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Friday, 21-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: Westminster

Concrete catacombs
Platform-edge doors
Portcullis House
Opened: Thursday 24th December 1868
Jubilee line platforms opened: Tuesday 22nd December 1999 (the most recent new platforms on the Underground network)
Distance from previous station: 1.3 km
Platform (eastbound): exit to the left of the train
Platform (westbound): exit to the right of the train
Change here for: District and Circle lines
Station originally called: Westminster Bridge
Fact file: Rebuilding Westminster station to accommodate the Jubilee line was an engineering nightmare, restricted by the close proximity of the Houses of Parliament and the River Thames. Great care had to be taken to prevent Big Ben from toppling (the solution involved meticulous injections of liquid cement and 'compensation grouting'). The District line platforms had to be lowered by half a metre, beneath those went the eastbound Jubilee tunnel, and beneath that the westbound tunnel. A deep narrow cavern was excavated 32 metres downwards beneath Portcullis House, filled with interlocking escalators, concrete struts and concourses. It's quite magnificent, like a giant grey game of snakes and ladders.
This is my station: I descend three levels down from the District line into the bowels of the earth every morning, but ascend back only two levels in the evening. And yes, I never fail to be impressed by the stunning architecture as I pass through.
5 things I found outside this station: Big Ben (OK, St Stephen's Tower), the Houses of Parliament, Portcullis House, the River Thames, tight security.
Nearby: Westminster Abbey, Westminster Hall, Whitehall, the Cenotaph, democracy (apparently)
Local history: No no no, national history.


Monday, 17-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: Charing Cross

The Jubilee line platforms are now blocked off behind this wall
Eleanor Cross
Trafalgar Square
Opened: Saturday 10th March 1906
Jubilee line platforms opened: Tuesday 1st May 1979
Jubilee line platforms closed: Friday 19th November 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.1 km
Change here for: Bakerloo and Northern lines
Station originally called: Trafalgar Square and/or Strand
Fact file: London's most recently abandoned tube station. The first photo shows the wall built five years ago at the bottom of the main escalators to block off the Jubilee platforms from the rest of the station.
12 things I found outside this station: Charing Cross mainline station, an Eleanor Cross, the Strand, a vast shabby white-tiled 70s subway, Trafalgar Square, not many pigeons, Sir Henry Havelock on a plinth, St Martin-in-the-Fields church, the South African embassy, a group of scary Morris dancers, a memorial to Oscar Wilde, the point from which all 'distances from London' are measured.
Nearby: Nelson's Column, the National Gallery, Admiralty Arch, The Mall, Whitehall, Embankment station.
Local history: King Edward I erected a monument here in 1293 to mark the last resting place of his wife's funeral cortege. Cromwell pulled down the original Eleanor Cross in 1647, so the present stone spire in the station forecourt is a Victorian replacement. Of Edward's 12 original crosses along the route from Lincoln to London, only those at Geddington, Hardingstone and Waltham Cross survive.


Sunday, 16-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: Green Park

Green Park tiling
Green Park
Jubilee line diagram
Opened: Saturday 15th December 1906
Jubilee line platforms opened: Tuesday 1st May 1979
Distance from previous station: 1.5 km
Platform: exit to the right of the train
Change here for: Piccadilly and Victoria lines (actually, don't change here for the Piccadilly line because you have to walk for ages down a really long passage)
Station originally called: Dover Street
Fact file: All the tiling on the platforms is orange, not Green.
This is my station: I commute to Green Park station every morning, and I have this station sussed. I was the first person up the Jubilee line escalators on four days out of five last week. Hundreds of commuters behind me, and no running thankyou. I am the Green Park champion, I am.
5 things I find outside this station: the grinning lady who blocks the station exit trying to hand out free magazines, Piccadilly, the smiley bloke who sells me my Evening Standard, the Benjy's where I often buy lunch, a surprisingly high proportion of posh men wearing bow ties and dinner jackets.
Nearby: Green Park, my office, the Ritz, Langan's Brasserie, Buckingham Palace.


Saturday, 15-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: Bond Street

Bond Street tiling
Station entrance below ground
West One Shopping Centre
Opened: Monday 24th September 1900
Jubilee line platforms opened: Tuesday 1st May 1979
Distance from previous station: 1.7 km
Platform: exit to the right of the train
Change here for: Central line
You'd be quicker changing here: From here to Stratford by Jubilee line takes 30 minutes. From here to Stratford by Central line takes 20 minutes.
Fact file: There is no nearby road called Bond Street - instead this station is named after New Bond Street and Old Bond Street.
5 things I found outside the station: bustling Oxford Street, the West One shopping centre, bureaux de change, loads of people, Evening Standard!
Nearby: Selfridges, the site of my great grandfather's tailor's shop in South Molton Street, the American Embassy (now hiding behind grim concrete barriers).
Local history: Bond Street is named after Sir Thomas Bond, a wily 17th century property speculator and close friend of King Charles II. Bond laid out the fine streets round these parts, and would no doubt be delighted that the street named after him is now synonymous with luxury.


Friday, 14-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: Baker Street

Southbound platform
Outside the station
Lost Property Office
Opened: Saturday 10th January 1863
Distance from previous station: 2.1 km
Platform (northbound): exit to the left of the train
Platform (southbound): exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: zone 1
Change here for: Bakerloo line (a very easy same-level interchange), Metropolitan line, Circle line, Hammersmith & City line.
You'd be quicker changing here: From here to West Ham by Jubilee line takes 29 minutes. From here to West Ham by Hammersmith & City line takes 27 minutes.
Fact file: Baker Street is one of only seven underground stations on the world's first underground line between Paddington and Farringdon. The Bakerloo line deep-level station opened here in 1906, and the line out to Stanmore in 1939.
5 things I found outside the station: hundreds of tourists buying tacky souvenirs and pizzas, long queues for sightseeing buses, a statue of Sherlock Holmes, Transport for London's Lost Property Office (it's amazing what people lose), the big green copper dome of the London Planetarium (opened 1958).
Nearby (1): Madame Tussaud's waxworks dates back to 1835, when French sculptress Marie Tussaud opened her famous collection in Baker Street. I went to nursery school in her old studios, you know, up Watford way. Nowadays Ms Tussaud's legacy is an overpriced tourist trap complete with mild fright and Kylie's arse.
Nearby (2): Sherlock Holmes never lived at 221B Baker Street, mainly because he didn't exist and neither did the address. If he had, a shabby Abbey National now lies on the site, a feeble window display the only target for snapping cameras.


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