Wednesday, January 18, 2017

North Acton

This is the 40th station I have visited on the Central line and so far the least memorable.

As I exited the station the first thing I saw was an appeal for witnesses notice. Not the most welcoming sign I've encountered.

The station was surrounded by new high rise blocks of flats.

I walked in different directions from the station but other than the apartment blocks I could only find industrial estates.

The most interesting building I came across was the old perfume factory. Opened in 1939 as the Elizabeth Arden factory, it was here that the singer Elvis Costello worked as a computer clerk in the seventies.

It is now being converted into residential units for the  rental market

Even the cemetery didn't seem at peace with these blocks overlooking it.

I then made my way  round the numerous high rise flats back to the station.

Not much more to say about North Acton.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

East Acton

On a foggy morning I ventured out to explore the next station on the Central Line. I am now in unfamiliar territory, having left the bright lights of London far behind so I have no idea what to expect.
The Underground now travels above ground and leaving the train my first impressions were of a small station with this small but attractive platform shelter.

The station was opened in 1920 as part of the Central Line extension to Ealing Broadway. Whereas most stations can be found on a High Street this one is in the middle of  a housing estate.

Turning right out of the station the road takes you on to Oak Common Lane and the centre of East Acton with a number of shops, a church and a large snooker hall.

Although the church doesn't look much from the outside, inside it is a hidden gem with many art treasures.
Above the altar is a painting of the Crucifixion by Graham Sutherland 91963)

Hand made glass by Arthur Buss in the Nave and East windows.

Ceramics in the Baptistry by Adam Kossowski. There are many other art works such as the glass etchings but far too difficult to photograph. It is well worth a visit if you are in the neighbourhood.
St Aidan of Lindisfarne's church was built in 1961 and the parish priest at the time commissioned several works of art for the new church
Returning to the station and going left  brings me to the Wormwood Scrubs nature reserve. The Scrubs consists mainly of grassland with a central copse and wooded boundaries. In 2002 it was designated as a Local Nature Reserve due to the diversity of birds, wildflowers and butterflies.

The fog gave the grassland an uninviting aura. I decided to walk on the road instead. To the left of the scrubland is an industrial estate which I walked round - not sure why as I had to return by the same way.

The fog does nothing to enhance an industrial estate. I decided to go home and return on a clearer day when I would be able to see a little more of the area.

 I returned a few days later when I could see what I had been missing due to the fog.

Walking in the opposite direction to the industrial estate you walk past Wormwood Scrubs Prison. It was built in 1874/5 and is a Category B prison holding up to 1279 adult males. The gateway has been designated as having high architectural quality and is Grade II listed. It is frequently used in films and TV when they need a prison gate location.

It is a very large prison and here you can see one of the high walls surrounding the prison.

Further along the road is the Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital. Founded in 1739 it is one of the oldest maternity hospitals in Europe. In 2000 it moved into this purpose built hospital next to  
Hammersmith hospital.

A pathway beside the new hospital takes you onto the Wormwood Scrubs Nature Reserve, one of the largest open spaces in London. In the 19th cent the open land was used for grazing cattle and pigs. In 1812 part of the Scrubs was leased to HM Forces for 21 years and the area was used for exercising and training troops. 

Areas occupied by the War Office have been gradually released over the years and the space used for public recreation. It now has a number of sports pitches as well as the Lindford Christie  Outdoor Sports Centre.

A haven for dog walkers

I continued my walk back across the Scrubs and returned to East Acton station.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

White City

This is White City, the 38th station as I make my way from East to West on the Central Line. It was opened as part of an extension to the Central Line in 1947 having been delayed for 8 years due to the outbreak of war.
Unusually there are three tracks at this station with the centre track having platforms on each side so it can deal with trains running in either direction. 

A large, light ticket hall.

 Outside the station is a 1930s designed sign

You exit the station onto Wood Lane almost opposite the old BBC Centre. For many people the name  White City would conjure up images of the BBC and also the White City Stadium

(courtesy of Wikipaedia)
Many will recognise this view of the centre which was used prior to a number of broadcasts. The iconic building was opened in June 1960 but sadly closed in 2013. The site was sold to property developers for about £200 million. Financially it made sense for the BBC to move out to a new media centre a short distance away as well as moving some sections to the Media City in Salford and Broadcasting House near Oxford Circus.

Parts of the facade will remain, behind which will be cafes, shops as well as the housing development.

BBC Media Village or BBC White City had six buildings occupying a 17 acre site on Wood Lane. Currently only Broadcast Centre (which is next to the old BBC centre) and the Lighthouse are being used by the BBC.

This building was part of the BBC Media City which is now going to be called White City Place. The BBC buildings were not the first on this site


This was also the site of the 1908 Olympic Games which were supposed to be held in Italy. However the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906 meant that funds needed to be diverted to the rebuilding of Naples and the Games offered to London. White City already had exhibition buildings ready for the Franco British exhibition, at that time a more notable event than the Olympic Games. A stadium was added to the plans which housed the running and cycling tracks, a swimming pool and a pitch for football, hockey, rugby and lacrosse.  It was at these games that the modern marathon distance of 26 miles and 385 yards was first used. The distance was measured from Windsor Castle and White City Stadium.  After the Olympics it continued to be used for athletics until the outbreak of war in 1914. A new track was laid in 1931 and for the next 40 years the stadium was used for athletics events until a new venue at Crystal Palace was 1971. White City Stadium was also used for greyhound racing . The dog racing continued for over 50 years with the last race happening in September 1984. The stadium was demolished in 1985 to make way for the BBC White City building. Today the Olympics are commemorated with a list of medal winners inscribed on the side of the BBC Broadcast Centre.

A short distance from the tube station is the White City bus station housed in Grade II listed Dimco Buildings. Built in 1898-9 these buildings served as the electricity generating station for the Central London Railways which was the forerunner of the Central line, After falling into disrepair they have recently been restored to be used as the overnight garage for the bus station.

Couldn't visit White City without finding the Queens Park Rangers football ground at Loftus Road. I am not a football supporter but whilst exploring the Bakerloo Line I visited Queens Park where this football club was founded.

This five storey housing estate was built in the 1930s and was also given the name White City.  Streets were named after countries that had featured in the exhibitions.

20 huge palaces and 120 exhibition buildings were built for the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908. The exhibition showcased the cultural and industrial achievements of France and Britain. Made of steel and concrete, the ornate buildings were whitewashed which was the source of the name White City.