the time, some of which did come to fruition (though by no means all)…
As for the place itself, the only point of interest as that there is a country park, which would probably provide a decent walk if you were so minded.
I hope that you have enjoyed this post and that you will be encouraged to share it, and I leave you with one last picture…
Welcome to the latest in my series “London Station by Station“, the second post in this series to feature a station to have fallen victim to the axe (see also the piece on Aldwych).
THE ONE TIME NORTHERN OUTPOST OF LONDON UNDERGROUND
Ongar became a London Underground station immediately post World War II, and was closed, along with North Weald in 1994. There had been a station between North Weald and Ongar called Blake Hall, but that was closed in 1981. I travellled out there more than once before it closed. The village of Chipping Ongar is home to a 900 year old church among other things.
Ongar is 24 miles from the centre of London, and with no interchanges to other lines between Stratford and Ongar, and the fact that one had to change trains at Epping (now the end of the line) it took a long time to get there. This meant that few passengers actually did use the route. This graphic, taken from Danny Dorling’s “The 32 Stops”, shows how far beyond the boundary of Greater London even Epping, the current outpost is:
The solid black route is the 32 stops from West Ruislip to Woodford that Dorling covers in his book, while the grey lines show the other parts of the Central line that are still open.
11.3 miles beyond Ongar is Chelmsford, the county town of Essex, and home to a major rail station with a fairly quick route into London (this picture, extracted from google maps, illustrates):
You might notice from the above picture that there is not a great deal between Ongar and Chelmsford, and indeed my idea for an extension to integrate an otherwise very isolated branch into a wider network features just one intermediate station, at the village of Great Baddow.
An even bolder notion than the one already outlined that occurred to me when I gave such a scheme serious thought some years back was for the Central line to reopened to Ongar, running straight through rather than having the change at Epping, and for Ongar to become the Northeast node point of a London Orbital Railway (with the Ongar-Chelmsford link being a spur off this to the Northeast (well actually rather more east than north). The southeasterly node point would be at Maplescombe in Kent with a spur to Maidstone to connect with existing railways there, the southwesterly at West Byfleet, linking to the existing routes to and through Woking, with the northwesterly node at Rickmansworth, connecting with a northwesterly route to Aylesbury. The northern arm of this orbital route, from Rickmansworth to Ongar makes extensive use of existing but currently lightly used routes (reopen the connection between Rickmansworth and Watford, take over the Watford to St Albans branch, connect to St Albans (Thameslink). Between St Albans and Ongar would be new track with stops at Welwyn Garden City, Hertford North, Hertford East and Broxbourne (all offering connections to the existing network.
To finish, here are some more pictures which might help you grasp some of the detail I have covered above…
I hope you have enjoyed this spectacularly speculative post and will be encouraged to share it.
This is the sixth post in a series I have started recently, in the form of a station by station guide to London. Before moving on to the meat of today’s post, here is a link to the previous five.
Loughton has been served by the Central line since 1948, but before that it, along with the rest of the eastern end of the Central line was part of the Great Eastern Railway. Nowadays there are only three stations beyond Loughton on the Central line, but as you will be seeing in a later post there used to be more. This is the first of the stations I have covered in this series to be on the Central line, so a mention of Danny Dorling’s marvellous book ‘The 32 Stops’ is mandatory – complete with link to snapshot review and a picture…
As a preamble to talking about Loughton itself I am going to say a bit about going there, for which I need to make some very brief technical points. London Underground (the correct name for the whole network) comprises two separate systems, the older lines (Metropolitan, District, Circle and Hammersmith & City) known as ‘surface’ lines whose tunnel sections were built using the self-explanatory ‘cut-and-cover’ method and the newer, deep-level ‘tube’ lines. The older lines were built to the same spec as mainline railways, while the newer lines are built for much smaller stock. Where there are direct cross-platform interchanges between older and newer lines the platforms are built to a compromise height so that there is a step down into a tube train and a step up into a ‘surface’ train.
My preferred method of getting to Loughton, unless I was starting from a Central line station, would be to get on to either the Hammersmith and City or District lines first, and change at Mile End, which is an interchange that is unique – it is a cross-platform interchange between ‘surface’ and ‘tube’ lines that is in tunnel (the Central line rises to the surface at the it’s next station eastwards, Stratford).
I first visited Loughton for a Geography project at school, studying the Loughton Brook. In spite of this introduction I subsequently returned of my own volition more than once – it is very scenic, both north towards the sources of the brook and south to where the brook flows in to the river Roding.
To finish this post I have a few map pictures for you…