Here we have a station once so grotty a duplicate of it was constructed to depict the seedy underbelly of planet Earth in We Will Rock You‘s dystopian future. Dirty, dark, overcrowded and full of strip lighting, for years Tottenham Court Road was the unloved runt of all the Central London stations.
Then along came Crossrail. Not happy with connecting up it’s flagship construction project to dilapidated tube stations, TfL have been making haste with the paint brush. Emerging from it’s slumber Tottenham Court Road is now a bright symphony of colour and space. Lifted too from the years of grim are the famous 1984 Eduardo Paolozzi mosaics that give this station it’s unique identity.
It’s difficult to post these pictures in black and white when the artistic purpose of Paolozzi’s tiles is to be bright and vibrant. However this is a format I’ve now set myself, and will stubbornly follow until the end. In the absence of colour, instead appreciate the patterns and shapes of his work – which depicts the nearby music and record shops that used to populate the area above.
Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk
Along with the stickers I mentioned earlier, I was surprised to see that the yellow warning of disruption stickers that have announced Tottenham Court Road’s closure were still up at stations. Until I looked closer. It seems Holland Park is next on TfL’s upgrade hit list. This may be a blessing for some as the station is starting to look particularly tired and dated. On the other hand I’ve always been rather fond of Holland Park’s very retro signage and décor. Go have a look whilst you can, it’ll be gone by January!
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Image From Crossrail
From The CAS Team
Compiled by Edward Kendall & Andy Carter
A very blurry photo of the shiny new roundals going back up at Tottenham Court Road. You can just about make out the vibrant colours of the original retained Eduardo Paolozzi 80’s mosaic which has been incorporated into the new station design.
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The Friday Evening Shuffle.
For those not lucky enough to use Oxford Circus station during rush hour, they often intermittently close the station entrance due to overcrowding on the platforms bellow. This just moves the overcrowding onto street level where people often spill onto the road junction and generally make a massive cock up of an already heavily congested area. This is a station that seems to operate on the cusp of complete meltdown at all times. I’m surprised nobody has yet been hit by a bus or got crushed in the crowd as everybody shuffles closer to the entrance.
It could be argued that Oxford Circus has never really been fit for purpose. Crowds like this would regularly swamp the original Leslie Green surface buildings on the corner of Argyll Street, which, before the advent of the Victoria Line’s construction in the 1960’s, was the only entrance to the station.* London population has now evidently caught up with the 60’s ticket hall which lies directly beneath the road crossing and the crippling crowds have returned.
It’s easy to criticise without coming up with a solution, but a serious long term fix to this problem is a difficult one. The extensive rebuilds of neighbouring Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street stations for Crossrail will no doubt help – the two year part closure of the former of those two certainly adding to the Oxford Circus problem. But how long before these are at capacity? With the ever growing unaffordability of London housing, long distance commuting isn’t going to decrease anytime soon. Another rebuild of the station is probably best avoided too as real estate for alternative entrances is surely unobtainable in this area. It’s also such an important interchange TfL could do without having to close for long periods of time. Perhaps it’s time that pedestrianisation, or at least part pedestrianisation, of both Oxford Street and Regent Street is considered. It would surely give more street space to expand entrance staircases and maybe the ticket office bellow whilst still keeping the station open. The added benefit of course being that Europe’s so called premier shopping street will finally be rid of traffic.
Until then… shuffle shuffle.
*I seriously recommend a watch of Experiment Under London which documents the incredibly clever construction of the Oxford Circus ticket hall we know today.
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