INTRODUCTION

The inspiration for this post came from a post on estersblog, which I link to by way of one of her splendid pictures at the end of this introduction. I will briefly mention by name all the stations that are within walking distance of Greenwich proper (North Greenwich, in spite of the second part of it’s name does not count), then I will provide links to some of the main sites that Greenwich has to offer, and I will conclude by describing a hypothetical day trip from King’s Lynn, where I now live to Greenwich.

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THE STATIONS

When the Docklands Light Railway first opened its southern terminus was Island Gardens, thought it has subsequently been extended south, via a new station at Cutty Sark to Lewisham. In addition to Island Gardens and Cutty Sark there are two mainline railway stations which are within walking distance of these attractions, Greenwich and Maze Hill. Having paid lip service to all four stations, and acknowledging the value of Cutty Sark station for those whose mobility is restricted, I serve notice that only two of these stations will receive further mention.

THE ATTRACTIONS

The whole area deserves to be explored properly, but here are four places particularly worthy of mention:

  1. The Cutty Sark – how many ships get to have a station named in their honour? This tea clipper well repays a visit and is a good starting point. For more about this attraction click on the image below to visit the official website.
    Cutty Sark
  2. The Gipsy Moth pub. Right by the Cutty Sark is a high quality pub where you can take refreshment before heading off to the other attractions. Click the picture below to find out more at their website:
    Pub in Greenwich
  3. The National Maritime Museum – set in a lovely area of parkland that also includes my final attraction, this museum has added many new exhibits since my last visit. Click on the image below to visit their website:
    A detail from 'Emma Hart as Circe' by George Romney ©Tate, London 2016
  4. Last but by no means least of the Greenwich fab four is the Royal Observatory which also now houses the London Planetarium (and if the latter is as good as it was in its Baker Street days you are in for a real treat). Click on the image below, which I took as part of my paid employment while imaging an old album that will be going under the hammer in James and Sons’ April auction, to visit the website:

A HYPOTHETICAL DAY TRIP FROM
KING’S LYNN TO GREENWICH

While there is little to be done about the King’s Lynn to London and back element of the journey except hope that there are not too many disruptions, there are lots of public transport options for getting to and from Greenwich, and this section of the post gives a route with a couple of variations that involves no going back the way we came. 

Alighting at King’s Cross, I would head down to the Northern line platforms and get a southbound train to Bank, where I would change to the Docklands Light Railway and travel to Island Gardens (not Cutty Sark), from where I would start the pedestrian section of my journey. Alighting at Island Gardens, no longer satisfactory as in the days of the original elevated terminus, I would pass under the Thames, by way of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to arrive at my first attraction, the Cutty Sark.

Once I had finished looking round the Cutty Sark I would head to the nearby Gipsy Moth pub for a pint of something decent before heading to the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory in that order. If possible I would sample the Planetarium while there.

For the journey back to King’s Cross I would head to Greenwich railway station, take a train to London Bridge, where I would head for the Jubilee line and catch a train heading in the direction of Stanmore. There are three possibilities for completing the circuit to King’s Cross from here:

  1. The quickest option, but also the one I would be least likely to take, would be to change at Green Park to the Victoria line (the interchange is long and often unpleasantly crowded, as is the equally possible interchange to the Piccadilly line at this same station) and travel north to King’s Cross.
  2. The middle option, and the one that I would be likeliest to take, is to travel along the Jubilee line as far as Baker Street and then ascend the escalator to the Metropolitan/ Circle/ Hammersmith and City line platforms, travelling east from there to King’s Cross.
  3. If time allowed and I was feeling so inclined I might stay on the Jubilee line until Finchley Road and make the cross-platform interchange to the Metropolitan line there.

SOME MAPS

Here to end the post are some maps:

We start with a picture showing the Docklands Light Railway and it’s connections, as this line bulks large in the story of this post.

This picture shows the whole area featured in my hypothetical day trip.

A close up of the area of interest from a public transport point of view.

A close up photo of part an old A-Z map page.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

This post will cover the Northern line, and as such it is going to be somewhat convoluted.

ORDER DECREASES OVER TIME

This section of the post deals with the history of the Northern line. The title above, which makes reference to the laws of thermodynamics is apposite for this line which has certainly become more disordered over its history.

THE CITY AND SOUTH LONDON RAILWAY

On December 18th 1890 a new development in public transport history occurred. The development of electric traction allowed use to be made of the comparative ease of tunnelling through the blue clay that lies beneath London to build deep level railways, called tubes because of the tunnelling method used. The City and South London Railway, running from Stockwell to King William Street with intermediate stations at Oval, Kennington, Elephant & Castle and Borough.

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In 1900 the King William Street terminus was abandoned in favour of new stations at London Bridge, Bank and Moorgate, while the line was also extended south to Clapham North and Clapham Common. In 1903 the line was extended to Old Street and Angel.

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THE CHARING CROSS, EUSTON & HAMPSTEAD RAILWAY

This line was opened in 1907, ending the great tube building boom of 1905-7 which also saw the genesis of the Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines. It ran from Charing Cross to Golders Green with a branch to Highgate, the bifurcation point being Camden Town. The City and South London was extended to King’s Cross and Euston. Plans for an amalgamation were already developing.

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THE NORTHERN CITY LINE

This was the original designation of what is now a section of mainline railway in tube tunnels running from Finsbury Park to Moorgate. This section of track opened in 1904, originally operated by the Metropolitan but a part of the Northern line for many years.

AMALGAMATION AND PLANS NOT COMPLETED

The 1920s saw a combination of the final amalgamation of the City & South London with the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead, with the latter being extended south to Kennington as part of the process. The complete line was extended to Morden, still the southern outpost of the system, in 1926. It was also in this period that the Northern line took over the Northen City section mentioned above, and that suburban branches of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) were subsumed, extending the northern termini to Mill Hill East, High Barnet and Edgware. As this map section makes clear, there were further plans that were never fulfilled.

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At Edgware tunnels north of the station where the line was to have been extended are still visible. The last big change to affect the northern line was when the Northern City section became part of the mainline railway network in the 1970s.

SPECULATIONS

Having looked at the past, it is time for a look to the future. Firstly, although I am normally a big fan of integration, I would split the northern line, so that there would be one line running from High Barnet to Morden via Bank, with a branch to Mill Hill East, and the other running from Edgware to Kennington via Charing Cross.

EDGWARE-KENNINGTON

This line, comprising the Edgware and Charing Cross branches would be extended south from Kennington to East Croydon and on to Gatwick Airport, going via Brixton and Streatham among other places. Beyond Edgware, the line would go to Stonegrove, Newlands, Elstree High Street, Letchmore Heath, Aldenham and Garston, at which point it would share the Jubilee line route north to Hemel Hemsptead. There would also be a branch from Elstree High Street to Elstree and Borehamwood and then following the Thameslink route as far as Luton Airport Parkway.

My chosen extension beyond Edgware would add this walk to the list of those accessible by London Underground.

My chosen extension beyond Edgware would add this walk to the list of those accessible by London Underground.

HIGH BARNET – MORDEN

From High Barnet the line would go to Monken Hadley, Saffron Green, Well End, Shenley, Radlett and St Albans, possibly the running north to Luton Airport Parkway.

From Morden the line would extend south to Morden South, St Helier, North Cheam, Stoneleigh, Ewell West and Leatherhead, from where it would follow the existing route to Dorking.

Finally, the Mill Hill branch would be extended to Mill Hill Broadway, Edgware and Stanmore, from whence it could follow the Jubilee to Hemel Hempstead.

CONTINUED CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THE LINES

These lines while separate entities, would still of course be closely connected, with interchanges agt Kennington and Camden Town, and new connections at St Albans and Edgware, but the scope of their services would be greatly extended without the complications the arise from all the branching the currently exists. Also of course, the track connections at Kennington and Camden Town would be preserved for stock transfer purposes.

THE NORTHERN LINE TODAY

Our journey will run from Morden to High Barnet via Bank, with a diversion to Mill Hill East, before we bounce back to Waterloo and head north from there to Edgware. So with the itinerary set out we begin at…

MORDEN

The current southern outpost of the system, and the only station at the southern end of the Northern line to be open to the elements. The station building, like all of those we will meet until Clapham South, is faced in Portland Stone. Here is a picture of this station under construction for you…

Morden

Morden is also one of the two end points of the Wandle Trail (the other is Mitcham Junction station).

SOUTH WIMBLEDON

Leaving Morden, we enter the longest continuous section of tunnel on the system, 17.3 miles via Bank to Finchley Central. The first station we arrive it in this section of tunnel is South Wimbledon. The surface building has a curved frontage. A short walk in one direction takes one to Wimbledon Station and many potential routes. Another route from the station crosses Croydon Tramlink, emerging at Wimbledon Chase (the station name is reflective of the pernicious practice called hunting).

COLLIERS WOOD

This station has a ‘three-eighths of an octagon’ type frontage. Near here is the Sava Centre, a Sainsbury’s hypermarket. It was at a pub close to this station that I watched the first part of the coverage of the 1997 General Election, the first in which I was eligible to vote.

TOOTING BROADWAY

The first of two stations to have Tooting in their name. Like South Wimbledon this station has a curved frontage. It is built on top of a subterranean lake. Not far from this station is Graveney School, which regularly supplies ball boys and girls for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, and which I attended between 1986 and 1993. Also close to this station is the Sree Krishna, a high quality Indian Restaurant.

TOOTING BEC

My home station for 20 years. This station, like Balham to the north has two surface buildings, on opposite corners of a four-way junction. This is one of them:

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Tooting Bec Road is flanked by Tooting Bec Common on one side and Tooting Graveney Common on the other. Within Tooting Graveney Common is an athletics track. Nestling just near the railway which splits Tooting Bec Common is Tooting Bec Lido, a supersize outdoor swimming pool. Beyond the bridge, the common is bounded at one end by Garrads Road, while Ambleside Avenue takes one to Streatham Station and Tooting Bec Gardens leads through to Streatham High Road, by way of St Leonards Church.

BALHAM

BAL-HAM: GATEWAY TO THE SOUTH

This is one of the stations designed by Charles Holden and opened in 1926 when the Northern line was extended south to Morden (the southernmost point on the system, a mere 10 miles south of the centre of London – by comparison, Amersham, the most far flung station on the current network is 27 miles out, and Brill, the furthest ever outpost of any line is 51 miles out).

I can provide pictures of both surface buildings and some blurb about the station itself in the form of two photos of stuff in the book Bright Underground Spaces…

The pictures of the surface buildings.

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Although there are only five stations south of Balham on the Northern line, it is also a main-line railway station, and connects southwards to a number of destinations via three distinct routes, through Streatham Common, Streatham Hill and Hackbridge.

I made extensive use of Balham at one time, when I lived at Parklands Road and worked in New Malden, and it was easier to take a longer walk than strictly necessary and get a train to Clapham Junction, where I could change to another train for New Malden than to do anything else.

Also, given the the majority of it was through commons, the walk though long was quite a pleasant one.

To finish, as usual I have some map pics…

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The full map, spread out.

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 CLAPHAM SOUTH

The first of three stations whose name begins with Clapham. This station is the last Holden designed station to feature in this post.

CLAPHAM COMMON

The southern terminus of the line from 1900 to 1926. This station and its neighbour Clapham North are the last two stations to sport the island platforms (one regular-sized platform between two sets of tracks) that were a feature of the City & South London Railway, although a couple of  other stations have legacies of such platforms.

CLAPHAM NORTH

The other island-platform station. Near this station is Mary Seacole House, named in honour of a Jamaican born nurse who helped soldiers during the Crimean War. This deeply unprepossessing tower block houses offices used by Lambeth Council.

STOCKWELL

The first interchange between this line and another underground line (Balham and Clapham North both have connections to main line railway stations and IMO South Wimbledon is close enough to Wimbledon that that should be shown as an interchange) in this case the Victoria. This is a cross-platform interchange, one of four on the Victoria line. A change here is often advisable even if it means one more change than is strictly necessary for the journey (e.g Tooting Bec – Stockwell – Victoria – South Kensington is a quicker journey than Tooting Bec – Embankment – South Kensington) due to the extra speed of travel on the Victoria line.

OVAL

IN THE SHADOW OF THE GAS HOLDERS

I am treating these two stations together because they are at opposite ends of the Oval cricket ground. Oval was one of the original six stations of the City and South London Railway, the world’s first deep-level tube railway, which opened in 1890. Vauxhall only opened as an underground station in 1971, part of the newest section of the Victoria line, but is also a main-line railway station and would have opened in that capacity long before Oval.

Today is the Saturday of the Oval test, by tradition the last of the summer. At the moment things are not looking rosy for England, but more spectacular turnarounds have been achieved (bowled at for 15 in 1st dig and won by 155 runs a day and a half later – Hampshire v Warwickshire 1922, 523-4D in 1st dig and beaten by ten wickets two days later – Warwickshire v Lancashire 1982 to give but two examples). The Oval in it’s long and illustrious history has seen some of test cricket’s greatest moments:

1880: 1st test match on English soil – England won by five wickets, Billy Murdoch of Australia won a sovereign from ‘W G’ by topping his 152 in the first innings by a single run.

1882: the original ‘Ashes’ match – the term came from a joke obituary penned after this game by Reginald Shirley Brooks. Australia won by 7 runs, England needing a mere 85 to secure the victory were mown down by Fred Spofforth for 77.

1886: A triumph for England, with W G Grace running up 170, at the time the highest test score by an England batsman. Immediately before the fall of the first England wicket the scoreboard nicely indicated the difference in approach between Grace and his opening partner William Scotton (Notts): Batsman no 1: 134           Batsman no 2: 34

1902: Jessop’s Match – England needing 263 in the final innings were 48-5 and in the last-chance saloon with the tables being mopped when Jessop arrived at the crease. He scored 104 in 77 minutes, and so inspired the remainder of the English batsmen, that with those two cool Yorkshiremen, Hirst and Rhodes together at the death England sneaked home by one wicket.

1926: England’s first post World ward I Ashes win, secured by the batting of Sutcliffe (161) and Hobbs (100) and the bowling of young firebrand Larwood and old sage Rhodes – yes the very same Rhodes who was there at the death 24 years earlier.

1938: The biggest margin of victory in test history – England win by an innings and 579. Australia batted without opener Jack Fingleton and even more crucially no 3 Don Bradman in either innings (it was only confirmation that the latter would not be batting that induced England skipper Hammond to declare at 903-7)

1948: Donald Bradman’s farewell to test cricket – a single boundary would have guaranteed him a three figure batting average, but he failed to pick Eric Hollies’ googly, collecting a second-ball duck and finishing wit a final average of 99.94 – still almost 40 runs an innings better than the next best.

1953: England reclaim the Ashes they lost in 1934 with Denis Compton making the winning hit.

1968: A South-African born batsman scores a crucial 158, and then when it looks like England might be baulked by the weather secures a crucial breakthrough with the ball, exposing the Australian tail to the combination of Derek Underwood and a rain affected pitch. This as not sufficient to earn Basil D’Oliveira an immediate place on that winter’s tour of his native land, and the subsequent behaviour of the South African government when he is named as a replacement for Tom Cartwright (offically injured, unoffically unwilling to tour South Africa) sets off a chain of events that will leave South Africa in the sporting wilderness for almost quarter of a century.

1975: Australia 532-9D, England 191 – England in the mire … but a fighting effort all the way down the line in the second innings, Bob Woolmer leading the way with 149 sees England make 538 in the second innings and Australia have to settle for the draw (enough for them to win the series 1-0).

1985: England need only a draw to retain the Ashes, and a second-wicket stand of 351 between Graham Gooch (196) and David Gower (157) gives them a position of dominance they never relinquish, although a collapse, so typical of England in the 1980s and 90s sees that high-water mark of 371-1 turn into 464 all out. Australia’s final surrender is tame indeed, all out for 241 and 129 to lose by an innings and 94, with only Greg Ritchie’s 1st innings 64 worthy of any credit.

2005: For the second time in Oval history an innings of 158 by a South-African born batsman will be crucial to the outcome of the match, and unlike in 1968, the series. This innings would see Kevin Peter Pietersen, considered by many at the start of this match as there for a good time rather than a long time, finish the series as its leading run scorer.

2009: A brilliant combined bowling effort from Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann sees Australia all out for 160 after being 72-0 in their first innings, a debut century from Jonathan Trott knocks a few more nails into the coffin, and four more wickets for Swann in the second innings, backed by the other bowlers and by Andrew Flintoff’s last great moment in test cricket – the unassisted run out of Ricky Ponting (not accompanied by the verbal fireworks of Trent Bridge 2005 on this occasion!).

The above was all written without consulting books, but for those who wish to know more about test cricket at this iconic venue, there is a book dedicated to that subject by David Mortimer.

As usual I conclude this post with some map pics…

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KENNINGTON

At this station the Northern line splits into two branches, one going via Charing Cross and the other via Bank, before a brief recombination at Camden Town and then a further bifurcation. If travelling from a point south of Kennington to a destination on the Charing Cross branch the advice is to get the first train and change at Kennington if necessary, since some Charing Cross branch services start from Kennington. Not far from this station is the Imperial War Museum.

ELEPHANT & CASTLE

An interchange with the Bakerloo line and also with mainline rail services. This area is being redeveloped.

BOROUGH

One of only three stations on the Bank branch to have no interchanges. This station serves London’s most renowned food market.

LONDON BRIDGE

Interchanges with the Jubilee line, in which context I wrote about it in detail, and mainline railways.

BANK

I covered this station in great detail when writing about the Central line.

MOORGATE

An interchange with the Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan lines. At street level this station is directly opposite an entrance to the Barbican Centre. If what the Barbican itself has to offer, a short walk through it brings you to the Museum of London which is well worth a visit.

OLD STREET

This station has a connection to mainline railways (the Northern City section referred to earlier in this post). It serves Moorfields Eye Hospital.

ANGEL

This station has no interchanges. It possesses the longest escalators on the system (these claimed the record from Leicester Square, not Holborn as erroneously stated in this article). Shrewd observers may note that one of the platforms at this station is exceptionally wide. This is because until its fairly recent refurbishment, including the building of the escalators mentioned above, Angel still had an island platform, which was replaced as part of the work.

KINGS CROSS ST PANCRAS

I have written extensively about this station elsewhere on this site, so all I shall add is that the Northern line platforms at this station are the deepest of any at the station.

EUSTON

EUSTON AND EUSTON SQUARE

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

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

INTRODUCING THE RAILWAY DETECTIVE

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

CONCLUSION AND PICS

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

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The Diagrammatic History

The Diagrammatic History.

MORNINGTON CRESCENT

This station is best known for having given its name to a game.

CAMDEN TOWN

A double bifurcation point, as south of here the line splits in Bank and Charing Cross branches, while to the north it splits into High Barnet and Edgware branches. This is also the closest station to London Zoo.

An old promotional poster for the Zoo.

An old promotional poster for the Zoo.

For more on Camden Town, and a view of the area from a different perspective you can see what Ester makes of it on her Travelling Around The World blog by clicking here.

KENTISH TOWN

From 1907 until 1924 there was an intermediate station called South Kentish Town, which was closed due industrial action at Lots Road Power Station and in the event never re-opened. This station has an interchange with mainline railway services. The surface level platforms are spanned by a pedestrian bridge which means that direct access to streets on both sides of the station is possible.

TUFNELL PARK

This station is currently closed, officially expected to reopen in 2017.

ARCHWAY

One of the original northern termini of the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead. Close to this station is the point at which Dick Whittington legendarily turned back towards London and a career that would see him become Lord Mayor of London.

HIGHGATE

OF MUSIC AND MARX

A CURIOUS HISTORY

One stop south of Highgate is Archway, which opened in 1907 and was for some time the northern terminus of the line. One stop to the north is East Finchley, which was first served by Northern line trains in 1939, having previously been part of the LNER. Highgate, our subject, only opened in 1941 – something of an afterthought.

TO THE UNKNOWN GODDESS

This title comes from a CD case, and concerns a story that began almost 400 years ago and that touches on Highgate…

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In 1619 a servant girl the household of the dramatist, librettist and poet Giulio Strozzi gave birth to an illegitimate child. The child, Barbara Strozzi, grew up in the household, becoming Giulio’s “figliuola elettiva” (elective daughter). Encouraged by Giulio she developed considerable musical talents and became known in her own lifetime as a composer and performer.

She is not so well known these days, but it was at Highgate that I first heard her music. The performance featured the same four people as the CD (Catherine Bott, Paula Chateauneuf, Timothy Roberts and Frances Kelly), which I bought that very evening.

A FAMOUS GRAVE

To be fair, quite a few well known people are buried in Highgate Cemetery, but I am confining myself to one. Karl Marx was buried there in 1883, and Marxism 2015, a five-day political event begins in London tomorrow afternoon. I will be there and I intend to put up regular blog posts and tweet about being at the event – watch this space. For much more detail and a different perspective on Highgate Cemetery I recommend this post on alicevstheworld.

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EAST FINCHLEY

One of three stations with Finchley in its name. This is also the last station on this section of the line to be in tunnel.

FINCHLEY CENTRAL

This station is at surface level, and looks exactly like a rural railway station, not least because that is how it (and the rest of this section of the line on to High Barnet) started life, as a part of the London & North Eastern Railway’s network of local services. Thus we have the paradoxical situation whereby the oldest stations on the line (dating from 1872) have been served for less long by this line than ay of the others. Although we will be following the mainline to High Barnet first we have a little diversion to make to…

MILL HILL EAST

Although this is a very minor spur of track it does include one system-wide record holder. The Dollis Brook Viaduct on this branch is 60 feet above the surface, the highest point of elevation above ground anywhere on the system. Mill Hill East station is itself elevated, though not sufficiently so to warrant up escalators from the street as seen at Alperton.

WEST FINCHLEY

The third and last of the Finchleys.

WOODSIDE PARK and TOTTERIDGE & WHETSTONE

These two stations are attractive, with platforms in the style of the LNER with whom they started life.

HIGH BARNET

The end of the line. There is open country beyond the station.

WATERLOO

Having finished the Bank and High Barnet branches, it is time to take on the Charing Cross and Edgware branches, and of course we have already covered Kennington. I have written in great detail about Waterloo in my posts on the Bakerloo  and Jubilee lines.

EMBANKMENT

I wrote in detail about this station in my post on the District line. However a couple of Northern line specific things deserve mention here. Firstly, there are floodgates on the the Northern line platforms because the Thames is directly overhead. Second, this station is further below sea-level than any other on the system, 67 feet to be precise. Third and final due to the fact that the southbound platform uses what was a terminal loop in the days of the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead there is famously a gap between the platform edge and the trains, hence “Mind The Gap”.

CHARING CROSS

This station was originally called Strand, and was not recognized as having an interchange with Charing Cross main line station. Both Charing Cross and its close neighbour Embankment have been through many name changes down the years. The Bakerloo line platforms that now have the name Charing Cross were originally opened as Trafalgar Square. It was the opening of the Jubilee line in 1979 with it’s southern terminus at Charing Cross that led to these two stations being shown as an interchange, because both did have an interchange to the Jubilee line, although the interchange from the Northern to the Bakerloo at this station would not have been advisable in any circumstance – Embankment and Waterloo are both much better options. Charing Cross Station is the centre of the 10KM (6 Miles) radius circle within which drivers of black cabs are required to know everything. This is called “The Knowledge”, a designation which may come from a quote from the world’s most famous consulting detective, in The Adventure of the Red Headed League, when he tells Watson “It is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of London”. For more specific detail about Charing Cross and its neighbour Embankment check out this post.

LEICESTER SQUARE

Until the refurbishment of Angel this station possessed the longest escalators on the system at 161 feet in length. It serves an area of London known both for its Chinese Restaurants and for its Theatres – one designation for this part of London is Theatreland. Additonally, for map lovers, Stanford’s, the greatest of all map shops, is just down the road from this station. There is an interchange to the Piccadilly line here.

the Theatreland walk.

the Theatreland walk.

TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD

An interchange to the Central line, and from 2017 (if the project is completed on schedule, which in British public transport terms is a big if) Crossrail. This postcard shows the current layout of the station:

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Tottenham Court Road is in London’s busiest shopping district. Unique among the shops to be found here is Bookmarks. Also, very close to this station is the British Museum. Recent Developments at this station are covered in this piece from Time Out.

GOODGE STREET

The only station on the Charing Cross branch not to have an interchange with at least one other line. Close to this station is what is probably London’s best stocked bookshop, the Gower Street branch of Waterstones. On nearby Malet Street is Student Central, formerly the University of London Union. Next door to Student Central is Birkbeck College. Among the other educational establishments based within walking distance of this station are the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), The Institute of Education and University College London. In between this station and Tottenham Court Road is the very striking Centrepoint Tower.

WARREN STREET

A very long and convoluted interchange with the Victoria line is possible here – although one stop beyond, to Euston would surely be better. This station is even closer to UCL than Goodge Street, while a stroll round the corner takes one to Euston Square, and the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. Also, like the previous two stations this one is within eyesight of a very distinctive tower, in its case the BT Tower.

ON TO THE EDGWARE BRANCH

Euston and Camden Town have already been covered while talking about the Bank branch, so it is time to move on to…

CHALK FARM

This station was at one time my aunt’s local station. Access to the surface is provided by lifts here, as also at the next two stations.

BELSIZE PARK

This station opened in 1907 as part of the original section of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway, which was subsequently amalgamated with the City and South London Railway to form the Northern line. It is located on the Edgware branch, two stops beyond the bifurcation point of Camden Town and one stop south of Hampstead. Like its northerly neighbour it is very deep, and accessible from the street only by lift or staircase. Although it is shown on the maps as offering no interchanges, Gospel Oak on London Overground is walkable should one ever have reason to make such a change.

MURDER ON THE UNDERGROUND

This is the title of a book by 1930s crime writer Mavis Doriel Hay. The murder itself takes place on the stairs mentioned above, and all the action is set around this section of the northern line. Having just read the book I heartily recommend at and am looking forward to reading the other book of hers I have located at one of thelibraries I patronise, Murder on the Cherwell, set in another place I have a more than passing acquaintance with, Oxford.

The front cover, showing a 1930s train (that shade of red was known because of its use at that time as "train red")

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A diagram showing the layout of Belsize Park station that appears in the middle of the book.

HAMPSTEAD

This is the deepest station anywhere on the system, 192 feet below the surface. Just north of here is the deepest point on the network, 221 feet below the surface of Hampstead Heath. This gives the Northern line three records relating to the station’s vertical location – deepest below sea level, deepest below surface and highest above surface. The remaining record, highest above sea level is held by Amersham, 500 feet up in the Chilterns. Access the the surface is gained by lifts, or if you are up for major climb or are seriously claustrophobic by way of 350 stairs.

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A station to have been called either North End or Bull & Bush was excavated at platform level but never built, meaning that the next station we reach is…

GOLDERS GREEN

Given the record held by Hampstead, and the supplementary record held by a sport just north of Hampstead towards this station, you might expect that this station would still be in tunnel, but it is actually at surface level. The principal depot for the Northern line is located at this station.

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BRENT CROSS

 Brent Cross is home to a major shopping centre. For this part of the route the line is elevated above surface level giving rise to the infrequent sight of a viaduct with the London Underground logo on the side.

HENDON CENTRAL

Although this station is correctly shown as having no interchanges, it is only a 13-minute walk from Hendon Thameslink Station. This station is in two fare zones, 3 and 4. This is not very frequent, although the Northern line boasts several examples: South Wimbledon (3 and 4), Clapham South (2 and 3), Elephant & Castle (1 and 2), Archway (2 and 3) and here. Hendon was the birthplace of sporting legend (5,000 test runs for England and FA Cup Winners medal with Arsenal) Denis Compton.

COLINDALE

This station is located near Hendon Aerodrome, which now houses the RAF Museum.

BURNT OAK

The second last station on our journey, and not notable in any way.

EDGWARE

Just beyond this station two tunnel openings can be seen, all that currently remains of plans for an extension to Elstree and Aldenham. Like Uxbridge and Stanmore among other London Underground termini this has bus stands directly outside the station building.

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HISTORY AND MODERN CONNECTIONS IN MAP FORM

These final maps show the whole line, first its history, and then its modern day connections…

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RESOURCES

For mainstream non-specialist books I always direct people to book depository because they do free worldwide delivery. The books that I have mentioned in this post to which this applies are:

100 Walks in Greater London

100 Walks in Greater London – available for £8.99

Murder Underground

Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay – available for £7.64

The Adventures & Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle – available for £2.49

Those books that are of specialist interest can generally be obtained by way of the London Transport Museum. I point to three of these:

 

Bright Underground Spaces

Bright Underground Spaces – available for £25 (this is a superbly illustrated hardback)

Mr Beck`s Underground Map

Mr Beck’s Underground Map – available for £12.95

 

The Spread of London`s Underground

The Spread of London’s Underground – available for £8.95

MAPS

I have only used two maps in this piece. One of those, the modern London Connections Map, which has Southeast England’s railways on its reverse side, is obtainable free of charge at a wide variety of locations (I picked mine up at King’s Lynn bus station). The other, the Diagrammatic History, can be obtained from Stanford’s, the map specialists based in Covent Garden, very close to the London Transport Museum.

 

London Underground Diagrammatic History

London Underground; A Diagrammatic History – £9.95

AFTERWORD

My thanks and congratulations to those of you who have made it all the way through this long and convoluted post. I hope consider ti worthwhile, and will spread the word both about this post and about the website.