100 Journeys: No 18

This week took me to a part of the network I don’t normally frequent and to a station I’ve never alighted at before: Warwick Avenue.

I don’t find myself on the Bakerloo Line often, but I’m very fond of it. If this project was about sounds then those of the Bakerloo would feature heavily in my list of favourites. The uneven clatter of the doors slamming together, the tuneful hum of the air compressors and the distinctive drone of the Metro-Cammell motors. It’s like traveling back in time.

The Bakerloo Line is the old gent of the Underground. It was there at the birth of The Tube in the early part of the 20th Century pioneering subterranean travel. It was an elegant Victorian transport solution and had stylish stations designed by legendary architect Leslie Green. It became a surban icon as it shared in the prosperous Metroland idyll with branches to Watford and Stanmore. It survived a Blitz. The Bakerloo Line has been through some stuff and it could tell you so many stories.

As time went on the Bakerloo Line grew old. It’s cousins on the Central and Northern kept up with the times evolving new technology and new trains. The Piccadilly got an extension to the airport to greet all of London’s guests whilst the Bakerloo had to give up one of it’s branches to the flashy new kid on the block. It’s stations got tattier (Warwick Ave Below), it’s responsibility shrunk, it’s signals aged and it’s dream of reaching Camberwell was abandoned. With most of it’s route superseded or duplicated by newer or more express lines, and without the unenviable task of having to run out to two suburban outposts, it’s hard to tell what the Bakerloo Line is really for anymore… But that’s never stopped the old chap. A reprieve is a long way off as new trains and signalling is not due until 2030. So until then the Bakerloo will keep soldiering on every day like it’s 1932.

You might get to your destination quicker on the Jubilee Line, or in more comfort on the Overground, but once in a while take The Bakerloo… It’ll tell you some stories…

More Journeys
<< No 17 || No 19 >>

5 thoughts on “100 Journeys: No 18

  1. I have just had a memory of visiting my grandparents in St John’s Wood 45- 50 years ago. We arrived at Paddington from Bath and took BOTH limbs of the Bakerloo line, from Paddington to Baker Street and then from Baker Street to St John’s Wood. The trains had areas for the guards to cordon off with green metal barriers, to protect themselves from the crowds. I think there is an example in the London Transport Museum. I seem to recall that we had to check the front of the train to ensure we caught a Stanmore train, as the junction was after the platform at Baker Street. Can that be right? Now there are separate platforms for the two branches, but I think that must have been done when the Stanmore branch transferred to the Jubilee line.

    But today the Bakerloo is one of the best lines in the West End because you can always get a seat in the last carriage in the Waterloo direction, however busy it is. And there are always seats at Waterloo going north, even in the rush hour. I hope by the time of any extension, I will have retired, for that reason. And there are speedy cross-platform changes (almost) at Oxford Circus (Victoria line) and Baker Street (Jubilee line), and a very quick change at Piccadilly Circus. Compare that with the changes at Tottenham Court Road and Holborn. It’s a brilliant line.

    • Yes that’s right the extra platforms were added when the Jubilee Line was built to offer an easy interchange for those on the bakerloo line who still wanted Stanmore and visa-versa. I imagine the southbound interchange was lesser used up until the Jubilee Line was extended in the late 90s as both lines would have then ended up at Charing Cross anyway. That idea of the cross-platform interchange was certainly lost on the Jubilee Line Extension. Try changing to/from it at Waterloo or London Bridge – Takes ages!

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