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Monday, 31-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: Stratford

Stratford mega-station
Bit closer
Ticket barriers
View all 6 photos...
Opened: Thursday 20th June 1839
Jubilee platforms opened: Friday 14th May 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.5 km
Change here for: Central line, Docklands Light Railway, North London line and 'One' (somebody please sack the incompetent PR gibbon who thought that name up)
Change here soon for: Eurostar services to St Pancras and Paris, via the new Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
Fact file: Stratford station used to be a bit of a dump. But it was completely rebuilt between 1996 and 1999 and is now a bit of a stunner, although it's still a heck of a long walk out of the station from the Jubilee line platforms. Coming soon, just to the north, Stratford International.
5 things I found outside this station: Meridian Square, a big bus station, a purple steam engine called Robert, scores of people, my local shopping centre.
Nearby: Stratford Market train depot (formerly a fruit & veg market), the Cultural Quarter (Theatre Royal + Stratford Picturehouse + Stratford Circus).
Nearby (maybe): Olympic Park 2012
Local history: no, no, no - this place has a local future.


Sunday, 30-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: West Ham

Above Jubilee platforms
Main concourse
Outside the station
Opened: Monday 16th October 1854
Jubilee platforms opened: Friday 14th May 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.6 km
Platform: exit to the right of the train
Change here for: District, Hammersmith & City, c2c and North London lines
Fact file: West Ham station is 1½ miles from West Ham football ground, which must fool a lot of away supporters. You want Upton Park instead, you do.
5 things I found outside this station: Ibstock bricks and small glass squares, Costcutter Express, a mini-roundabout, Memorial Avenue, a chippy under new management (shame, because the old management served right tasty cod)
Nearby (eastward): the East London Rugby Club, a few houses.
Nearby (westward): no houses, Bow Back Rivers, light industrial sprawl, Olympic Park 2012, the site of the old Big Brother House.
Local history: In the 1850s West Ham was the eighth largest town in the country. Keir Hardie became the first ever Labour MP when he was elected to represent West Ham in 1892.


Saturday, 29-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: Canning Town

Double-decker station
Entrance, with memorial
Westbound, below eastbound
Opened: Monday 14th June 1847
Jubilee platforms opened: Friday 14th May 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.7 km (beneath the River Thames yet again)
Platform: exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: the London Borough of Newham
Change here for: Docklands Light Railway and North London line
Fact file: This is a double decker station, with the DLR platforms directly above the Jubilee line platforms. The eastbound DLR runs directly above the westbound Jubilee, but in the same actual direction.
5 things I found outside this station: a big flyover on the A13, an MFI superstore, a teeming bus station, Purvi newsagents, a large stone memorial commemorating the nearby Thames Ironworks (HMS Warrior was built here in 1860)
Nearby: Bow Creek, Leamouth, Trinity Buoy Wharf (London's only lighthouse)
Local history: Ronan Point was once a typical new 1960s tower block, at least until Mrs Ivy Hodge woke early one morning in 1968 to make herself a cup of tea. She struck a match to light the gas on the cooker in her kitchen, and the resulting explosion caused all 23 floors in one corner of the block to collapse. Amazingly only five people died (not including Ivy) but Britain's high-rise tower block dream died with them.


Friday, 28-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: North Greenwich

Purple platforms
Looking down
View from Dome entrance
View all 12 photos...
Opened: Friday 14th May 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.7 km (beneath the River Thames again)
Platform (eastbound): exit to the left of the train
Platform (westbound): exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: the London Borough of Greenwich, zone 3
Fact file: North Greenwich station is even bigger than Canary Wharf station, but serves a local population of virtually zero. The station contains over 150000 tonnes of reinforced concrete and is sort of purple-themed. There are three platforms here rather than the usual two, just in case anyone ever wants to build a new branch line out to Beckton and the Royal Docks.
5 things I found outside this station: a carelessly-discarded Dome, WH Smiths, a bus station in the middle of nowhere, a 1000-space car park, Group 4 security.
Nearby: Millennium Dome, Millennium Way, Millennium Village, Millennium Quay, Millennium Sainsburys, big fat Millennium zero.
Nearby, but a 5 minutes detour by road: the Blackwall tunnel
Not nearby enough: Greenwich, civilisation.
Local history: It's hard to believe today but until the mid 19th century this was all farmland. The South Metropolitan Gas Works were built here in 1889, once the largest gasworks in Europe (they closed in 1985 but the giant gasholder still serves south-east London). The government chose to site the Millennium Dome here rather than in Birmingham because planned transport links were so good. The Dome opened on 31st December 1999, was universally slated by the press, failed to reach over-ambitious visitor targets and closed a year later having tainted the career of every politician who'd ever been involved with it. I quite liked it. Nobody comes to see the Dome any more, they come to catch buses to Charlton and Bexley. How are the mighty fallen.


Thursday, 27-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: Canary Wharf

New eastern entrance
New eastern escalators
View from main escalators
Opened: Friday 17th September 1999
Distance from previous station: 2.4 km (beneath the River Thames)
Platform: exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: the London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Change here for: Docklands Light Railway (quite a walk, though)
First photo shows: the new eastern entrance to the station, opened last month (and still fairly quiet).
Fact file: Canary Wharf tube station is an award-winning architectural masterpiece designed by Sir Norman Foster, buried within the former West India Dock. The station is so big that the whole of the largest nearby skyscraper could fit inside lengthways with room to spare. Nothing quite prepares you for your first descent down the bank of escalators into the vast subterranean space.
5 things I found outside this station: Docklands, One Canada Square (Britain's tallest building), a sculpted head lying on its side, Jubilee Place shopping centre beneath Jubilee Park, four clocks on poles.
Nearby: a forest of skyscrapers, over-priced flats, far too many posh shops and bars, new Billingsgate Market, the Museum In Docklands.
Local history: Canary Wharf used to be an insignificant cargo warehouse beside the West India Docks (opened 1802), so named because many of its imports came from the Canary Isles. West India Dock finally closed in 1980, the year in which the London Docklands Development Corporation was set up. The docks were filled in and major reconstruction began, with the huge tower at One Canada Square completed in 1990 (my television reception has never recovered). Without Canary Wharf the Jubilee line extension would never have been built. Tens of thousands of people now live and work in Docklands, rather more yuppie financial types than the swarthy dockers of old. Full history here.


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