083/270: #HarrowAndWealdstone – The Veteran

Ah Harrow & Wealdstone, I’ve been looking forward to you. Now we finally get to discuss, as promised at Kennington (049), what constitutes the oldest station on the Underground.

I know this is going to cause much debate, probably upset some purists and generally cause havoc amongst the railway community. But, I’m going to do it anyway as sometimes I like to play devils advocate.

Harrow & Wealdstone is the oldest station on the Underground.

WAIT WHAT?!

“But I thought you said Kennington was… and what about Baker Street… and and Paddington and and….”

Well all of those are in some way correct, it just depends on how you bend the definition of oldest:

  • Kennington is the oldest tube station (i.e. deep level) which also features an original street level building. Opened 1890. 127 years old.
  • Paddington through to Farringdon on the Circle Line is the oldest passenger Underground Railway. Opened 1863. 154 years old.
  • Snaresbrook and Woodford are the oldest stations on the network still to retain all or part of their original buildings. Opened 1856. 161 years old.
  • And finally, Harrow & Wealdstone is the oldest continuously existing station on the network served by Underground trains. Opened 1837. 180 years old.

Now I’m going to admit, the inclusion of Harrow & Wealdstone is fairly dubious as the station has been rebuilt so many times it’s akin to Trigger and his broom from Only Fools And Horses. Can it truly be the same broom if you’ve replaced both handle and brush multiple times? Nevertheless there has been a station on this site for going on 200 years, and despite the fact the Bakerloo Line wouldn’t arrive here until 80 years into the station’s existence, it’s still something I find impressive.

So come on, what do I really think, is Harrow & Wealdstone really the ‘oldest’ Underground station? Well notice how I’ve been careful in my naming of both here and Kennington… and let’s just say that there’s still Snaresbrook, Woodford and a whole host of Circle Line stations still to visit…

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

Station Index

082/270: #SouthKenton – The Book And Its Cover

If ever there was a station personified by the expression “Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover” it would be South Kenton.

South Kenton’s ‘cover’ is a cramped and depressing underpass tucked away behind some bins round the back of a shop. This apologetic entrance barely announces its own existence, no street level building, no gateline and barely even a ticket office. (And yes this is a station that still has a ticket office, as don’t forget this stretch of line is owned and managed by Network Rail).

However, behind all this bleakness lies a rather pleasant Art Deco canopy and waiting room. It’s the perfect place therefore, in rain or shine, to stand and admire the constant stream of expresses on the West Coast Main Line.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge South Kenton by its entrance.

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

Station Index

081/270: #NorthWembley – The New Lines

What has been so fascinating about this project is not only is it dragging me round areas of London I would perhaps never have visited, it’s also enabling me to discover and learn the histories and origins of unfamiliar lines. I must admit for me, this stretch of the Bakerloo Line has never garnered much interest but scratch beneath the surface and this is a truly fascinating part of the network.

You’ll notice, like here at North Wembley, that the West Coast Mainline and it’s trains are rushing by us – something which started back at Queens Park and will continue all the way up to Harrow & Wealdstone. Now express lines running next to suburban ones is nothing new, but the manner in which it works here is routed in something very clever.

We’re running on part of the original London & North Western Railway route from Euston to Birmingham constructed in 1837 – a route which is a whopping 180 years old. Naturally back then, London was much smaller and the first calling point after Euston was not until Harrow. As London and it’s suburbs grew it was realised that the LNWR’s flagship route, slicing its way through Willesden and Wembley, was missing out on potential urban traffic. Instead of simply erecting some new stations along its route, in 1912 the LNWR constructed two completely new tracks parallelling, but running completely isolated of, their existing infrastructure. Suburban traffic would therefore not interfere with the smooth running of their express services in what was at the time an incredibly well thought out bit of forward planning. This is in contrast to the Metropolitain Railway which, to this day, has to put up with fast and slow services sharing the same facilities – certainly between Moor Park and Amersham at least. It’s this New Lines scheme that today hosts the Bakerloo Line to Harrow and Overground to Watford, with this Victorian bit of planning going a long way to ensuring the smooth running of both urban and intercity traffic. in North London

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

Station Index