106/270: #Temple – The Opportunity Missed

Many London Underground stations, most notably those of the Leslie Green era in the early 20th century, were constructed in a low-rise fashion utilising steel frames and flat roofs allowing for future developments to be built on top of them. Prime examples can be seen all over the city especially in the centre of town where real estate is at a premium. Oxford Circus (002) and Goodge Street are two that instantly spring to mind.

It’s unclear to me whether the District Railway architects of Temple, constructed 1870, were attempting to employ a similar concept. A long single story facade fronts the Victoria Embankment with a huge flat roof terrace above, which plays host to… well, nothing. In retrospect it’s unlikely Temple was designed with vertical expansion in mind as this American influenced practice wasn’t going to become commonplace for another 20-30 years. Granted, there’s probably a back story to why Temple is only a large single story – perhaps the buildings behind on Temple Place had protected riverside views? Or perhaps the architects quite literally wanted it to look like a Temple to blend in with local architecture.

The good news however is that the roof terrace is accessible to the public, but to what end I have absolutely no idea. Prepare to be disappointed by a handful of forlorn benches and uneven paving, for that’s all that’s there. Even an 1899 picture of the station shows the terrace completely baron, so I really can’t work out what it’s for.

Westminster council call the terrace a “Roof Garden,” though I feel that’s stretching the boundary of the word ‘garden’. The website also claims to offer “great views across the river Thames towards the South Bank opposite” but if you arrive mid summer as I did, that view is rather blocked by the canopy of trees lining the Embankment, and besides the single story elevation is really no different than standing by the river across the road itself.

I can’t help but feel that Temple is an opportunity missed. There’s certainly scope for either TfL or Westminster Council (whoever actually owns the roof) to open up a nice landscaped garden, or even make use of the terrace as an events or arts space. Who knows perhaps there’s even money to be made here. I’m surprised Bar Salsa, the drinking establishment occupying the western end of the station, hasn’t got their hands on it and done something similar.

Dear Dragons…

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

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105/270: #CharingCross – The Centrepoint

Nelson, aloft his column, stares down on Trafalgar Square and Whitehall with an all commanding stance. He’s definitely the feature piece of the grand plaza that plays host to a famous collection of monuments and icons. In infrastructure terms however Nelson is but a mere footnote compared to the equestrian statue of King Charles I, who sits isolated in the middle of a mini roundabout. It’s at this exact point in front of Charlie’s horse’s hooves that all distances to and from London are measured. Seen a sign 120 miles to London on the M1? 120 miles to this exact point.

This subway entrance next to it is about as close as a tube station gets to being in dead centre of London. So what about the Underground? Is there a centre point, a mile zero, for the whole network? Yes… but it’s not here

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

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104/270: #Waterloo – The Crane

En route to my favourite bookshop in town, Ian Allan obviously, I pass round the back of Waterloo station with the dominant triangular glass roof occupying the horizon. Nestled in between this and the main road is a blue crane, poking its head just above the surface of the street. With the Waterloo & City line being completely isolated from the rest of the tube network, this winch is the only way to get trains, one car at a time, in and out of the depot buried beneath the roadway.

Or at least so I thought. 

This is actually a common myth, and the crane seen below is merely used as a goods lift. *

This naturally seems incredibly awkward but, as is the way with so much of London, it didn’t always used to be the way. When the Waterloo & City line was constructed a similar hoist was provided with direct rail access to the low level sidings along side the station allowing tube cars to be hauled away for maintenance. The original Armstrong lift was powered by hydraulics.

These days the only way to get cars in and out of the depot is via a mobile road crane.*

*Thanks to @MoreToJack for the corrections.

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

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097/270: #Paddington (Hammersmith & City and Circle) – The Canal

If you’re travelling to Paddington from East London it’s probably best to direct yourself to the other Paddington (055) tube station (yes there are two, yes they are separate, yes I’ll talk more about this when I get to one of the Edgware Road’s). For ease of plonking you on the concourse of the mainline station or anywhere near Praed St you really want to use the District, Circle and Bakerloo line station of which we’ve already visited. As functional and efficient as this is it’s not quite as interesting as the Hammersmith & City and Cirlce* flavour of Paddington, nestled away at the back of the mainline station alongside Brunel’s glorious glass roof.

If watching the Great West Mainline trains isn’t your thing from the panorama at the end of the platform (and if you’re reading this blog, I’m surprised it isn’t), then pop upstairs to this stations side exit. Instead of stepping out onto any other mundane roadway, you’ll instead be greeted by Paddington Basin, a short cul de sac of waterway off the Regent’s Canal. Turn left and follow the pathway under Westway and you’ll soon be in picturesque Little Venice, with little to remind you of the hustle and bustle of the mainline terminus you just left behind.

*Circle Line trains serve both Paddington stations post 2009. This I find extremely irritating and unhelpful. TfL would do well to rename this station Paddington North to help funnel unsuspecting tourists in the right direction and to stop them walking a mile if they catch the wrong train…

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

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091/270: #Borough – The Lifts

According to TfL there are 184 passenger lifts across the network. Many of these survive from the very first tube lines built in the first decade of the 20th century, namely the Northern, Piccadilly and Bakerloo.

The first escalator wasn’t installed on the Underground until 1911 at Earl’s Court so every deep level station built prior to this would have had lifts.

As anyone frequenting Covent Garden will tell you (a station whose lifts have to move up to 80,000 people a day), lifts are incredibility inefficient at coping with large passenger flows and therefore most of those early tube stations in busy Central London locations have now had escalators installed in their place.*

Look out for the cylinder aloft Borough station with its accompanying concrete roundel, this now houses the lift equipment, replacing the original dome-like structure similar to that at Kennington (049).

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

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