I love looking at Stanmore on a map. Go on, go on Google Earth and look at Stanmore station. There’s one more street beyond it, and then London just… ends.
I don’t think there’s anything quite like it anywhere else in the city. London’s sprawl usually seems to transition slowly and gradually from urban chaos to garden-filled suburbia to open fields. Even at its outer reaches the green spaces are still interspersed with residential streets, smaller communities and the odd out of town Tesco. But not at Stanmore. Houses, houses, cars, offices, houses, Jubilee Line, houses, houses… Nothing.
If the Jubilee Line continued on it’s current alignment north by northwest of Stanmore, then it would bump into absolutely nothing between here and the M25.
Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk
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 With most of it’s route superseded or duplicated by newer or more express lines, and without the unenviable task of having to run out to two suburban outposts, it’s hard to tell what the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…
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