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Thursday, 13-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: St John's Wood

The Abbey Road Café
Abbey Road
Lord's
Opened: Monday 20th November 1939
Distance from previous station: 900m
Platform: exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: the London Borough of Westminster
Fact file: St John's Wood is the only station on the Underground network that shares no letters with the word 'mackerel'. The station was nearly called Acacia Road but the name was changed just before opening (which is just as well otherwise there'd be no mackerel-free tube stations).
5 things I found outside the station: a circular ticket hall with high glass windows, seven floors of flats built above the station, a shrubbery complete with palm trees, the tiny Abbey Road Café, hordes of Inter-Railers clutching Multimap printouts trying to work out where 'that' recording studo is.
Nearby (1): Abbey Road recording studios, opened by Sir Edward Elgar in 1931 but more famously home to the Beatles between 1962 and 1970. You can take a virtual visit here and watch that legendary zebra crossing on webcam here. Groups of young tourists still hang around outside wielding digital cameras, or crouching on the pavement writing messages on the walls in black marker pen.
Nearby (2): Lord's Cricket Ground, home to the Marylebone Cricket Club, the Ashes and some would argue of cricket itself. The ground takes up a large slice of northwest London, the new Media Centre looming over the area like an alien spaceship. You can visit the Lord's Museum, drink in the Lord's Tavern, shop in the Lord's shop, or just stay away and watch football instead.
Local history: St John's Wood was one of the first London suburbs, built in Victorian times to encourage the upper middle classes to move out of central London to the more rural outskirts. Well, they were rural at the time. Semi-detached villas and rows of apartment blocks line the leafy avenues, and almost every building has three to five storeys. NW8 still feels rather upmarket, but I suspect most addresses in the area start with the word 'Flat'.


Wednesday, 12-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: Swiss Cottage

Swiss Cottage
The Swiss Cottage
Uplighters on the escalator
Opened: Monday 20th November 1939
Distance from previous station: 600m
Platform: exit to the right of the train
Fact file: This station replaced the original Swiss Cottage station on the Metropolitan line, opened in 1868. The old station and what's left of the old platform are still visible on the journey between Finchley Road and Baker Street. Two other Metropolitan stations closed on the same day in 1939 - Marlborough Road and Lords.
5 things I found outside the station: five station exits via subways, a dead busy road junction on the Finchley Road, Ye Olde Swiss Cottage (it's a chalet-style pub, built in 1840 beside the old Junction Road tollgate, now complete with exhaust fume soaked beer garden), Fujifilm House, an old Odeon cinema
Nearby: 'Louis of Hampstead' Hungarian confectioners, lots more shops, South Hampstead station, where the Saatchi Gallery used to be.


Tuesday, 11-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: Finchley Road

Finchley Road station
The train arriving at...
... platform 3
Opened: Friday 13th June 1879
Distance from previous station: 600m
Platform: exit to the left of the train
Change here for: Metropolitan line
You'd be quicker changing here: From here to Baker Street by Jubilee line takes 7 minutes. From here to Baker Street (non-stop) by Metropolitan line takes 6 minutes. And it's a dead easy cross-platform change too.
Fact file: It's here that the underground section of the Jubilee line begins, through tunnels opened in 1939. Finchley Road station is four miles from Finchley.
5 things I found outside the station: the 02 shopping centre (a very modern mall complete with fishtanks and jungle-themed escalators), George's Shoe Repairs, the A41, Waitrose, a mysterious old wooden door labelled 'Meakers'.
Nearby: West Hampstead station is less than half a mile away to the west, through Sainsbury's car park. Swiss Cottage station is less than half a mile away to the southeast, at the other end of a busy shopping street.
Local history: Sigmund Freud lived just round the corner in Maresfield Gardens. He moved here from Germany in 1938 to escape the Nazis but died a year later. His house is still open as a museum, and there's a statue to Freud nearby.


Monday, 10-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: West Hampstead

West Hampstead station
Glimpsed through the bars of a footbridge
Opened: Monday 30th June 1879
Distance from previous station: 1.1 km
Platform: exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: the London Borough of Camden
Fact file: There are three different West Hampstead stations, all along the same road within 200 yards of each other. There's a Jubilee line station, a North London line station and a Thameslink station. There are plans to build a single interchange here, linking also to Chiltern Railways trains. If this ever happens you'll be able to change here for Birmingham, Bedford, Brighton and Bermondsey, but local residents have mixed views
You'd be quicker changing here: From here to Stratford by Jubilee line takes 40 minutes. From here to Stratford by North London line takes 35 minutes.
5 things I found outside the station: long queues for tickets, Mr Gingham's sandwich bar (sliced egg, £1.30), The Flower Gallery, the smell of bacon, a big green Camden 'Trade Waste' bin.
Nearby: real Hampstead, none of this 'West' wannabe status.


Sunday, 9-May-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Silver Jubilee: Kilburn

Kilburn station
The blue bridge
View from the bridge
Opened: Monday 24th November 1879
Distance from previous station: 1.2 km
Platform: exit to the right of the train
Station originally called: Kilburn & Brondesbury
Fact file: Kilburn station lies at one end of that 147 ft long blue steel bridge you can see in the first photo, from which there are fine views across to Hampstead Heath and the BT Tower. The view is better from Metropolitan line trains than Jubilee line trains because they're taller.
5 things I found outside the station: a double viaduct painted blue, Shoot Up Hill (actually the A5 Watling Street), an old postbox, Kilburn Flowers, a dry cleaners that sells records.
Nearby: my great grandfather's grave (still lost somewhere in Paddington Cemetery), the Tricycle Theatre, a legendary Ian Dury band.
Local history: Kilburn grew up around a 12th century nunnery, built where Watling Street crossed the Kelbourne brook. Foyles bookshop started in Kilburn, moving to Charing Cross Road in 1926. The Gaumont State Cinema opened in 1937, then the largest cinema in the UK, and still contains the largest original Wurlitzer in full working order in Britain today.


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