064/270: #StamfordBrook – The Blue Signs

In the last post at Turnham Green (063) we looked at oddities and how, in a way, each station presents its own uniqueness to the journey. But there are some very pleasing ‘uniformities’ to be noted (and enjoyed) about Underground Station designs as well.

We all recognise the roundel as the calling card of the network, but I think the station name plates themselves are just as recognisable. These present the name of the station in bold white capital letters on a blue background. They are more often than not found on the front of protruding canopies at the entrances to ticket halls. Even Leslie Green stations were at some point retro fitted with variations of white lettering on a blue background and this piece of design can be found at nearly every station. (With the only exception so far being Terminal 5 (025)).

Sometimes in the absence of entrance canopies, designers of these blue signs have got creative. Check out the vertical examples which sit fitted to the gateposts flanking the secondary entrance of Stamford Brook. Granted I’m going to continue to be awkward and post the picture in black and white, but trust me, you instantly know what this curious passageway is all about just by the colour of that sign…

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

Station Index

063/270: #TurnhamGreen – The Meta

So far we have discovered that there are many oddities on the Underground network. It does rather begs the question – How many oddities does it take for the oddities to no longer be oddities? I know right? Meta.

Turnham Green is another station with an oddity. It gets its regular service from the District Line, but early in the morning and late at night it is also served by the Piccadilly Line as well. This regular irregularity is unique to Turnham Green. Double Meta.

In a few years time, when the Piccadilly Line is re-signalled and receives new stock, TfL plan to introduce a full time service here. Turnham Green’s Meta will be De-Meta’d. Which is Triple Meta.

Did you keep up?

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

Station Index

062/270: #ChiswickPark – The Berliner

Tucked away in a crevice between the important interchange of Acton Town and the impossibly awkward Turnham Green is a station you’ve probably forgotten existed. It’s a station I too have dismissed in the past and, as you rush through on the centre tracks at speed, Chiswick Park looks like a dull pile of unloved and uninspiring concrete. But dismiss at your peril…

Chiswick Park’s cantilevered concrete canopy (and you can’t say you didn’t enjoy that tongue twister!) is inspired by Alfred Grenander’s Krumme Lanke station in Berlin. Once this is pointed out to you the grubby concrete suddenly gives way to ruggedly efficient and simple German engineering – and the station is seen in a whole new light. Germany was still recovering from a crippling depression after World War I, and large infrastructure projects to re-energise the country had to be constructed in a cost effective manner. The simplistic no-frills nature of Krumme Lanke is a perfect example of how pre-fabricated concrete can provide cheap and quick yet highly effective results. This was obviously something Charles Holden was particularly interested in when he designed the platforms here at Chiswick Park.

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

Station Index

061/270: #Bank – The Gap

From my last station Moorgate (060) to Bank, this part of the journey seems to be all about memories. It was some time around 1994 when the Central Line’s ’92 stock started to appear in service. They had exciting “perch” seats at the ends of each car and I’d not seen anything like it before. I’d be hoisted up onto them at Epping where I’d sit, eagerly awaiting the stretch between Liverpool Street and Bank when I could turn around and look back down the length of the train as it twisted its way round the right curves under Threadneadle Street. I remember being told the violent kinks in the line were built to avoid running into the vaults of the Bank of England itself. This I found enormously exciting.

Excitement would continue if we’d be alighting, where I’d have to jump the gap created between the train and the severe curvature of the platform – which was absolutely astronomical in the eyes of a 6 year old.

Today I have a very mixed relationship with Bank. I still hold onto that exciting memory 20+ years later. I’ll still occasionally glance through the train on the run back to Liverpool Street to watch it meander its way out of the city… But I will always do my upmost best to avoid actually using Bank. To interchange here is a nightmare. All the lines (DLR included) were constructed at different times, in different spaces, under different management. As a result they have never been properly bolted together with any sense of cohesion. It’s cramped, confusing and illogical. To exit here is even worse.

And don’t get me started on Monument.

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

060/270: #Moorgate – The Widened Lines

The Metropolitan railway was only 3 years old when it was already expanding its operation between Moorgate and King’s Cross. In 1866 the two track line was widened to four with additional connections provided at King’s Cross and St. Pancras to the Midland and Great Northern Railways. This offered direct through travel on the appropriately named “Widened Lines” from the north right into the heart of the city.

This was always a part of the network I found fascinating, particularly when I was young. The intertwining tube and national rail lines burrowing under and over each other, breaking in and out of daylight as they scraped the surface of the city. The overhead lines, the unusual national rail rolling stock sharing underground space with tube trains, the victorian retaining walls, the 60’s functionality and the people bustling about their busy city lives. This was my vision of London and it all began at Moorgate.

Service pattens, destinations and formations changed throughout the years but the Widened Lines eventually played host to the brand new Thameslink suburban services from 1988. Moorgate’s impressive and spacious subterranean terminal accommodated four terminating and two through lines. Coupled with the Northern City Line terminus below, Moorgate thrived as an important commuter hub in the city.

Sadly these days Moorgate is a shadow of its former self. In 2013 terminating Thameslink services were withdrawn and diverted through an expanded facility at Farringdon. As a result Platforms 5 & 6 closed. They were briefly used as an exhibition space for the Tube’s 150th birthday, but they have since been boarded up – the space to be presumably used for Crossrail expansions. Change is no doubt a good thing but I will always remember Moorgate for what it was. London’s Forgotten Terminus.

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk