Victorian Westbourne Park with its ornate canopies of an illustrious yet reserved design sits in the wake of the brash, noisy viaduct carrying the A40 Westway out of town. The fumes and never ending drone of the traffic breaths down on this part of town in an all consuming way, defining the area. Separated by 100 years, there’s not a more polarising illustration of two transport design mediums than here. In the 1960’s Westway blasted through the suburbs, a concrete monstrosity that opened up Londoner’s eyes to what a city of motorways might look like. The pleasing somewhat quaint brick and wood structures of the Underground with its quiet electric trains must look effortlessly appealing in comparison.
Yet we must remember that most of our Victorian railways arrived in exactly same way. Brazen monolithic viaducts carrying thundering machines of fire and ash, pile driven through slum communities, without a care for the resultant destruction and disruption to life that they caused. We may look at Westway here, the Eastcross route in Hackney, the North Circular in Woodford or Aspen Way in Poplar as blights on the local landscape, killing kittens with their pollution and dirt, but our Victorian cousins would have once thought much the same of the railways we now hold in much higher esteem.
Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk