Category Archives: London's Termini

Give my regards to Broad Street

As regular readers will know, I’m fascinated by abandoned railway stations. Almost as fascinating, though, are the dilapidated ones, the ones that haven’t changed since some time in the early 1980s, shabby, echoey and grubby. Trains are few and far between, as are passengers. I don’t know why I love them so much, maybe it’s because such places feel undisturbed, like I have some sort of privileged access to them. Or maybe it’s just because I’m unbelievably strange and perverted.

For these reasons and more, I wish I’d had the opportunity to visit the terminus at Broad Street. Poor, poor Broad Street. If the London termini were people, Broad Street would be a pitiful drunk sitting in a bar telling everyone how he “used to be somebody.”

It started out so well. Broad Street was originally built by the cumbersomely-named East & West India Docks & Birmingham Junction Railway. The aim of this company was, as its name suggests, basically to make its fortune transporting goods from the Docklands to the London & Birmingham Railway. In this, it succeeded admirably. An early amendment was to change its name to the snappier “North London Railway.”

Commuter traffic was initially a secondary consideration for the NLR – they ran passenger trains fo’ sho’, but this was more of a “we might as well” measure than anything else.  To the surprise of the company directors, though, it turned out that their passenger trains into Fenchurch Street (run by arrangement with the London and Blackwall Railway, who owned that terminus) were very popular indeed. This despite the fact that the NLR took a ridiculously circuitous route around London before reaching Fenchurch Street, no less than 44 miles.

It was therefore decided that the NLR could afford to take a gamble on getting more direct access to the City. Particularly since the London and North Western Railway (of which the aforementioned London & Birmingham Railway was now part) offered to stump up much of the cost in exchange for use of such an extension.  The LNWR also supplied a designer, their own engineer, William Baker. The site of the new terminus was to be at the end of a branch from Kingsland, on the junction of Liverpool Street and Broad Street.

Construction was not without its difficulties. Building through crowded East London necessitated the demolition of many crowded streets – the NLR undertook to provide a cheap workers’ train from Dalston, but those forced out decided they’d rather walk and just moved to the neighbouring streets, making them yet more crowded. Excavation revealed some sort of medieval mass grave whose origins were not known – one theory had it that, as one of Bedlam’s several incarnations was nearby, this had been where its dead were buried.

Nevertheless, in 1865 the station opened. Alan A. Jackson describes the architectural style as “really rather horrid,” which I think is perhaps going a bit too far. The Illustrated London News was more charitable, describing the style as “mixed Italian.” Perhaps it is a bit over-elaborate for the size of the terminus. Oddly, we don’t know who the architect was – presumably William Baker had assistance, but from whom is unrecorded.

One ingenious feature to make the most of the very expensive land was to build the goods depot requested by the LNWR under the station, with wagons lowered by a hydraulic lift. As a result, whatever architectural merits the station may have lacked, it was undeniably an efficient use of space, taking up a mere 2½ acres in total.

The NLR nicknamed the station its “happy afterthought,” for it was immediately popular with commuters and rapidly became the third-busiest terminus in London. At the beginning of the 20th century, more than one train a minute left the station, serving such varied destinations as Richmond, Chalk Farm, Bow, Watford, Kingston, High Barnet, Kew, Potters Bar, Mansion House, Kensington Olympia and even Birmingham.

Unfortunately, this prosperity was not to last. As it turned out, the success of Broad Street was largely based on the fact that it had a monopoly on fast commuter trains. As the Tube, tram and bus networks expanded, so people turned to those instead. The NLR desperately advertised their service as “the open-air route,” but no one fell for it.

In 1911, when passenger numbers reached their lowest since the station’s opening, the LNWR decided that electrification was in order – as has been mentioned before, this was seen as terribly clean and modern. This did seem to slow the decline considerably, but services never entirely recovered.

During the Second World War, many of the East London stations were severely damaged by enemy action, and it was decided after the end of the conflict that it wasn’t worth fixing them up again. The service to Poplar (which was rather unPoplar with passengers) was cut altogether. Broad Street itself had been hit, and again, it was not considered worth repairing.

The main station building was abandoned altogether in the 1950s and replaced by a couple of smaller buildings on the concourse. Traffic at this stage was so poor that only two staff were needed for the entire terminus.

In 1963 British Railways declared their intention to close the place altogether, but were thwarted by local opinion. Instead, BR carried out what is known in railway circles as “closure by stealth,” i.e. not officially closing the station but instead making the station so useless as to render it undesirable to keep open. To this end, services were diverted or cut altogether and maintenance was cut to the bare minimum. Part of the overall roof was removed in 1967 which, as you can see above left, gave the station a half-complete look. By the 1980s, only one platform was needed to accommodate the pathetically small number of passengers. Demolition of the rest began in 1985 and final closure came in 1986.

Although the North London Railway mostly survives as part of the Overground and Docklands Light Railways, nothing remains of old Broad Street. The Broadgate Estate was built on top of it, so it couldn’t be reopened even if anyone wanted to (and they don’t).

And it showed such promise.


Filed under 19th century, 20th Century, Buildings and architecture, East End and Docklands, Geography, History, London, London's Termini, Politics, Shoreditch, The City, Transport

Getting Cross

Seeing the new Harry Potter film (it turns out Voldemort and Tom Riddle are the same person) has inspired me to continue my thrilling series on the termini of London with King’s Cross.

Thanks to the Harry Potter franchise, King’s Cross is now probably the most famous railway station in London. Although, as I believe I said before, it rather irritates me that in the films, they decided to use St Pancras for the external shots instead. I don’t know, maybe they just felt that King’s Cross didn’t look stereotypically British enough, or just not sufficiently magical.

I know you’re not supposed to, but I actually prefer the architecture of King’s Cross to its Gothic neighbour. Its Italianate simplicity has a kind of casual dignity, a kind of unfussy impressiveness, like it’s cool and it doesn’t even need to try. Granted, these days it’s a little spoilt by that municipal bus shelter thing British Rail saw fit to graft on to its front, but that’s due to be demolished, so thank God for the triumph of common sense.

The station was designed by Lewis Cubitt for the Great Northern Railway, a company whose name alone inspires. It was opened in 1852, and the simplicity of the design was actually a deliberate measure to save money. The whole station, including the Great Northern Hotel, cost less than the frontage alone at Euston Station, a snip at £123,000 for the biggest station in London at the time.

The only conspicuous ornamentation was on the clock tower, which had been on display at the Great Exhibition the previous year. For some reason it has four faces, even though one is never visible due to the fact that there’s a bloody great train shed in the way. The clock also used to have three bells for sounding the hour, but these were removed in 1947. It’s also worth noting that it never agreed with the clock at St Pancras, which must have made for some interesting scenes among last-minute passengers.

As time went on, the original station was found wanting – pity the poor signalman, who had to juggle local services, goods trains, expresses to Scotland and, from the 1860s, Metropolitan Railway trains (which had to come in backwards). At peak times there was so much traffic that it could take up to half an hour to cover the half a mile to Holloway. Extra platforms were added and, in 1875, a whole new station. This was known as “Kings Cross Main Line (Local Station),” but is now the suburban platforms. This, fans of the Harry Potter books should note, is where Platforms 9 and 10 can be found. Legend also has it that this is the site of Boudicca’s grave, although scholars refer to this theory as “bollocks.”

In 1878, the Metropolitan got its own platforms (or, as they were known then, “Kings Cross (Suburban),” which is of course not confusing in the slightest), which were notorious among train drivers for being very difficult to start from – the tunnel leading out was smoky in steam days and the track was steeply graded and sharply curved, and condensation made the rails slippery. Some poor egg was stationed in the tunnel to drop sand on the rails every time a train went by. In 1932, one train actually slipped backwards without the driver realising until it bumped into the locomotive behind.

Various other alterations followed over the years, but I suspect they would be of zero interest to anyone other than my fellow geeks, so I’ll spare you for now.

The station has always been associated with speed and the romance thereof. In the late 19th century, they were one of the starting points for the Races to the North, when the East and West Coast railways competed to see who could provide the fastest service to Scotland (an unfortunate side effect of which was that passengers often ended up in Aberdeen at around 4am).

During the twentieth century, the luxurious expresses of the London and North Eastern Railway departed from King’s Cross. Most famous of these was the non-stop Flying Scotsman, but one should not forget the streamlined splendour of the Silver Jubilee, the Coronation or the Queen of Scots.

This art deco opulence was slightly marred in 1934 by the discovery of a gruesome crime – a disembodied pair of legs were found in the left luggage office. The crime was never solved, and the only lead police had was that the legs fitted a torso found in the luggage office at Brighton. This can only mean one thing – if a man can carry half a woman on the Underground across London without being noticed, there is no excuse for those tourists who make a massive hash of simply carrying a suitcase.

The station sustained some damage during World War II and was taken over by British Railways in 1948 who, as they so loved to do, ran the place into the ground. One notable event during the 1950s was the station’s prominent role in The Ladykillers, about which I have written before.

A plan was drawn up in the Sixties to extensively modernise the station with a new extension. This never came to pass. but based upon the contemporary account by Alan A. Jackson that I have in front of me, it would basically have been like what we got, only bigger and worse. The horrible extension that was actually built appeared in 1972.

The station saw a number of accidents over its lifetime, mostly caused by the aforementioned steep gradients, but the King’s Cross fire of 18th November 1987 was something else entirely. A discarded match or cigarette set fire to forty years’ worth of accumulated debris under one of the escalators in the Underground station. As a result of a hitherto unknown phenomenon called “the trench effect,” and the drafts caused by trains moving through the tunnels down below, this resulted in a conflagration that claimed the lives of thirty-one people. Subsequent to this, fire safety precautions on the Tube were drastically overhauled and smoking was banned altogether.

1997 saw the station achieve worldwide fame with the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in which Harry famously takes the Hogwarts Express from Platform Nine-And-Three-Quarters (although, as I’ve said before, it seems possible that J. K. Rowling was thinking of a different station altogether). In tribute to this, half a luggage trolley is stuck into the wall near the suburban platforms. There is no Platform 9¾ for us Muggles, alas, but as of 2010 there is a Platform 0, which frankly I find a little sinister.

I’ll say one thing for the modern railway, they have finally figured out that maybe a nice, user-friendly, aesthetically-pleasing station is what people want, and in 2005 plans were announced to restore the station. It was decided that nothing could be better than the 1972 extension, and therefore they are replacing it with nothing – it’s being demolished and turned into a plaza. The older buildings are being cleaned and patched up and a new, modern (in a good way) concourse is being put up to the west of the station.

The future is looking bright for Cubitt’s creation. All in all, it’s not been a bad life for an economy terminus.

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The Necropolitan Line

As I’ve said before, Waterloo Station is a bit of a sprawling mess. You’ve got the main station, then you’ve got the Underground station, then you’ve got Waterloo East, and then you’ve got the abandoned station – sorry, did I not mention the abandoned station until now? Well, now, that’s an interesting one.

Come out of Waterloo Station, on to Westminster Bridge Road, and you’ll the entrance to it, pictured left. If you get a train out of Waterloo heading towards Wimbledon, and you look outside of the left-hand window, you can see where the railway branched off the main line to serve this station.

So what was the point of this station? Why was it kept separate? Why was it abandoned? Well, the traffic this station was designed for was, how can I put this? One-way. This was the London terminus of the Brookwood Necropolis Railway, the first regular train service for the dead. Yes, it’s another entry on the thorny subject of death in London! Hurrah!

As I mentioned in the entries above, 19th century Londoners were rather preoccupied with the subject of death and burial – not out of some morbid streak (although there was that too), but out of practicality. The fina, once-and-for-all solution to the burial issue was proposed by Richard Sprye and Sir Richard Broun – the creation of a 500-acre site at Woking, out in leafy Surrey. This was to be the Brookwood Necropolis, and it was envisioned to not only take care of all London’s corpse-disposal needs at the time, but to provide dying space for the entire city, forever.

And so in 1852, the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company was set up – Broun and Sprye weren’t involved. However, the London and South Western Railway were. That company served Woking on their line to Portsmouth, and so they backed the concept on the grounds that they could make a pretty penny running funeral trains. Actually, they reckoned £40,000 a year was a sensible estimate.

The Necropolis was opened in 1854, despite objections from the people of Woking and Waterloo. The LSWR built a branch running off the main line into the cemetery, with two stations – one for those belonging to the Church of England and the other for Nonconformists. The station at Waterloo was originally built in York Road, a single-platform affair privately owned by the London Necropolis Company. The Lost Property office doesn’t bear thinking about.

The LSWR originally anticipated three trains each way, even building special hearse vans to carry the bodies (neatly side-stepping the question of whether they should be classed as passengers or freight). As it happened, they only ran one per day. Philosophers might claim that death is the Great Leveller, but railway executives think rather differently. Therefore, each train was divided into First, Second and Third Class segments, as well as separate accommodation for Anglicans and Nonconformists. And yes, the segregation by class was carried over into the hearse vans. I can’t speak for the Victorians, but it seems to me that if you’re in a position to worry about the class your coffin is riding as you make your way to your funeral, you probably have other things on your mind.

Waterloo Station was rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century, and that most terminal of termini was demolished to make way. The presently-surviving terminus at 121 Westminster Bridge Road was built in its place, larger than the old one to enable coffins to be loaded on to trains away from the eyes of the funeral party. It also incorporated state-of-the-art hydraulic lifts and fancy decor befitting this most solemn service. Not befitting the solemnity was the fact that railwaymen had bestowed the nickname of “The Stiffs Express” on the trains, one hopes out of earshot of mourners.

Oddly enough, though people in London were no closer to immortality, demand for the service dropped as the years went on, and by the 1930s there were only a couple of trains running per week. In 1941, a German bomb took out the station, and it was decided that it wasn’t worth rebuilding. The service was brought to an end, with funeral parties (and coffins) from then on travelling on regular trains to the main station at Brookwood.

Thus came to an end to what might have been the strangest train service in London. Perhaps the vision of Broun and Sprye was never quite realised as they had hoped, but at least some part of the old station survives. A monument to the deceased, as it were.


Filed under 19th century, 20th Century, Buildings and architecture, Commuter belt, History, London, London's Termini, Transport, Waterloo and Southwark

Going Postal

I’ve written about abandoned Underground stations before, and even entire abandoned lines beneath London’s streets. This one, however, is a real one-off. Whereas most of the abandoned spurs of the Tube were closed due to lack of passengers, this one never had any passengers at all. Despite this, it lasted seventy-six years. It ran through Central London and had eight stations. And it was never actually owned by London Transport.

Give up? Actually, some of you have probably already worked it out, and may allow yourselves a smug grin. I’m talking about the London Post Office Railway.

The London Post Office Railway was opened in 1927. It carried letters and parcels from Paddington in the west to the Whitechapel in the east. Its “stations” were sorting offices. At its peak, it was carrying over four million letters per day. Its trains were automatically controlled and electrically driven, operating for nineteen hours a day and 256 days a year.

It wasn’t the first such railway – it wasn’t even the first such railway in London, in fact. Inspiration came from the Chicago Tunnel Company’s freight-only subway system. Like the Post Office Railway, this was narrow gauge and electrically powered, opening in 1906. Yet while this was the most obvious source of inspiration, even this was a whippersnapper compared to London’s first post office Tubes.

The very, very first experimental postal railway was a short line in Battersea, built in 1861 and shown right. It was air-powered, built by the Pneumatic Despatch Company. The experiment was a success. The Post Office, fearing competition from the increasingly popular telegraph service, expressed a strong interest, as did the London and North Western Railway. The first “proper” line was opened on 15th January 1863 – just five days after the Metropolitan Railway, the first underground passenger line – and ran from the LNWR’s Euston Station to the North West District Sorting Office. This was later extended to Holborn and later Cheapside and Gresham Street. The company had grand plans for an entire network of lines under the city, but as it happened, despite very favourable rates, the Post Office weren’t all that interested after all. The system went bust in 1875. At least one of the knee-high carriages survives in the Museum of London’s collection and the tunnels are now used for cables.

I’ve mentioned before that gridlock in the city is nothing new, and in the early years of the twentieth century this prompted the Post Office to take another look at the underground railway idea. Approval was given in 1911, construction began in 1915 and the system was open in time for Christmas 1927. As well as Paddington and the Eastern District Post Office in Whitechapel, the six-and-a-half-mile-long line called at six intermediate stops, including Liverpool Street station and the main sorting office at Mount Pleasant in Clerkenwell. The trains, if you can call them that, were stored and maintained at a depot under Mount Pleasant.

[PARENTHESIS: Mount Pleasant actually sounds like a rather pleasant place. In reality, the name derives from heaps of industrial waste on the banks of the River Fleet. This is the famous British sense of irony at work]

1930-built train, preserved at the National Railway Museum in York.

The railway, as I said earlier, was a great success, reaching its peak after the Second World War. Extensions serving Euston, King’s Cross, Camden, Islington, Waterloo, Southwark, Cannon Street and latterly Willesden were proposed but never constructed. It kept going through the War, despite one direct hit at Mount Pleasant in 1943, and like so many other Tube lines, served as an air raid shelter (albeit one used only by staff).

"What'll I tell the wife, Jess?"

The post office, ‘lack the day, isn’t exactly the most hip and with-it service, and with the coming of the Information Age had to make a few changes. This included cutting many post offices, several sorting offices and Postman Pat. I’m not joking about that last one, by the way. The Post Office used to sponsor Postman Pat, it doesn’t any more and in the most recent series he no longer works for them. As you can see in the above picture, he is a victim of red tape.

As a result of the cuts, by the late 1990s there were only four stations left on the Post Office Railway. The Post Office dynamically responded by renaming the system “Mail Rail” in 1997. In 2003, when it was decided that the Paddington sorting office would be moved, Royal Mail threw up their hands and decided to close the damn railway once and for all. There were protests of mismanagement from the Communication Workers’ Union, who argued that the line wouldn’t be so expensive to run if it was properly maintained and used to its full capacity. Nevertheless, it was decided that the post would go by road, which was cheaper. So on 30th May, it rattled off into the history books. It may be relevant to note that this was also the year when post trains disappeared from national rail.

Although the line was never as well-known or glamorous as its passenger-carrying chums, it’s had a couple of moments in the sun. In 1997, it was used in the BBC fantasy series Neverwhere (along with various other nooks and crannies of subterrainean London) and in 1990 it posed as a Vatican line in the flop movie Hudson Hawk, making Bruce Willis one of its fewpassengers. I’m told the latter film is alright if you suspend your disbelief, lower your expectations and have a sense of humour about it – beer helps.

A few of the trains have been preserved. The tunnels have been mothballed. Every so often someone suggests a use for them – while they’re very unlikely to ever see use for post again, they could conceivably be used for goods traffic. One idea is that they might be used for valuable or perishable items. I’ve even heard it suggested that it might be used for passengers, but this idea is frankly barmy – the trains were barely wide enough for one person, let alone enough for the line to pay its way, and rebuilding seems a little pointless given the extent of work needed. I fear that the London Post Office Railway is destined to remain one of those abandoned curiosities beneath our feet. Still, we can hope…

Further Reading – Excellent fan site from which I got much of the information in this entry. Not updated since the line’s closure, sadly, but otherwise very comprehensive.


Filed under 19th century, 20th Century, East End and Docklands, Film and TV, Geography, History, Islington, Kings Cross, London, london bridge, London Underground, London's Termini, Politics, The City, Transport, Waterloo and Southwark, West End

Hogwash Express

Isn’t that new Harry Potter movie coming out soon? I’m sure it is. Well, you know what? I think that calls for a vaguely Potter-themed entry.

As you can see from the slightly murky picture on the left, I found myself standing next to the Hogwarts Express yesterday. The locomotive of this train is currently residing at the National Railway Museum in York.

The Hogwarts Express is one of the icons of the Harry Potter franchise, which just goes to show that actually, steam engines are pretty cool. Plot-wise, it functions as a handy place where lots of characters can be brought together for several hours – it was here that many of the significant characters of the series were introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I believe I’ve mentioned before that Leo Tolstoy considered railways to be a useful plot device because they enabled coincidences, and this was his inspiration for Anna Karenina. Well, J. K. Rowling makes the Hogwarts Express perform a similar function.

The Express appears to be inspired by the school specials that used to be run in Britain at the start and end of term. Some of the larger schools would charter a special train. Sadly, they wouldn’t have been as colourful as the Hogwarts Express – the train would be whatever the railway had that was suitable. I’m not sure when this traffic was phased out, but I’m guessing during the days when Britain’s railways were nationalised.

As everyone knows, the Hogwarts Express sets out from Platform Nine-And-Three-Quarters at King’s Cross Station. As Hogwarts is located in Scotland, King’s Cross is an appropriate departure point – this was (and technically still is) where the famous Flying Scotsman set off from. Oddly enough, though, Rowling has admitted that she didn’t actually intend to send the train off from King’s Cross at all – she actually had Euston in mind. That being said, King’s Cross is much more photogenic than the terminally bland Euston. Even so, for shots of the outside of the station, the first film used St Pancras – don’t get me wrong, I like St Pancras fine, but I think King’s Cross is hugely underrated in architectural terms.

The station has adapted to its relatively new-found fame by sticking half a luggage trolley into a wall. There’s usually a queue of tourists wanting to be photographed next to it. The Catlady said that she once found herself acting as a guide to a Japanese exchange student, and one of the first sights he wanted to see was the station.If you’re curious, the station used for Hogsmeade was Goathland on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Coincidentally, this station also represented Aidensfield in Heartbeat. The Scottish scenes are filmed on the West Highland Line, one of the most scenically beautiful railways in Britain in Yr. Humble Chronicler’s opinion. That rather creepy scene in The Prisoner of Azkaban where the Dementors stop the train took place on the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

The Hogwarts Railways logo is a parody of the British Railways logo.

So much for the railway, what about the train? Well, this is something that, prior to the release of the film, caused a certain amount of speculation in railway enthusiast circles. The fact that the train departed from King’s Cross and that Hermione mentions going to speak to the driver in the first book suggested that it was an engine with a corridor tender.

The corridor tender, an example of which is seen right, was invented by the London and North Eastern Railway for the Flying Scotsman service from King’s Cross. Tenders are used on large locomotives to hold coal and water, and hinder access to the cab. The corridor tender allowed this access, which was vital on long, non-stop journeys to allow the crew to change over. The LNER paired their most prestigious express engines with these.
For promotional events, the locomotive Taw Valley (right) was used. Normally green, it was repainted red. This caused mixed reactions in the railway enthusiast camp, although man (Yr. Humble Chronicler included) thought it looked rather good in red.
For the films, though, Chris Columbus selected Olton Hall, an engine belonging to the West Coast Railway Company. The Halls, like all engines built by the Great Western Railway, had a sort of Victorian look that fitted in very well with the general aesthetic of the series. All were named after halls of various descriptions. They were very capable locomotives, equally able to deal with passengers and goods, and were used all over the GWR network. Olton Hall, having been plucked from the chorus, again underwent a repaint from green to red,and gained the name Hogwarts Castle. West Coast Railways did try to persuade the film makers to go with an appropriate Hall name (Great Hall, perhaps?), as Castle names were historically reserved for the GWR’s larger Castle class. I find it a little odd that people can deal with a magic steam train travelling unseen from a hidden platform to a giant castle in Scotland but not that the owners might have given said steam train an inappropriate name, but there you go.
And as you might expect, there were cries that the engine had been “disfigured” by its red livery and it was un-historic and bawwwww. Personally, I think this argument is a lot of old hogwash, for the following reasons:
1. The Hall class, as vintage steam engines go, is quite common – eleven survive. One, Maindy Hall, is even being rebuilt to represent a different class of locomotive. Take issue with those guys.
2. As an engine that will be seen by millions of non-rail enthusiasts, Hogwarts Castle is a far more valuable ambassador to the railway preservation movement than Olton Hall.
3. It’s not disfigured, it has temporary nameplates added and a new coat of paint. Get over yourselves.
hogwarts express
Like it or not, the Hogwarts Express would appear to be here to stay. Tomorrow I’m told it’s off to Carnforth, so I suppose it’s not all fun and games.

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Filed under Arts, Buildings and architecture, Current events, Film and TV, Geography, History, Kings Cross, Literature, London's Termini, Only loosely about London, Photos, Transport

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Honestly, you’d think the landowners of London don’t even read this blog. Check this out:

Yes, like Portobello Road, Borough Market is being threatened by its owners’ desire for all that glitters. It’s bad enough that part of this gorgeously Dickensian corner of the city has been demolished to make way for the expansion of the viaduct into Cannon Street (it’s a lost cause – Cannon Street is a shadow of what it once was thank you British Rail) without its owners getting all snobby.

Borough Market is one of those open secrets of the city – not a tourist trap like Portobello or Camden, but well-known to those familiar with London for its excellent wholesale food and drink. Architecturally it has a real Victorian charm about it – it was used as a location in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban. I had a wander around there just the other day, having arrived half an hour early at London Bridge.

The genericisation of London’s markets is a worrying trend. Is genericisation a word? I don’t know. I’m tired.


Filed under 19th century, Buildings and architecture, Current events, Fashion and trends, Film and TV, Food, London, london bridge, London's Termini, Markets, Politics, Shopping, Waterloo and Southwark

Seen at Waterloo

The new signs at Waterloo are very helpful. I particularly like the one on the right – suicide can be very difficult, so this how-to guide should be very useful to the terminally depressed.

Also the guy in the wheelchair jumping over a giant P is pretty cool, although I didn’t see that while I was there.

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