Saturday, December 3, 2016

Shepherd's Bush

Continuing with my'Above the Underground' tour of the Central Line I have now moved out of the upmarket London borough of Kensington and Chelsea and into the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. In the early 70s I started my life as a teacher in Hammersmith which is just down the road from Shepherd's Bush so I thought  I would be familiar with some of the area but it has changed beyond recognition.

The station originally opened in 1900 and has been renovated over the years. This was
Shepherd's Bush tube station in 1935

This photo was taken in 1949 but if I'm not mistaken this is how I remembered Shepherd's Bush station.

This is how it looks today. In 2008 it was closed for eight months whilst the surface station was completely rebuilt and the underground station refurbished.

The ticket hall is now much more spacious allowing for the increase in passenger numbers. The rebuild was mainly funded by the giant Westfield corporation ( originally founded in Australia) as it built a large shopping mall next to the station.

Shepherd's Bush was  part of the original Central London railway. The station was the western terminus of the CLR line which at that time ran to Bank.
This old map shows how Shepherd's Bush was the end of the line with the depot and generating station next to it.  It became a through station in 1908 when the line was extended via a loop to Wood Lane. This was to serve visitors to the Franco-British exhibition site  and the 1908 Olympic Games.

Until 1907 the Central Line was known as the 'Tuppenny Tube' as it had a flat fare of two old pence.

There are four other Underground stations in close proximity: - Wood Lane (Circle Line and Hammersmith and City Line) White City (Central line ) Shepherd's Bush market (Circle Line) and Goldshawk Road (Circle Line). So basically the locality around the station won't take long to explore today.

As you see from the map, just outside the station is the large Holland Park roundabout and the main A3220 known as the West Cross route After the war, the construction of new roads cut Shepherd's Bush off from Holland Park demolishing some of its most elegant housing. As you can imagine, it was not a popular decision.

A few minutes walk from the station and you are on  Shepherd's Bush Green which possibly gives rise to the area's name as Shepherds would rest their flocks here on Common land before taking them to the markets in the City.

There were three theatres built side by side facing Shepherd's Bush Green: Shepherd's Bush Empire, Pykes Cinematograph theatre and the Pavilion. The Empire opened in 1903  with a capacity of 2,300 and staged music hall and variety shows. In 1953 the theatre was bought by the BBC and was converted into a TV studio theatre. Many shows were broadcast from here including, What's my Line?, the Billy Cotton Band Show, This is your life, Crackerjack, Juke Box Jury and many other major shows. The last show was broadcast from here in 1991. In 1995 the theatre was converted into a music venue which is what it still is today,

Next door to the Empire was Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre. The cinema opened in 1910 seating 760 people. In 1968 it was closed and modernised but in 1981 it closed its doors as a cinema for good.
It remained so until it was converted into a pub for the Australian Walkabout chain of pubs in the mid 1990s. Many Australians live in this area and it became a lively meeting place. However in 1913 it was sold to a development company for an undisclosed sum of money.  The interesting part of this building is the original signage on the side of the building.

Next to the old Walkabout is another old theatre, The Shepherd's Bush Pavilion. It was built as a cinema with stage facilities in 1923. It was severely damaged in the war and didn't reopen until 1955 when it became the Gaumont Cinema. The cinema closed in 1981 and then the building was just used for Bingo downstairs until that closed in 2001. It remained empty for almost ten years before work started on converting the theatre into a luxury hotel which opened in 2014. They have retained part of the facade which won an architectural award in 1924.

On Shepherd's Bush Road is this elegant block of flats known as The Grampians.

On either side of the building are these art deco shops.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Holland Park

This is the 36th station I have visited on the Central Line. Holland Park was opened in 1900 and was recently closed so that the 30 yr old lifts could be replaced. There are no escalators here so if you don't like lifts then it's a walk up 110 steps.

Some of the signage from the 1950s still remains alongside the more familiar Underground signs.

 The original green tiles are still in place in the ticket hall.
 The station was built as a single storey building with the idea that commercial buildings would be built above the station but that never happened.

On leaving the station I turned right past The Castle pub, established in 1827 and still going strong today.

 A little further on you pass a number of small independent shops and cafes including Lidgate's butchers. It has been here for 150 years and is run by the fifth generation of Lidgates. It is well known for its quality meats sourced from free range and organic farms and estates.
I turned off Holland Park Ave on to one of the many roads that are part of the Norland Estate which was built from 1839 onwards. A census is taken every ten years in the UK and tells us quite a lot about life at that time. The census of 1851 tells us that none of these Italianate stucco houses were sub divided and that one third of the population here were domestic servants. The householders were made up of doctors, lawyers, diplomats, merchants and stockbrokers. There were six schools in the tall houses of Norland Square and Royal Crescent. Nowadays those professions are joined by celebrities such as the Beckhams

Royal Crescent was laid out in 1846 using a similar format to the Royal Crescent in Bath and Regent's Park Crescent.

Holland Park Mews

On the corner of Norland Square is an Edward VII pillar box. About 6% of UK boxes have the ER VII cypher. He reigned from 1901-10

These boxes were the first to introduce the crown above the monarch's cypher. This has continued to the present day.
A short walk from Norland Square brings you to Addison Ave and the area around St James's Church. Take away the cars and road signs and you feel as though you have gone back in time. The old street  lamp posts once lit by gas have not been replaced but I assume have been converted to electricity.

St James's Church was built between 1844 and 1855. The developer Charles Richardson gifted the land for the church to the Church Commissioners thinking that the houses he had built would be more saleable if the residents had access to their own adjacent church.

He also set up these woodland style gardens, surrounding the church, for the benefit of the residents who were, and still are, required to maintain them.

Opposite the gardens is the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. Founded in the early 1900s by West London's Sephardi immigrant community, it is one of the oldest synagogues in London.

Leaving St James's Gardens I turned left onto St Anne's Road  where the old meets the new.

Turning right onto Queensdale Road I found another place of worship, a Gurdwara. This Sikh Temple, Khalsa Jatha, is the Central Gurdwara for London and was the first to be founded in the UK. It was formed in 1908 but did not move into these premises until 1969. The domes were added in the early 1990s.

I walked back to Holland Park Ave via Norland Road. This area was pedestrianised in 1883 and is a popular walk through.

Looking back towards the Gurdwara.

I am now on the other side of Holland Park Ave on my way to Holland Park. This is Abbotsbury Road, full of large mansions. I had to walk back to this one as I noticed a couple of sculptures on the portico over the door.

Could these really be Anthony Gormley figures? As this is a private house I couldn't find any information about them on the internet but I have seen enough Gormley figures to be almost certain these are  genuine.

On the other side of the road is Debenham House. Built in 1905 for the department store owner Ernest Debenham. The exterior is clad in Royal Doulton Carrera marble and the inset panels are made from blue and green Burmantoft bricks. The colour makes it stand out on the road. The building is currently surrounded by hoardings but as this is a Grade 1 listed building there won't be any major changes.

I continued walking until I came to to the entrance to Holland Park, a gem of a park in West London. It is spread over 55 acres of what used to be the grounds of Cope Castle, a large Jacobean Mansion hidden in the woods. It was built by Sir Walter Cope in 1605

It was renamed Holland House after the Earl of Holland's wife inherited the property.

The House  was badly damaged during the Second World War and only one wing remained which until recently was used as a youth hostel. Another section is the backdrop for operas in the park.

The park is divided into three distinct areas, woodland with wildlife in the North, the Grade 1 listed remains of Holland House and formal gardens in the centre.

The once summer ballroom of Holland House is now a very upmarket restaurant, the Belvedere. Apparently opulent and beautiful inside but very expensive.

The Kyoto garden was built to celebrate the Japan festival in London in 1992.

It was pouring with rain as I walked through the park, even the peacock was sheltering. Definitely time to go home.