During a look round University of London’s Senate House as part of Open House weekend, we stumbled upon this rather fabulous map which was created by Macdonald Gill in 1939.
It maps the various colleges that were part of the university at the time. It also shows various other London landmarks and features main-line stations and tube stops. Even without being told it’s age you can certainly have a guess at back dating the piece from the station names which include Strand, Lords and Uxbridge Road.
But one name stands out…
Between Lords and Marlborough Road lies the marker “Acacia.”
A 1939 tube map tells a similar story, this time listing the station as Acacia Road. Today, we know the stop as St. John’s Wood which opened the same year as part of the then Bakerloo Line. This suggests there was a late change in heart when it came to the name of the station. Why is unclear, but it’s perhaps more descriptive of the area than “Acacia Road” would have been.
The inclusion of Lords and Marlborough Road is perhaps a bit of a mystery as these were being closed that same year (both to be replaced by the aforementioned St. John’s Wood), instantly making the work of art incorrect.
But should we worry? This is a beautiful snippet of 1939 London. Many of the colleges it depicts do not exist anymore, much like how the stations listed have fallen out of use or gone through identity changes. This is as close as you’re going to get to an early 20th century “screen shot” and is a wonderful preservation of an identity that never was.