Acts of Parliament Relating to Railways

A little bit more detail on my latest acquisition.

INTRODUCTION

Those of you who read my post about James and Sons last auction of 2017 will recall that I secured a collection of copies of Acts of Parliament relating to the development of railways. I am now going to provide a little more detail about each item in that collection.

LOT 544 ACT BY ACT

I am going through these documents in the precise order in which I came across them when I photographed them individually on Friday, starting with…

FARNHAM AND ALTON

Farnham and Alton

The section of line this refers to is a branch that diverges from the main line towards Basingstoke and Salisbury at Brookwood, calling at Ash Vale, Aldershot, Farnham, Bentley and Alton. These days there is also a side branch from Aldershot to Ash, Wanborough and Guildford. 

HAMPTON COURT

Hampton Court

This little branch, which is still very much in service today diverges from the main line at Surbiton and has only two further stations, Thames Ditton and Hampton Court. More information about Hampton Court itself can be found here. I cover a potential use for this branch as part of a greater whole in this post.

EGHAM AND CHERTSEY

Egham and Chertsey

This branch, which diverges from the Waterloo-Reading route at Virginia Water has stations at Chertsey, Addlestone and Weybridge, the last named of which offers an jinterchange to the main London-Portsmouth route. This branch, still very much in service, is a part of my envisioned London Orbital Railway.

ARRANGEMENTS WITH OTHER RAILWAY COMPANIES

Arrangements with other railway companies

Rather than dealing with specific infrastructure plans this one seeks to provide the London & South Western with powers to make arrangements with other railway companies. The necessity of bills of this nature, and the fact that on many occasions the companies concerned were at such loggerheads with each other as to be chiefly concerned with doing one another down rather than with providing the best possible service hints at serious weaknesses with having railways in private hands. 

READING, GUILDFORD AND REIGATE

Reading, Guildford & Reigate

This is a substantial line, running in fact from Reading to Redhill, one stop beyond Reigate, and these days having a southern spour from Redhill to Gatwick Airport. There are intermediate stations at Earley, Winnersh Triangle, Winnersh, Wokingham, Crowthorne, Sandhurst, Blackwater, Farnborough North, North Camp, Ash, Guildford, Shalford, Chilworth, Gomshall, Dorking West, Dorking Deepdene and Betchworth. 

LONDON BRIDGE

London Bridge

This was a matter of gaining access to a major London terminus. Today London Bridge remains a very major station, with interchanges to London Underground’s Northern and Jubilee lines.

WHITCHURCH, ANDOVER & SALISBURY

Whitchurch, Andover and Salisbury

This refers to the section of line that heads west from Basingstoke calling at Overton, Whitchurch, Andover, Grateley and Salisbury. 

GUILDFORD, FAREHAM AND PORTSMOUTH

Guildford, Fareham, Portsmouth

This covers half of the line between Portsmouth and Southampton on todays network and the stretch from Portsmouth to Guildford which goes by way of Fratton, Hilsea, Bedhampton, Rowlands Castle, Petersfield, Liss, Liphook, Haslemere, Witley, Milford, Godalming and Farncombe.

RICHMOND TO WINDSOR

Richmond to Windsor

Both the Hounslow loop and the line to Windsor are still very much part of the network. This is one of two lines to Windsor, the other of which runs as a shuttle service between Slough and Windsor. These two branches which currently have terminuses so close together feature in a scheme I have in mind for the District line.

STAINES TO WOKING AND WOKINGHAM

Staines to Wokingham and Woking

These days there is no direct connection from Staines to Woking. The other route, with stations at Egham, Virginia Water, Longcross, Sunningdale, Martins Heron and joining the western end of the Reading and Reigate line referred to earlier at Wokingham. When I attended Richmond Upon Thames I sometimes used trains travellingf this route because they used to go non-stop between Richmond and Clapham Junction. In those distant days the rolling stock had doors that had to be opened and closed by hand – no push buttons on that line, and it needed either considerable care or a willingness to make a very loud bang to be sure that the doors actually were closed.

WIMBLEDON TO CROYDON

Wimbledon to Croydon

This little line is now the northern spur of London Tramlink. For more detail on this line and its possible role in a wider scheme go here.

READING EXTENSION

Reading extension

This can be though of as tying up a loose end, and the arrangements still hold to this day.

HAVANT TO GODALMING

Havant to Godalming

This line comprises the majority of the main line between London and Portsmouth, and still fucntions today pretty much as it did then (save for South West Trains’ continuing problems with reliability and punctuality).

SALISBURY TO YEOVIL

Salisbury to Yeovil

This little section, which from Salisbury calls at Tisbury, Gillingham, Templecombe, Sherborne and Yeovil Junction was conceived as a useful link. Yeovil has two stations, Yeovil Junction and Yeovil Pen Mill which are so close together as to be considered effectively an interchange.

YEOVIL TO EXETER

Yeovil to Exeter

A short western extension, which is still in use today, with stations at Crewkerne, Axminster, Honiton, Feniton, Whimple, Pridhoe, St James Park, Exeter Central and Exeter St Davids. 

BRANCH TO CAMBRIDGE TOWN

Branch to Cambridge Town

No misprints here – what was then known as Cambridge Town, Surrey is now called Camberley, and this branch, which diverges from the line to Reading at Ascot and calls at Bagshot, Camberley and Frimley (well known to those who enjoy darts) before joining the Aldershot line at Ash Vale, is still very much functioning.

SUSSEX AND SURREY

Sussex and Surrey

The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway clearing the way for future developments in Sussex and Surrey, many fo which came to fruition and are still in service, and some of which fell beneath the Beeching axe in the 1960s. 

AMALGAMATION

Amalgamation

The London and South Western getting the go-ahead for expansionism. 

BASINGSTOKE TO NEWBURY

Basingstoke to Newbury

There is these days no direct connection between Basingstoke and Newbury. The mentions of Tooting, Merton and Wimbledon are of interest to me as this is the part of the world I grew up in. The station referred to as Lower Merton is nowadays called Haydons Road. All of Tooting, Merton and Wimbledon nowadays have London Underground stations serving them as well – the District reached Wimbledon in 1869, while Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon (which between them cover Tooting and Merton) were all opened in 1926 when the Northern line was extended southwards from Clapham Common to Morden. 

DORSET

Dorset

Purely about improving access, and having travelled that way many times over the years I can tell you that the track widening referred to did take place. There are still regular services from Bournemouth and Poole up to the Midlands, as well as between London and Weymouth. 

NORTH CORNWALL

North Cornwall

Something of a ‘portmanteau’ act – covering operations in a vast area and relating to many different sections of railway. Over 2,100 years ago a Roman consul named Titus Didius recognised the undesirability of unrelated matters being tacked together in big unwieldy pieces of legislation and outlawed the practice – an aspect of Roman law that we would have been well advised to incorporate into our own laws.

The Great Anomaly

An account of the Metropolitan line with some bold and imaginative suggestions for the future.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest addition to my series “London Station by Station“. My post on the Hammersmith and City line enjoyed some success, and my second essay in covering a whole line in one post, Project Piccadilly, was even more successful, featuring in two online publications. So now I am producing a third post of that type, this time on the Metropolitan line.

ANOMALIES

Metropolitan by name, very unmetropolitan by nature. Also, it is classed as London Underground, but most of its length is in the open air. The only stretch of this line is currently constituted that follows the original Metropolitan Railway is from just west of Farringdon to just east of Baker Street (The original eastern terminus was at Farringdon Street, just south of the present station, and the Metropolitan platforms at Baker Street (nos 1-4) are not those used by the original line). Almost the entire length of the current line (and there was once a lot more of it as you will see in due course) developed from…

A SINGLE TRACK BRANCH FROM BAKER STREET TO SWISS COTTAGE

In 1868 a single track spur was opened from the Metropolitan Railway running north from Baker Street to St John’s Wood Road, Marlborough Road and terminating at Swiss Cottage. It was this little spur that caught the attention of Edward Watkin, who saw it as having a role to play in achieving his dream of a rail network linking Paris, London and Manchester, his three favourite cities (he would have managed this had he not been baulked over his version of the Channel Tunnel, which eventually opened a century later).

EXPANSION

That single track spur would be doubled, and from its next point north, Finchley Road, quadrupled and it would spread out into the hinterlands of Buckinghamshire, giving rise to a number of new branches. At its absolute height there were branches terminating at Uxbridge (sill present in its entirety), Stanmore (still served but not by the Met), Watford (still present as opened in 1925), Chesham (still as opened in 1889), Verney Junction (a place of no significance near modern day Milton Keynes) and Brill (at 51 miles from Baker Street the furthest point from London reached by any London Underground line). The latter two branches were closed in the middle 1930s, services terminating at Quainton Road just beyond Aylesbury for a time, until further paring back to Aylesbury (still served by mainline trains, with a new station at Aylesbury Vale Parkway just beyond Aylesbury itself) and finally Amersham, the current outlying point of the system, a mere 27 miles from Baker Street.

After the expansionism of Watkin, the third of the three great figures in the development of the Metropolitan took over, Robert Hope Selbie, creator of “Metroland”.

To help you orient yourself here are some maps…

Brill and Oxford.
Brill and Oxford.
The Metropolitan Railway and its connecttions.
The Metropolitan Railway and its connecttions.
“Metroland”
The area around Verney Junction.
The area around Verney Junction.

To finish this section, The Stanmore branch, along with the intermediate stations between Finchley Road and Wembley Park, and new tube-level intermediates between Baker Street and Finchley Road was taken over by the Bakerloo line in 1939, and then to ease congestion on the latter by the new Jubilee line (with brand spanking new stations at Bond Street, Green Park and Charing Cross as well).

SPECULATIVE SUGGESTIONS

Of the Metropolitan branches that are still served by that line, the Amersham and Watford branches would be subsumed into my plans for a London Orbital Railway (Rickmansworth would be the northwestern corner of the orbital network itself, with a spur running via Amersham and Aylesbury to form significant connections at Oxford and/ or Milton Keynes (see the section above, and also my post “Ongar”). The Chesham branch would then become one of just two Metropolitan branches, with a northward extension to Tring and another interchange with mainline railways. The Uxbridge branch would remain unchanged, though gaining a connection with the Orbital route. At the other end, Aldgate would be abandoned as a terminus, the track connection from Aldgate East to Shadwell be revived for the Metropolitan, and a connection via New Cross to South Eastern tracks and Metropolitan services running through to Sevenoaks would further increase the London Underground presence in Southeast London and West Kent (see Project Piccadilly for another envisaged connection to this part of the world). The reason for projecting this line over existing track rather than looking at a completely new route is that is one of the old lines, built to mainline specifications and its tunnels were built using the cut-and-cover method, which makes building new tunnel sections more problematic than for a deep-level tube line.

THE TRANSITION POINT

At this stage of proceedings, having seen the Metropolitan lines past, present and a possible vision for its future we are going to make a journey along the line as it is currently constituted, so fasten your seatbelts…

ALDGATE – BAKER STREET

This section has been covered in great detail in previous posts of mine:

BAKER STREET – FINCHLEY ROAD

This is the last underground segment of the Metropolitan line, and you can see the platforms and some of the signs of old stations which were closed when the Bakerloo line Stanmore branch opened in 1939. Just before emerging into the open air, the Metropolitan tracks diverge to make way for the emerging Jubilee (former Bakerloo) tracks. From the platform at Finchley Road one can see the 1939 tunnel end. As at other places where ‘tube’ and ‘subsurface’ trains enter tunnels close together there are protective mechanisms to prevent a subsurface level train that gets on the wrong tracks from reaching (and colliding with) the beginning of a tube tunnel.

FINCHLEY ROAD – WEMBLEY PARK

There are no fewer than five Jubilee line stations between these two, all originally served by the Metropolitan and hence with platforms at the ‘compromise’ height also seen where the Piccadilly shares tracks with the District and Metropolitan lines. The Metropolitan has four tracks between Finchley Road and Moor Park and this feature is used to enable trains to Amersham to skip stops – they go fast from Finchley Road to Harrow-on-the-Hill and then fast from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Moor Park. On the route used by Watford and Uxbridge trains (there are currently few through services to Chesham) the next stop is Wembley Park. Whichever route you are on this section features the highest speeds anywhere on London Underground, in the vicinity of 70mph.

Wembley Park is the local station for Wembley Stadium. Between those who think that England has no need for a single national football stadium and those who think that the national football stadium should be in the midlands Wembley has a lot of detractors. I have sympathy with both the camps mentioned in the previous paragraph – I would not have gone for a national football stadium but even accepting the need for such, the midlands would have been the place to build it. I did get to the original Wembley once, to attend a mass given by the then pope, John Paul II.

WEMBLEY PARK TO HARROW-ON-THE-HILL

There are two intermediate stations between these two, Preston Road, which has been served since 1908 and Northwick Park, which opened only in 1923.By comparison, Harrow-on-the-Hill opened in 1880. Harrow-on-the-Hill is the first stop on the line from Marylebone to Aylesbury and it is also the point at which the Uxbridge branch of the Metropolitan diverges from the rest.

THE UXBRIDGE BRANCH

For more detail on this branch please consult Project Piccadilly. Rayners Lane, where the two lines converge for the run to Uxbridge is one of only two direct interchanges between the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines, the other being at that vast node point, King’s Cross St Pancras.

HARROW-ON-THE-HILL TO MOOR PARK

Amersham trains, as mentioned above, run non-stop between these two stations. Watford trains call on the way at North Harrow, Pinner, Northwood Hills (where Bodilsen UK had one of their shops when I worked for them as a data input clerk) and Northwood. Of these four stations, only Pinner (1885) dates from when the track was laid down, the others being later additions. Moor Park itself only opened in 1910, originally as Sandy Lodge, which became Moor Park & Sandy Lodge in 1923 and Moor Park in 1950. Moor Park marks the end of the section on which there is a division between slow and fast services. In the days before it was considered necessary to include all London Underground stations in travel card zones, Moor Park was the outermost station on the Metropolitan which could be legally visited on a travel card (the only other section of London Underground to be outside the travel card zones was the eastern end of the Central line, where the boundary station was Loughton). The other point of significance about Moor Park is that it is the divergence point for the…

WATFORD BRANCH

Just two stations, Croxley and Watford, both opened in 1925. Croxley is less than 200 yards from Croxley Green, terminus of a minor side branch of the mainline railway from Watford Junction. This has given rise to various proposals involving linking the Metropolitan to Watford Junction. My own speculative scheme is for this branch, and the Croxley Green branch to form part of the northern leg of the London Orbital Railway, along with the Amersham branch, making use of the Rickmansworth-Watford curve, and another underused branch line between Watford and St Albans. For more on this part of the world I recommend F W Goudie and Douglas Stuckey’s book “West of Watford: Watford Metropolitan & the L.M.S Croxley Green and Rickmansworth branches. Also, do check out my post on Watford and Watford Junction.

A fine account of public transport in the Watford area.
A fine account of public transport in the Watford area.

RICKMANSWORTH

Rickmansworth opened in 1887, and in 1925 link from Rickmansworth to Croxley on the Watford branch was opened, and subsequently closed in 1960. Rickmansworth is also the outermost station on the Metropolitan to have been shown on Henry C Beck’s first attempt at a schematic diagram of London Underground (one of the great design coups of the 20th century).

Henry C Beck's first schematic diagram of London Underground.
Henry C Beck’s first schematic diagram of London Underground.

RICKMANSWORTH – CHALFONT & LATIMER

This section opened in 1889, with one intermediate station at Chorleywood. These days Chalfont & Latimer has two services running from it: through services from Aldgate to Amersham and a shuttle service to and from Chesham. Ironically given that it now has the minor role, Chesham opened first in 1889. In 1989 to celebrate the centenary a steam service ran through to Chesham, starting from Baker Street.

THE CHESHAM SHUTTLE

It took 50 years from the idea first being mooted for Chesham to acquire a train service. Edward Watkin, under whose aegis the line was opened envisaged a further northern extension making use of a natural gap in the Chilterns to connect with London and North Western (as it was in those days) at Tring. Further information about the Chesham branch and its history can  be found in Clive Foxell’s book “The Chesham Shuttle”. The journey from Chalfont & Latimer to Chesham is the longest single stop journey on the system at 3.89 miles (a mere 24.3 times the length of the shortest, from Leicester Square to Covent Garden).

Foxell

AMERSHAM

This is the end of our journey along the current Metropolitan line. It is the highest point above sea level anywhere on the system, 500 feet up in the Chilterns. Beyond here, the current main line continues to Great Missenden, Wendover, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway.

AFTERWORD

I hope you have enjoyed the ride so far. I will finish this post by making one final reference to my future vision of public transport in and around London, and the role of the Metropolitan in it. Given the closeness of its integration with the London Orbital Railway Network, and the fact that my envisaged south eastern extension utilizes London Overground, and that it would make sense for the London Orbital Railway to form the outer limits of the London Overground network, I could see the Metropolitan line being subsumed completely into a greatly expanded London Overground network, meaning either that the Metropolitan line would disappear from London Underground maps or that the Hammersmith and City line, which contains the entire surviving portion of the original Metropolitan Railway should be renamed the Metropolitan in deference to its history. Here a couple of map pics to finish, one a heavily edited shot from the Diagrammatic History an one showing the current Metropolitan line’s connections.

DSCN4926 DSCN4927

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.

INTRODUCTION

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.

THE GREAT ORIGINAL

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

THE JOURNEY

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.

HAMMERSMITH

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.

LATIMER ROAD

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.

PADDINGTON

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.

EDGWARE ROAD

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.

BAKER STREET

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.

EUSTON SQUARE

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.

KINGS CROSS ST PANCRAS

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.

FARRINGDON

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.

BARBICAN

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.

MOORGATE

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.

LIVERPOOL STREET

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…

ALDGATE EAST

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.

WHITECHAPEL

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.

MILE 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.

WEST HAM

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).

BARKING

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).