Saturday, August 26, 2017

Edgware Road

Route of the Circle Line since 2009 (Wikipaedia)

I have decided that this is where I will begin my exploration of the Circle Line for my series on 'Above the Underground'. The Circle Line is 17 miles (27 kms) long and has 36 stations of which I have already visited five as they share stations with the Bakerloo and Central lines. The line used to run in a continuous circle but in December 2009 it was extended to include the Hammersmith and City route from Edgware Road to Hammersmith. 

The circle Line is the yellow line on the tube map and as you can see from this map it runs in a spiralling shape from Hammersmith to Edgware Road and then in a circle around Central London before returning to Edgware Road.

Strangely there are two separate stations called Edgware Road. This one which serves the Circle, District and Hammersmith and City Lines and the other one just a short distance away for the Bakerloo Line. It is confusing and there has been much talk about changing the name of one of them but no decision has yet been made.

As I have already explored Edgware Road whilst doing the Bakerloo line I just looked around the streets very close to this station.

I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at the station to see this bright and airy ticket hall, decorated with plants and flowers donated by regular passengers.

 Edgware Road station was the site of one of the 7th July 2005 London Bombings. A bomb was detonated at 8.50 am onboard a westbound Circle Line train as it was leaving the station killing six passengers.

This station was part of the world's first underground railway when it was opened as part of the Metropolitan Railway between Paddington and Farringdon in Jan 1863. You can still see the words Metropolitan Railway running along the top of the building.

The sculpture of  'The Window cleaner' by Allan Sly  seems a strange choice when you look at it with the station as a backdrop but from the other angle with the huge glass frontage of Capital House then it brings a smile to your face.

'Wrapper' surrounds the Transport for London substation next door. It is made from vitreous enamel and covers 1500 sq metres. Each pattern relates to a different part ofthe local area such as the leaves a reminder of the trees in nearby Regent's Park. The colours reflect those of  the Tube Map. 
Created by Jacqueline Pncelet in 2012 'Wrapper can be seen not only from the surrounding streets but also the station platforms.

The station is overlooked by the imposing red bricked Hyde Park Mansions. These 19th cent buildings do not provide accommodation for the ordinary man in the street but for the elite. Prices start in the millions for one of the apartments here. Of course you could always rent one for £3000+ per month

This tiled sign on the side of one of the buildings on Chapel Street shows the Coat of Arms for the old St Marylebone Borough Council. After 65 years it was abolished as a Metropolitan borough of London and amalgamated with the Metropolitan boroughs of Paddington and Westminster to form a new borough known simply as the City of Westminster.

Around the corner on Harcourt Street I noticed a Swedish flag flying. Having just returned from Sweden I had to investigate. It was flying outside the Swedish church.  The church has been here over 100 years and is well known locally for its excellent Christmas fair selling traditional Swedish crafts and food.

On the same road there are converted mews and upmarket shops and cafes yet I am just a short distance from the horrendously busy and grubby looking Edgware Road.

I continued walking onto Seymour Place and came across this Grade II listed building which is now the Seymour Leisure centre. It was built in 1935-7 as public baths and laundry, providing clothes washing and bathing facilities for local residents who would not have access to those kind of facilities at home. Nowadays the centre advertises a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, multipurpose studios, gym and sports hall.
I like the art deco doors set into the three arched stone doorways

Lots of flower baskets and plants adorned the outside of the many shops here.

Another little gem awaited me as I turned the corner into  Bryanston Square with these delightful houses.

In the centre of the Square is St Mary's. This was built as one of the Commissioners' churches in 1823-4. A Commissioners' church is one built with money provided by Parliament and allocated by Commissioners. After the Industrial Revolution the Church of England faced problems with the increase in population  in urban areas as they did not have enough churches to cope. The Church Building Commission was set up in 1818 and was given a grant of money from Parliament to pay for the building of churches as well as having the power to divide up parishes. 

This is Edwina Mountbatten House, on York Street, the headquarters of St John Ambulance. It is a non government organisation, led by volunteers to promote the teaching and practice of first aid. You will always see members of the St John Ambulance at the majority of sporting and public events. Treatment is free although the organisers of the event will probably have paid for the service to be present. It isn't just a service of volunteer first aiders as they can also provide paramedics, nurses and doctors. Each year it trains approximately 400,000 people in life saving skills.

Returning to the station I walked down Enford Street back onto Marylebone Road. You can still see the previous name of this street below its current name. It was changed between 1936 and 39, probably because there were a number of streets with that name in the same area. With the introduction of the postage stamp in 1840, the postal service needed a clearer system of numbered housing and fewer streets with the same name. The street renaming scheme started in 1855 and continued up to WW2 

His Grace desires to point out that a reform of the street nomenclature of London, by doing away with the multiplication of the same names for streets, now carried to a perplexing extent, especially if accompanied by a more accurate numbering of houses, would be of great importance to the Post Office service, and consequently to the public interests and convenience, in promoting the expeditious and correct sorting and distribution of the correspondence.
Excerpt of a letter from Sir Rowland Hill on behalf of the General Post Office in 1837

This building on the Marylebone Road, 'The Church Army', provides long and short term beds for homeless women. It also offers education, training and employment opportunities.

Also on Marylebone Road is Westminster Magistrates Court. The senior district judge of England and Wales sits at this court and all the extradition and terrorist related cases pass through this court.

The circle line is not a deep level underground line but runs just below the surface as you can see when you cross the bridge  to change platforms at the station.

This is the inside of one of the Circle Line tubes. Unlike many of the trains on the other tube lines it is not split into carriages.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

West Ruislip

It has taken exactly two years for me to visit, photograph and write about all the 49 stations on the Central Line. The Line covers 46 miles and has the longest continuous journey on the Underground from Epping to West Ruislip at 34.1 miles. I estimate that I walk on average  5 miles per station. In Central London it would be less as there is so much to see in close proximity to the station. However, once away from the centre I do walk much further to find places of interest or, as in some places, I get carried away by the surroundings and end up doing a much longer walk than I anticipated. For instance walking back along the canal from Greenford into Central London, a distance of about 9 miles. The weather was so perfect for a canal walk that I couldn't resist. My legs did object to that the following day!

The station used to be called Ruislip and Ickenham when it first opened in 1906. At that time it was part of the Great Western and Great Central Joint Railway. When the extension to the Central line opened in 1948 the station was known as West Ruislip. The station has four platforms, two for the Underground and two for mainline services to London Marylebone and Gerrards Cross. A parliamentary train used to run once a day from Paddington to West Ruislip but it now passes through the station without stopping. These trains, often referred to as 'ghost trains' were a legal requirement to keep a station open. Legislation used to require that one service be run once a day on every railway route in the UK. These trains are still run to prevent the cost of formal closure of a route or station.

The last station on the line is not a spectacular one but at least, outside,  the frontage has been improved by the flower displays on the Central road barriers.

Built in 1828 it was originally a cottage and blacksmiths but was converted into a pub in 1850. The name 'The Soldiers Return' came from the days when soldiers would return to the nearby RAF base at Uxbridge to convalesce after active service.

Just passed the pub was a sign for the Hillingdon Trail which I had to follow, of course. The Borough of Hillingdon is London's second largest Borough and has more than 200 parks and green spaces. The trail is a 20 mile path taking you through Hillingdon's countryside. 
It looked a delightful walk passing through woods, meadows and fields but unfortunately I didn't have the time to explore it. I followed it as far as Ickenham Cricket club and back out onto the road. 
This is a very leafy suburb of London and from the housing appears more up market than the previous couple of stations.

There is a mixture of new and old but the common feature is the greenery and well established trees.

The station is not that far from Ickenham High Street so I decided to walk a little further to have a look. At almost 100 years old the village hall  has had many uses. From a  a temporary village school to a restaurant during WW2. It has also been used as a bank and a polling station.

In prime position is this water pump. Originally constructed in 1865, it was in use until 1914. The inscription reads 'This well was sunk and the pump erected by the executors of the late Charlotte Gell, widow, who died on the 14th November 1863. After a long residence in this parish Mrs Gell by her will, desired that this pump should be dedicated to the use of the inhabitants of this village forever.'

The coach and horses pub has some parts dating back to the 17th cent. It used to have a blacksmiths next to it.

The village pond.

I wandered back to the station passing this row of mock Tudor shops which completed my last walk on  the Central Line. Having visited all the stations on the Bakerloo and the Central line I have   to 73 Underground stations  so that just leaves me with 197 to explore!