It wasn't until 1949 that the Circle Line appeared as a separate line for the first time on the Underground map. In 2009 it ceased to be a continuous loop and it was extended from Edgware Road to Hammersmith. Because of the way the Circle line doubles back on itself I have visited and photographed a lot of this area when I looked around Bayswater station.
Having visited 28 stations on the Circle Line I just have another 7 stations to see before I finish this Underground Line.
Royal Oak took its name from a tavern that stood a few hundred metres down the road. The Royal Oak Tavern stood on a lane that connected the present Bayswater Road with Harrow Road. The Tavern, originally sited in a completely rural setting claimed to have been built on the site of a Royal Hunting Lodge associated with King Charles II..
The old tavern disappeared in the 1870s and was replaced with a Victorian building now known as The Porchester.
Although the station didn't open until 1871, the railway line was extended through here to Hammersmith in 1864 which split the area into two. You can also see from this map the main A40 road which links the City of London and the West End to the M40 and M25 motorways. The road was laid out in the 1920s and 30s but has been re-routed and changed a number of times over the decades. In the 1960s an elevated carriageway, known as Westway, was constructed to ease traffic to and from the City of London.
On leaving the station I turned left along Porchester Road crossing the bridge over the railway lines. Just after the bridge was a small mews. (A mews refers to stabling built around a yard close to large city houses). During WW2 a bomb fell directly onto the mews and the properties were all rebuilt after the war. It was a dairy then until 1985 when it was converted into residential units.
On the other side of the road is a large Baptist church and family centre. It is a new construction with a new church, children's library and some offices. Above that are a number of residential flats.
Near the Baptist church is another centre of worship, the West London Buddhist Centre
Continuing along the road you come to the Porchester centre with its hall, library, Turkish baths and spa. The building is Grade II listed and is an unusual mixture of public rooms available for hire as well as a fitness centre. The Porchester Centre dates from 1925 when the baths were opened. Porchester Hall and the library were added in 1929 and 1930. The centre is owned by Westminster Council. Unusually it has a traditional Turkish baths.with three rooms: warm, hot and hottest as well as steam rooms, sauna and a cold plunge bath. Turkish baths were introduced into the UK in the middle of the 19th century. At a time when the majority of people did not have access to bathing facilities in their own home, public bathhouses were opening up around the country and people were encouraged to bath regularly and an emphasis was put of the importance of the cleanliness. Turkish baths were also being opened in their hundreds and became very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Not many have survived so it is rare to see one that has been so well preserved and still in use.
Around the corner is the entrance to the swimming pools.
Completed between 1855 and 1858, Porchester Square was one of the last areas of Bayswater to be built. The Victorian houses surrounding the square were built by different builders and although similar their exterior details vary on the houses. The name Porchester comes from one of the Hampshire estates of the Thistlethwaites who with only two or three other families had been the chief lessees of the Bishop of London's land in Paddington since before 1750.
The church was completed in 1878 by the Victorian architect George Edmund Street and is considered to be one of his best churches. When the church was built it was surrounded by a mass of densely populated but affordable housing for the impoverished workers. The increase in population was the main reason for building the church here and during the late 19th century was attracting up to 400 worshippers to the Sunday service.
The church survived the bombing of WW2 but by the middle of the 20th century the houses surrounding the church were declared unfit for purpose and demolished as part of the slum clearance programme. It left the church standing isolated with a new estate growing up around it.
The new blocks of flats went up quickly as soon as the rubble had been cleared from the old houses. People from the slums were being rehoused into the new flats as quickly as possible or were moved to new developments outside London. The proposals affected 6700 local residents and included the creation of 1127 new dwellings, the majority of which would be located within new blocks. The church was left standing isolated on the edge of Westbourne Green open space and the high rise flats of the Warwick Estate. In more recent times the church has been on English Heritage's 'Heritage at Risk Register' since 2005. The St Mary Magdalene's Project is trying to address the problems of a dwindling congregation by adding a new Heritage and Learning centre and introducing programmes that attract and serve all members of the community.
The scheme also included the creation of a riverside walk and some much needed green space.
I hadn't realised I was so close to the Grand Union Canal. Walking right would take me to Little Venice and the Paddington Basin (already explored). I turned left to walk alongside the canal for a couple of hundred metres.
The Grand Union Canal has several branches, known as 'arms'. Its main line connects London and Birmingham stretching for 137 miles with 166 locks along its route. At the London end the Grand Union connects into the River Thames at Brentford in West London. Work started on the canal in 1773 and was completed in 1805. The canal provided a key means of transport for bringing goods into London such as minerals, building materials, timber and foodstuff.
Nestled between Westway and the Grand Union canal is the Great Western Studios. Made up of 104 studios which are placed around a central atrium which serves a s a communal space. The building also has a gallery which houses exhibitions by renowned artists.
The Westminster Academy is one of the newest buildings in the area. Completed in 2007, it won the RIBA award for architecture in 2008. A colourful building with glass panels and bands of terracotta tiles, it stands out amongst the grey tower blocks.
On my way back I had a closer view of one of the blocks of flats. From a distance I thought they had some kind of pattern on the side of them but then realised it is the removal of external cladding that has left the marks. In June 2017 fire broke out in the 24 storey Grenfell Tower. Outside cladding enabled the fire to spread quickly throughout the building. 72 died, another 70 were injured and 223 people managed to escape.