Monday, March 30, 2015


Continuing my series on 'Above the Underground' I am now at Paddington, the 12th station on the Bakerloo line when travelling North. There are two separate underground stations here but they are shown as one on the Underground map. Between them they serve four different lines: Bakerloo, District, Circle and the Hammersmith and City. Paddington is also the London terminus for the Great Western Railway.

The tiling in the Underground is illustrated with a variety of drawings for Marc Isambard Brunel's  early tunnelling shield for the Thames Tunnel.

His son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, also an engineer, was responsible for the design and construction of many tunnels, bridges and viaducts for the Great Western Railway including the design of Paddington Rail Station.A statue of him can be found sitting under the clock on Platform 1.

Paddington is also well known for another reason:-

Mr and Mrs Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that is how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear for Paddington was the name of the station. 
From 'A Bear Called Paddington' by Michael Bond. So began Paddington Bear's long association with the station.

Close to the station is St Mary's hospital which houses the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum. It was here that Fleming (1881-1955) discovered penicillin.

Behind the hospital is the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal ending in the Paddington Basin.

The basin is at the centre of a new development which includes the Rolling Bridge.built in 2004

The footbridge consists of eight triangular sections which curl up to form an octagonal shape and allow boats to pass.

Walking beside the canal towards Sheldon Square you will see the Walking Man and the Standing Man(1998 and 2000) by Sean Kelly
Also 'The Family' by Jon Buck (2003)

The area around Paddington Station is busy with lots of hotels, shops, pubs, restaurants.

The wide variety of restaurants seem to cater for all tastes.

Here the Italian restaurant is next to the Indian restaurant which is next to the Greek Taverna and so on.

Padddington also has a few green areas known as squares. Squares are very much part of London's cityscape. Despite the urbanisation of the city, these squares have been around since the 17th C as a way of creating an open space in a residential area. There are over 300 garden squares in the Greater London area. There is however a certain class divide with these squares as some of them such as Norfolk Square are open to the public and maintained by the local council.
Whereas others like Sussex Square are private and for the use of local residents who
pay for their upkeep.

(I did manage to put the camera through the railings so I could take a photo though)

Around the other side of the Sussex Square I spotted this 1960s style house with a blue plaque on the wall (blue plaques provide a link between notable figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked).

Very surprised to see this plaque but noticed it wasn't an English Heritage sign or Local Authority sign so not able to research the authenticity of the claim.

Here is the entrance to one of many Mews that I came across. Mews are converted stable blocks which were common during the 18th and 19th C to cater for the most common form of transport, the horse and carriage. You find Mews in the more expensive parts of London behind the elegant squares and Georgian terraces. A number of these properties have a garage on the ground floor and living accommodation above. Many of these properties have a price tag of millions of pounds sterling.

St James's Church Paddington is not a particularly old church, consecrated in 1882 but it is worth having a look at the stained glass windows.

This is the window at the back of the church which was my favourite window.

Sharing with  Our World Tuesday

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Edgware Road

This is number 11 in my series 'Above the Underground' as Edgware Road station is the 11th station of 25 on the Bakerloo line travelling Northwards. Here is a list of the rest of the stations I have yet to visit.

 However there are two underground stations with the same name so how confusing is that? The other station is a couple of minutes walk away and is for the District, Circle and Hammersmith and City lines. There was some discussion in the London Assemble about renaming one of the stations to stop the confusion but so far no decision has been made.

No escalators at this station but there is a lift that takes you up to the ticket hall  which still has the original tiling and old signage,

When the station opened in June 1907 it was part of a row of shops but it was easy to spot by its red terracotta tiles seen on the frontage of many underground stations. In the 1960s the shops adjoining the station were demolished to make way for the flyover to be built.
The Marylebone Flyover crosses the A5 Edgware Road and links the A40 to the A501. Beneath the flyover is a subway.

In this very dismal pedestrian subway are two stainless steel kiosks, normally used for the sale of newspapers, sweets and cigarettes but these have been converted into a place for exhibiting art known as the Subway Gallery.

Across the road from the tube station is Paddington Green Police station. This is not just an ordinary police station but is the most high security station in the UK. Beneath the 1960s building are high security cells for terrorist suspects which are separate from the other prisoners' cells.

Just a short walk from the station is Church Road Market. A long established market with its mixture of food, clothing and fabric

The one place that all markets should have - public toilets. They look rather smart from the outside but don't be fooled!

The road on which the station stands -Edgware Road runs from Marble Arch to Edgware and partly follows the route of an old Roman Road and therefore runs in an almost straight line for 10 miles which is very unusual in London.

This is London's oldest pawnbrokers. A pawnbroker offers money as a loan for an item of value. The person can repay the loan with added interest to retrieve the item. Sometimes the pawnbroker just buys the item to sell  in his shop. The universal symbol for a pawn shop is the 3 balls hanging from a curved bar. The three balls were part of the Medici family's coat of arms. The Medici family were money lenders in Europe and legend has it that one of them slew a giant with 3 sacks of rocks. The three globes or balls became part of the family crest and eventually the sign of a pawnbroker.

Sutton and Robertson's is London's oldest pawnbrokers and one of the largest in the UK. The two names started out as individual pawnbrokers in the late 1700s until 2006 when the businesses joined together.

Here is an extract from their website:
'Some of the fascinating and exceptional items we have valued and held as pledges over the years include a famous recording artist's first recording contract...a 19th Century Russian side cabinet that belonged to Tsar Nicholas II...artwork by Salvador Dali, David Hockney, and Damien Hirst...a first edition X-Men comic ... rare pink, green, and blue diamonds... and antique Victorian erotic pocket watches among them.
One aristocratic family has pawned and redeemed the same necklace for three generations. Another high-born customer pledged an exquisite Edwardian diamond tiara. In times past, the lords and ladies of Eaton Square pledged their trunkloads of silver for cash needed to impress guests they were hosting for the weekend. Suttons & Robertsons pawnshops were also a frequent stopping point for aristocrats who required quick cash for their jaunts to Monte Carlo.'

Behind the hustle and bustle of the high street, the grime and pollution caused by heavy traffic  there is a quiet refined area with some beautiful buildings and even some London Mews.

These cobbled cul de sacs were once home to London's many stables, in the days when a horse and carriage was the most common form of transport. Nowadays these converted cottages are home to many of the rich and wealthy

A few minutes walk from Edgware Station is Paddington Green. First mentioned in the 1500s as an area of common land where villagers could gather fuel and graze their animals.

Next to the Green is the Church of St Mary built in 1788 to replace a much smaller church on this site

There has been a churchyard on this ground since medieval times. However as the population grew the need for a larger churchyard increased. Due to overcrowding burials ceased here in 1857 and a new burial ground was built  a few miles away in Willesden. Around the edge of the Green you can view many of the old headstones.

The skull and crossbones on a headstone is not that common. Different theories exist about the symbolism but the most commonly held theory is that it is just a reference to our own mortality.