Friday, July 28, 2017

Ruislip Gardens

The tracks through the station were laid in 1906, 30 years before there was a station here. They were laid for the railway and not for the Underground. Central line services didn't start from here until November 1948 having been delayed due to the war.

I am now at the 48th station out of 49 stations on this line.
Station entrance on West End Road

As you can see from the map of the area the station is very close to RAF Northolt.
The airfield which opened in 1915 is older than the RAF as the Royal Air Force did not come into existence until 1st April 1918.

This is the main entrance to the base. I think that is a spitfire on display but not sure.

Seeing the open gates at the other entrance I thought I would wander in and take a few photos. However a notice telling me that non pass holders would be arrested stopped me walking any further. All other photos were taken from the road through the fence!

The airfield first became operational in June 1915 when BE2c aircraft flew defensive patrols against Zeppelin raids. The BE2 was a single engine, two seater bi-plane which was flown by the Royal Flying Corps from 1912 until the end of WW1. The Officers' Mess built around 1920 is still in use as is one of the hangars. RAF Northolt was the first airbase to operate the Hurricane and during the Battle of Britain in WW2 it was home to a number of allied and British Hurricane and Spitfire squadrons, including a complete Polish Wing.

The British Forces Post Office moved to the airbase in 2008 as part of a reorganisation of services which involved the closure of RAF Bentley priory and RAF Uxbridge. By 2010 the RAF Central Band, the Queen's Colour squadron and various other units moved into new or refurbished facilities at Northolt. In more recent times RAF Northolt played a leading role in ensuring the safety of London during the 2012 Olympic Games. It was the base for Typhoon fast jets  which formed part of the security plan for the Games.

I walked back towards South Ruislip station. Almost opposite the station is the boundary of the Ministry of Defence ground which surrounds RAF Northolt. Running alongside is Yeading Brook which emerges from under the road across from the station.

The Brook is a 16 mile tributary of the River Crane, a tributary of the River Thames.

It was an unexpected delightful walk  taking me through woodland and into a meadow but I turned back after a mile as I was wandering too far away from South Ruislip station.

I returned to West End Lane through a housing estate bringing me out near the bridge which takes the Tube trains to their final destination.
Just beyond the Bridge is the Bell Inn,built in the 1930s,it  then became a small hotel in 2015 with just 5 rooms to let. It was due to be demolished when HS2 was coming through but that's now going to be tunneled under Ruislip. The HS2 is a new high speed rail link from London to Birmingham and then on to Manchester and Leeds. There has been a lot of controversy about the exact route of the line and its effect on those living near it.

On either side of the road are shops with the majority being takeaway food outlets.

My next stop is the terminus for the Central Line

Sunday, July 23, 2017

South Ruislip

From Northolt the train travelled alongside green fields. Easy to see how this was once all fields and farms.
The station was opened in 1908 and was originally known as Northolt Junction. It then became South Ruislip and Northolt Junction(quite a mouthful) in 1932 and finally received its present name in June 1947 just 18 months before becoming part of the Central Line extension. This is the island platform for the Central Line. There are two other platforms serving this station which are for the National Rail trains  running between Marylebone, London and Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

I am almost at the end of the line. Just two more stations to visit after this one.

The subway leading to the exit or the National Rail platforms.

The rounded booking Hall was not completed until 1960 complete with this concrete, glass and granite frieze by Henry Haig, more well known for his stained glass work.

The bridge which carries the line above the road at Station Approach is lower than other local bridges at 11 feet and 9 inches (3.58m) and is often hit by high vehicles. The bridge is strengthened at either side to lessen the damage caused by drivers who don't know the height of the vehicle they are driving!

Walking within the vicinity of the station I only came across residential streets, interspersed with small parades of shops.

Walking a little further from the station I found the headquarters of the  GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) in London.

The ground has only recently been reopened (May 2017) after the completion of this new stand. I have never watched a game of Gaelic football but I am aware it is very different to  English football.You can just about see the goal post on this photo. To me it looks like a football goal below rugby goalposts.
It is played between two teams of 15 players on a rectangular grass pitch. The objective of the sport is to score by kicking or punching the ball into the other team's goals (3 points) or between two upright posts above the goals and over a crossbar 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) above the ground (1 point). (Wikipaedia definition.)

I walked to the roundabout at the end of West End Lane to find the Polish War Memorial.

The names of 1,243 Polish airmen who died during the war were inscribed on the wall behind the monument and a further 659 names were added between 1994 and 1996 when the memorial was refurbished.
The stone and granite memorial was designed by Mieczyslaw Lubelski who had been interned in a Nazi concentration camp during the war. The bronze eagle is the symbol of the Polish Air Force.
In September 2015 a new remembrance garden opened to mark 75 years since The Battle of Britain. he memorial and garden were sited here because of their close proximity to RAF Northolt where the Polish Air Force was based. However, sitting in the garden it is anything but peaceful with lorries and cars continuously thundering past.

 I left the busy roads and walked back towards the station through the side roads.

 Walked under another low bridge and past a recreation ground.

The area seems to be expanding looking at the size of this new development. It is on the site of what was once a dairy and when fully completed will include an 11 screen cinema, a couple of large foodstores and restaurants.

An artist's view of the new development.

A 1930s pub just the other side of the station. Used to be known as the Deane Arms but had a poor reputation so the owners changed the  name of the pub in the hope the clientele would also change. Whether it did or not I'm not sure but it does get good reviews nowadays.

Next to the pub is the Ramada Hotel. As it is just a couple of minutes walk from the tube station I am sure it is a popular hotel for tourists as well as business people requiring easy access to Central London.

A walk under the low bridge and I am back at South Ruislip station.

Monday, July 10, 2017


This is the 46th station on the Central line that I have visited. The Underground station was opened here in 1948 when the Central line was extended.

The station consists of an island platform with the lines running on either side.

A recent addition to the platform is this shelter. No doubt very welcome in the wet weather.

Leaving the station I was surprised by the volume of traffic on the road outside. I had heard of Northolt village so had imagined a much quieter environment.

Almost next to the station is a leisure centre complex comprising of a gym, swimming pool, library, cafe and police station. Always useful places for a visitor when in need of toilet facilities.

I crossed the busy A312 and within five minutes I had found the village green with its well maintained grass and flower beds.
This section of the green is Mandeville Green.  The old village green is just a little further down the road. Mandeville Road was built in the 1930s to link Northolt village to the new Western Avenue. Where it joined the old Ealing Road a triangular space was created which became the Mandeville Green.
Dominating the green is the Clock Tower. Erected in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI.

It has a splendid copper weather vane on top of the clock tower but I couldn't find out why it was in the shape of a ship.

Walking on you arrive at the older part of the village green. A small stream meanders through the green which looks very picturesque until you get a bit closer and notice the litter that has just been casually thrown into it! Overlooking this part of the green is a group of older cottages.

 In the older part of the village is The Crown public house. There has been a drinking establishment on this site since the early 18th cent. The original building and stables were extended and modified during the Victorian and Edwardian periods.

Next to the pub is this K6 telephone box. Eight kiosk types were introduced by the GPO (General Post Office) between 1926 and 1983. The K6 was designed by Sir Giles Scott to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935. Some 60,000 were installed around Britain which is why this design has come to represent the red telephone box. Despite the decline in need for public telephone boxes  over 11,000 K6s still remain.

The centre of the old village is overlooked by the parish church. Northolt Village Green was designated a Conservation area in 1969.

St Mary's church and the Memorial Hall is reached from the green up a lime tree-lined path.

A church has been on this site since 1140. The present church is mainly from the fourteenth century but has remnants from the thirteenth century.

The door was firmly locked so I had to be content with admiring the outside of the church.

Surrounding the church is the graveyard with its assortment of aging gravestones. A pathway through the graveyard takes you out onto open parkland.

I followed the path through the countryside park to the back of the church and it led me to the site of an old moated manor house.

 There is nothing left of the manor house but its history. The manor of Northolt was given by William the Conqueror to Geoffrey de Mandeville after the conquest in 1066. A stone Manor house was built here in 1231. A moat was also dug and this survived as a feature long after the buildings had been pulled down. The land was purchased by Ealing Borough Council in 1928 from a developer who wanted to build over the moated site. Instead the council turned the land into a park. The site was excavated between 1950 and 1970 and the finds removed to a local museum.

There are markers laid out to show the plan of the medieval manor.

Next to the church is the Memorial Hall. There have been many buildings on this site including a half timbered building used as a poor house until the 1830s. It was replaced by a schoolhouse in 1840 and then rebuilt in 1868. The building became inadequate as a school and in 1907 a new Northolt primary school was built in West End Lane. Since 1927 the building has been used as the Memorial Hall, run by the Village Green Trust.

Walking back from the Church and the Hall I passed the Northolt Village rest garden

Beyond the garden you can see the Crown Public House. Looking in the opposite direction you see the Willow Cottages.

There used to be three cottages here but these two have been left as a reminder of the spartan living conditions of the agricultural labourers from the early 1800s, They were occupied until 1930. The cottages became run down and condemned for their lack of sanitary facilities but have been preserved as part of the rest garden. Eventually they will become an interpretation centre with displays relating to the local manor house site and other places of interest. The door was open so I had a peep inside. Currently they appear to be used to store the gardeners' tools.

The garden is well tended with a number of seats to enjoy the scents and sights of the flower beds. After a short rest I walked back into the village.

This is the Northolt Village Community Centre complete with its model railway track running through the grounds.

There was one more place I had heard about and wanted to visit and that was the Northala fields. Four large mounds, rising from the countryside park like ancient burial grounds can be seen at the other side of Western Avenue.
I crossed the very busy A40 (Western Avenue) to have a closer look at the mounds.
The four conical mounds were created from rubble from the original Wembley Stadium when it was demolished.They were built to help reduce visual and noise pollution from the A40.
The tallest mound has a spiral path leading to the top.
From here you have a panoramic view of the area as well as the tall iconic buildings of central London. Unfortunately there was also a lot of rubbish on the wall despite there being litter bins!!!!

Behind the mounds are six fishing lakes as well as a large children's playground and other facilities.

Bridges and subways took me back along the High Street to the station and home.

The modern side of the village

It was an interesting visit to Northolt to see the old and the newer parts of the village. The local council and Residents Association  seem to be doing an excellent job of maintaining the green areas and preserving what is left of the old village. It is a great pity that some sections of the community do not have the same respect for their area and are content to leave litter everywhere.