Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Stratford is the first station on the Central Line if you are travelling westwards that connects to another underground line - the Jubilee line.

At Stratford you can enter or exit the tube train from either side which is very unusual. It was a dull day when I visited Stratford so apologies for the quality of the photos.

The station is a huge transport hub with 6 different rail lines as well as a large bus station. It was here that hundreds of thousands of people arrived to access the London Olympics. Consequently the area has undergone a large regeneration programme over the last ten years. The run down shops, derelict buildings and chemical wasteland that existed in the Lea Valley have all gone to make way for shopping centres, apartment blocks and a very clean river running through a variety of thriving habitats.

Robert is a 38 tonne saddle tank steam engine which now  stands outside Stratford Station. Built in 1933 for use at the Ironstone mines railway in Northamptonshire. After a chequered life it was cleaned and repainted and placed outside Stratford station.

As well as the rail and underground there is a large bus station with what looks like umbrellas that have blown inside out. I then read that when it rains the water drains away down the middle of the supporting pillars.


From the station I ignored the new shopping mall and walked across the road to the older shopping centre. Above the centre is a sculpture called 'The Shoal'. It is made up 120 titanium clad 'leaves' that move in the wind.

I walked through the older shopping centre to see it wasn't just shops but it also had market stalls, very much part of the East End community.
Walking through the market I came out into the cultural part of Stratford with its entertainment centre.

The Theatre Royal opened in 1884 and was refurbished in 2001. It is now a Grade II listed building. The Theatre excels in developing young talent.

 A statue in front of the theatre is a memorial to Joan Littlewood, an actress,  who ran theatre workshops in the 1950s to provide a stage for the working class people of the area to voice their stories.

This is the four - screen Stratford Picturehouse. When I go to the cinema I go to a Picturehouseas they  have very comfortable seats and more importantly special prices for seniors.

Next to the Theatre Royal is the Stratford Circus, a performing arts venue.

The centre produces a programme of Cabaret, Circus, Comedy, Dance, Music and Children's theatre. It also runs workshops, education and training opportunities for the local community .

On the corner is the University Square Stratford part of  the University of East London

The church of St Francis of Assisi run by the Franciscans (1868). You can see a statue of St Francis at the top of the building. However there is no entrance to the church here you have to walk around the corner to find the main entrance.  

I had a look inside the church and saw this delightful wrought iron spiral staircase leading up to the bell tower I assume.

This building has been standing here for over 100 years. In 1910 it was a very early cinema. You can still see the old ticket office standing out in the centre. It then became a Billiard Hall. Nowadays it is a Health centre.

The Cart and Horses pub and hotel where the Iron Maiden heavy metal band played some of their early gigs.

This is another station not too far from the Underground station. Maryland is part of tfl rail going from Liverpool Street to Shenfield in Essex. I believe it will be one of the stations on the new Crossrail which should be in service in 2019.

St John's church is in the centre of old part of Stratford.
In the churchyard is this monument to thirteen Protestant martyrs, eleven men and two women who were burnt at the stake in 1556. They were found guilty of heresy. It is said a crowd of 20,000 came to watch the executions.

Across the road from the church is this Grade 11 listed pub dating from the early 18th cent. It started out as the King of Prussia but patriotically changed its name in 1914 to King Edward VII. Affectionately known as King Eddies it is a popular place with the locals.

'Railway Tree' stands at the junction of the Broadway and Great Eastern Road. The steel girders are shaped like railway lines as a reminder of Stratford's connection with railways. The first train station opened here in 1839 as well as engineering workshops for the Eastern Counties Railway. The sculpture was created by Malcolm Robertson. He also created another sculpture in Stratford called 'The Time Spiral'.

This was the original Borough Theatre and Opera House erected in 1895. It was one of the largest theatres in London and could hold 3000 people. It was converted into a cinema in 1933 and then became a bingo hall in 1969.

I am returning to the Underground station via Stratford High Street and the Olympic Park. I am sure if I had a photo from 15 years ago and compared the two, I doubt many of these buildings would have been there.

As I walked towards the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park my eye was attracted to a very long mural. Up close you can see that it is made of ceramic tiles. Created by the British artist Clare Woods, it is made from 88,000 ceramic tiles. The photo shows one small section of the mosaic.

This is the Aquatics centre designed by the female architect Zaha Hadid. It is a beautiful building with its curved roof and glass frontage. I was greatly saddened to learn of her death this week (02/04/16). At 65 there was still much she wanted to achieve.

Looking across  the River Lea from the Aquatics centre you can see the tallest sculpture in the UK the ArcelorMittal Orbit by Anish Kapoor.,  It always looked like a helter skelter and now I understand they have added a spiral slide so you can experience the sculpture as a fairground ride.

On my way back to the Underground I crossed the bridge over the railway. Just looking at the station from this view I took a moment to think about how the environment has  changed since I started out on this journey from Epping, a village in the middle of the Essex countryside to this very urban town.
The statistics show that 59 million people used this station during 2014, almost five times the number of the previous station.


  1. That is a huge hub station -- I'm afraid I might be almost paralyzed with indecision if I were alone there -- not knowing where to go, what to do first. I am so glad you weren't (and never are). As always a fascinating tour and I'm also very glad you went first to the old section. (But I did also love the view of the new -- aquatic facility especially.)

  2. Thanks for another interesting virtual tour.

  3. Hello, what a great post. This seems to be a busy Underground station with much to see. I like the market, tank engine and the cool sculptures. Thanks for the wonderful tour! Have a happy day!

  4. A great tour of one of my local stations. I was there today but it was much busier than in your photos. The area has definitely changed since London was awarded the 2012 Olympic bid, mostly for the better.

  5. I like The Shoal and The Time Spiral. I think I remember asking you about the weird Orbit sculpture. It is good to hear your positive thoughts about the area when it could have been a disaster.

  6. I like The Shoal and The Time Spiral. I think I remember asking you about the weird Orbit sculpture. It is good to hear your positive thoughts about the area when it could have been a disaster.

  7. There are some very interesting things to see ! I like this sculpture'The Shoal'. Looks very original. And of course the Pub, lol !
    I see you are back too !

  8. So much to see at this one. I love all the sculpture and art and especially the roof on the bus station. I'm intrigued by the leaf sculptures that move in the wind.
    Can't wait to hear about your trips toNaples. I figured you were off somewhere traveling.

  9. The environment sure has changed from almost country villages to the city. The Olympics did the place a service by modernising much of it. It is good to see that there are still many historic buildings with interesting histories. You have done a lot of research here. The station is a beauty.

  10. Very interesting tour! It makes great sense to be able to join the train from both sides-- not only less congestion at the doors but it also saves walking the extra distance.

  11. I enjoyed taking this tour with you; love all of the old structures, especially the Theatre Royal. Gorgeous!

  12. Wow! This is a big station and the thought of 59 million people using it is astonishing! There is so much to see at this location. I liked the beautiful church and 100 year old building and that sculpture/ride--that was amnazing

  13. Thoroughly enjoyed walking through Stratford again. My uncle was a firefighter at Stratford Fire Station and I have given him this link so he can see his old stomping ground. It's changed beyond recognition! Thanks so much for this xx


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