Tag Archives: London underground

The Greenground

After Tuesday’s post, today with a new more gentle tenor CabbieBlog explores a Tube map of parks and how to get between them.

Living on the north-east margins of London with Havering Country Park’s 165 acres a mere 5-minute stroll away the countryside isn’t far away.

The park has an avenue of Wellingtonia trees, dating to when the Havering manor was still present, and are the second largest plantation in the country. It also is on the route of the London Outer Orbital Path, or London LOOP, with sections 20-24 linking the many green spaces on my doorstep.

Given that I was delighted to find a ‘tube map’ showing the parks of London, joined together in ways you might want to walk.

Graphic designer Helen Ilus has designed a verdant version of Harry Beck’s classic Tube map.

The ‘Greenground’ contains eight themed lines: the Thames, Crane, Wandle, Regent (as in the canal), Royal, South, City and North. Places, where you might like to swim, kayak or just walk, are marked.

The map has around 300 parks and open spaces that are remarkably only 10 per cent of the 3,000 parks and green spaces to be found in London.

The map was originally inspired by the London National Park City movement which officially declared London as the first National Park City.

Helen has decided that it is not practical to include all green spaces to one legible map, and intends to produce more detailed local versions.

The map isn’t intended as a detailed navigational aid, but more as an inspiring prompt to encourage exploration.

I look forward to seeing Helen’s take Havering-Atte-Bower as a detailed mini-map.

Helen Ilus can be found here.

Is this London’s first nimby?

How devious have you to be when an American banker describes your actions as “the greatest rascality and conspiracy ever heard of”? This was directed at Charles Tyson Yerkes by the founder of the bank J. P. Morgan.

[Y]ERKES (serendipitously pronounced like ‘turkeys’) had served time in his native Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary for larceny and embezzlement before he left the United States, leaving behind his creditors to pick up the pieces from his many failed ventures. One of which was the control of Chicago’s rail network for which he had been nicknamed ’The streetcar Czar of Chicago’.

On seeing the rapid expansion of London’s Tube network he resolved to turn his hand to the same complex and questionable deals he had practised in America. Astoundingly before long, he found himself in control of the failing Metropolitan District Railway, the half-built Bakerloo, and the as-yet unbuilt Piccadilly Lines.

But it was the extension of the Northern Line – the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead – that Yerkes was to meet his nemesis in the shape of a middle-class social reformer – Dame Henrietta Octavia Weston Barnett.

Dubious proposals

Despite fierce local opposition to the proposal, Yerkes won the Parliamentary permission he needed for his ambitious, if not dubious scheme, he had after all in the past had his 33-month sentence in the slammer reduced to 7 after threatening to blackmail a number of powerful, influential Pennsylvanian political bigwigs.

Having raised the necessary funds Yerks started tunnelling, with the intention of constructing a station close to the Bull and Bush pub in North End Road the station was to be named North End.

His plan was to use investor’s money to build the railway line and the station and then develop the surrounding farmland around his station into the street after street of gleaming new houses – all built by him of course – the residents using his station on their commute to work.

Charles Tyson Yerkes Yerks had seriously underestimated the English middle class. Henrietta who a few years ago had acquired Evergreen Hill as a weekend home at Spaniard’s End really didn’t want Yerkes’s ghastly new homes on her patch. She wasn’t short of a bob or two either and while Yerkes was busying himself with underground excavations, she established a trust which bought 243 acres of prime real estate around ‘North End’ and incorporated it into Hampstead Heath.

A white elephant

It was a strategic fait accompli, Yerkes could continue to tunnel until he was blue in the face but without permission to develop above ground, his grand scheme suddenly became a white elephant and in 1906 work on the new station stopped.

By the time the line was opened North End had already been bricked up to spare everybody’s blushes. The new trains rattled past, oblivious to the abandoned platforms.

Much of the land which Yerkes was denied developing became the Hampstead Garden Suburb, a model garden city which no doubt attracted the sort of people that Henrietta did approve of to be her neighbours.

While there are 43 other ‘ghost’ or disused stations on the Underground network North End holds the dubious distinction of being the only one built that never actually saw active service. Or a single passenger.

The Tube’s deepest station

It does, however, boast one tenuous claim to fame, at 221 feet below ground, North End would have been the Tube’s deepest station but for Barnett’s intervention, rather than a vast underground void.

The renamed ‘Bull and Bush’ ghost station remains in its pristine unused state. Unfortunately, it is closed to the general public. But one lucky person Hywel Williams on his excellent site Underground History gives an account of his visit.

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 27th December 2013

London’s First Nimby

How devious have you to be when an American banker describes your actions as “the greatest rascality and conspiracy ever heard of”? This criticism was directed at Charles Tyson Yerkes by the founder of a bank recently fined a record $13 billion – J. P. Morgan.

Yerkes (serendipitously pronounced like ‘turkeys’) had served time in his native Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary for larceny and embezzlement before he left the United States, leaving behind his creditors to pick up the pieces from his many failed ventures. One of which was the control of Chicago’s rail network for which he had been nicknamed ’The streetcar Czar of Chicago’.

[O]n seeing the rapid expansion of London’s Tube network he resolved to turn his hand to the same complex and questionable deals he had practiced in America. Astoundingly before long he found himself in control of the failing Metropolitan District Railway, the half-built Bakerloo, and the as-yet unbuilt Piccadilly Lines.

But it was the extension of the Northern Line – the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead – that Yerkes was to meet his nemesis in the shape of a middle class social reformer – Dame Henrietta Octavia Weston Barnett.

Despite fierce local opposition to the proposal, Yerkes won the Parliamentary permission he needed for his ambitious, if not dubious scheme, he had after all in the past had his 33 month sentence in the slammer reduced to 7 after threatening to blackmail a number of powerful, influential Pennsylvanian political bigwigs.

Having raised the necessary funds Yerks started tunnelling, with the intention of constructing a station close to the Bull and Bush pub in North End Road the station was to be named North End.

His plan was to use investor’s money to build the railway line and the station and then develop the surrounding farmland around his station into street after street of gleaming new houses – all built by him of course – the residents using his station on their commute to work.

Charles Tyson Yerkes Yerks had seriously underestimated the English middle class. Henrietta who a few years ago had acquired Evergreen Hill as a weekend home at Spaniard’s End really didn’t want Yerkes’s ghastly new homes on her patch. She wasn’t short of a bob or two either and while Yerkes was busying himself with underground excavations, she established a trust which bought 243 acres of prime real estate around ‘North End’ and incorporated it into Hampstead Heath.

It was a strategic fait accompli, Yerkes could continue to tunnel until he was blue in the face but without permission to develop above ground, his grand scheme suddenly became a white elephant and in 1906 work on the new station stopped.

By the time the line was opened North End had already been bricked up to spare everybody’s blushes. The new trains rattled past, oblivious to the abandoned platforms.

Much of the land which Yerkes was denied developing became the Hampstead Garden Suburb, a model garden city which no doubt attracted the sort of people that Henrietta did approve of to be her neighbours.

While there are 43 other ‘ghost’ or disused stations on the Underground network North End holds the dubious distinction of being the only one built that never actually saw active service. Or a single passenger.

If does, however, boast one tenuous claim to fame, at 221 feet below ground, North End would have been the Tube’s deepest station but for Barnett’s intervention, rather than a vast underground void.

The renamed ‘Bull and Bush’ ghost station remains in its pristine unused state. Unfortunately it is closed to the general public. But one lucky person Hywel Williams on his excellent site Underground History gives an account of his visit.

Royal pub crawl

Henry VIII wine cellar

Whitehall, which incidentally is the widest road in central London, takes its name from the palace which once stood on the site. The main residence of English monarchs from 1530 until it burnt down in 1698, it was at the time the largest palace in Europe with over 2,000 rooms and 23 acres of grounds.

All that survives to this day is Inigo Jones’ Banqueting House with its ceiling pained by Rubens, which is one of the last things Charles I saw before being led out of one of the buildings upper floor windows to a newly erected platform to have his head removed; the gable wall of Henry VIII’s tennis court set now within the Cabinet Office (if you wish to see an intact Tudor tennis court go to Hampton Court); and below ground Henry VIII’s wine room.

[O]riginally built by Cardinal Wolsey when Lord Chancellor, Henry wasted no time when Wolsey fell from the King’s favour by requisitioning his well-stocked wine room. This 70ft by 30ft building once stood above ground, at the point that today’s Emmanuel Vincent Harris designed Ministry of Defence building now stands. All there is left to see above ground is the steps on the green between the MoD building and the Thames. Now called Queen Anne’s steps these might have been used to take the barrels of wine from boats moored nearby to be loaded into the wine room.

When the MoD building was proposed in the early 1950s the news that the cellar was to be destroyed caused a public uproar. Encased in a steel frame designed by ingenious engineers, the room was literally inched (a quarter of an inch at a time) 9ft north-west and 19ft down to create what it should have always have been a wine cellar.

Accessed via drab corridors and downstairs into a murky chamber lined with heating pipes, this gem with its Tudor vaulting, pillars and original brickwork is now only used as a backdrop for Ministry parties. The wine barrels lining the walls are only used for cosmetic purposes. Heavily guarded guided tours are available to groups only