L ND N

 Saturday, May 01, 2004

Silver Jubilee - May 1st 1979

It's exactly 25 years since London Underground's Jubilee line opened, on Tuesday 1st May 1979. Prince Charles made the very first journey, the day before, travelling one stop from Green Park to Charing Cross then riding a special train all the way back up the line to Stanmore. To celebrate the silver jubilee of the silver-coloured Jubilee line I'm taking a virtual journey along the line, station by station from Stanmore to Stratford.

The Jubilee line runs through some of London's oldest tube stations, but also through the newest. The line developed in a number of stages, first as part of the Metropolitan railway, then as part of the Bakerloo line, then as what was due to be called the Fleet line, and finally along the Jubilee line extension through Docklands. The Jubilee line follows a single path with no branches or junctions, although it's a very wiggly and indirect route. This is also the only London Underground line to link with every other. Let me run through the line's history with you (and if you need a map to follow, try here):

1868: The Metropolitan & St John's Wood Railway opens between Baker Street and Swiss Cottage, five years after the opening of London's very first Underground railway.
1879: The line is extended to West Hampstead and, the following year, as far as Harrow.
1880s onwards: The Metropolitan Railway purchases lots of land for housing alongside the line - Metroland is born.
1932: The branch line from Wembley Park to Stanmore is opened.
1939: The Stanmore branch, and all local services between Wembley Park and Baker Street, are transferred from the Metropolitan line to the Bakerloo line. Trains run through new tunnels between Finchley Road and Baker Street, and on to Elephant & Castle.
1940s to 1960s: There are several plans for a new NW-SE tube line to relieve congestion on the Bakerloo line. None proceed.
1971: Royal Assent is finally given to construction of the Fleet line from Baker Street to Lewisham.
1972: Work begins building new tunnels from Baker Street to Bond Street, Green Park and Charing Cross. But no further.
1977: The new Conservative administration at the GLC decrees that the Fleet line will be renamed the Jubilee line, in honour of the Queen's silver jubilee.
May 1st 1979: The Jubilee line opens, taking over the Bakerloo line tracks between Stanmore and Baker Street, then running on through new tunnels to Charing Cross.
1999 The Jubilee line is extended from Green Park to Stratford, including some award-winning civil engineering and station architecture.

So, come take a ride with me down the silver Jubilee line. It only takes an hour to travel the whole line from end to end, a total of 24 miles. The route passes from leafy suburbia to West End bustle, from the seat of government to the heart of Docklands, and from the 1948 Olympic Stadium to (possibly) the site for 2012. Climb aboard one of those tiny tube trains with the special whining engine, mind the huge doors along the platform edge, and let's be off. The next station is.... Stanmore.

Jubilee links
Jubilee line history
Jubilee line photos
Jubilee line bloggers
Jubilee line pub crawl
More on the Jubilee line extension later in the month

Silver Jubilee: Stanmore
Opened: Saturday 10th December 1932
Location: London Borough of Harrow, zone 5
Photo shows: Stanmore station, the end of the line.
Branch history: The 2½ mile Stanmore branch was opened by the Metropolitan Railway in December 1932, but became the property of the newly created London Passenger Transport Board a few months after opening. The branch transferred from the Metropolitan line to the Bakerloo line in 1939, then transferred again to the Jubilee line on 1st May 1979 (exactly 25 years ago today).
Fact file: There are 10 sidings right beside the station. There are tubs of heather and (now dead) daffodils on the platform. Stanmore is the only station on the 'old' part of the Jubilee line with step-free access to both platforms.
5 things I found outside the station: a small green stall selling flowers, some slatted wooden benches, a pedestrian crossing, a big tube sign on a blue pillar, the Green Belt (the line stops right on the edge of London - a few hundred metres further on and you're in the countryside),
Nearby: suburbia, the Broadway (Stanmore's main shopping street), Madison's Deli (selling hot salt beef), a sizeable Jewish population, the footbridge over the line from which I took yesterday's first photo.
Local history: Stanmore takes its name from 'Stony mere' and was the site of the ancient Roman settlement of Sullmoniacae. Julius Caesar may have fought against the local Celts right here during his second invasion of Britain in 54 BC, or maybe not. Local legend has it that the final Roman battle against Boudicca took place on Stanmore Common. Loads of local history here.

Silver Jubilee: Canons Park
Opened: Saturday 10th December 1932
Distance from previous station: 1.4 km (and the journey sounds like this - possibly my anorakiest link ever)
Platform: exit to the left of the train
Fact file: The station was originally called Canons Park (Edgware), but the name has never included an apostrophe. I doubt that Lynne Truss lives around here.
5 things I found outside the station: a very short green cycle path, Canons Park Motors (operating from three arches underneath the station), Eddy's kebab shop, Hearts & Flowers florists, the number 79 bus.
Nearby: nondescript suburbia, Canons Park (an impressively green open space, frequented by joggers, dogwalkers and bluebells) and the DVLA offices from which NW London car registrations LK-LT are issued.
Local history: The area gets its name because six acres of land here were given to the canons of St Bartholemew's Priory, Smithfield, in 1331. The Duke of Chandos built a posh mansion here in the 17th century and called it Canons. The estate was sold off for housing development in the late 1920s, as was most of the rest of the surrounding area. Sorry, Canons Park's not the thrillingest of places.

Silver Jubilee: Queensbury
Opened: Sunday 16th December 1934
Distance from previous station: 1.7 km
You are now entering: the London borough of Brent, zone 4
Platform: exit to the left of the train
Photo shows: Queensbury Circus, a giant green roundabout outside the station. Enjoy a 360º view here, courtesy of Jag.
Fact file: The name Queensbury was chosen as the result of a competition organised by a local estate agent, the winning name blatantly echoing the nearby village of Kingsbury. Thus the local area was named after the station rather than the station being named after the local area. Queensbury opened two years later than its neighbouring stations, once a few houses had actually been built here.
5 things I found outside the station: Queensbury Circus, Hunter & Hunter estate agents, some bicycles chained to the railings, Joe's Bake & Bite, three levels of flats built above the station entrance.
Local history: The de Havilland Aircraft Company was based nearby at Stag Lane Airfield. The first Gypsy Moth biplane first flew from here in 1925, with Tiger Moths following soon afterwards. The grass landing strip closed in 1934, with production moved to larger facilities in Hatfield, after which Stag Lane concentrated on engine production.


Silver Jubilee: Kingsbury
Opened: Saturday 10th December 1932
Distance from previous station: 1.3 km
Platform: exit to the left of the train
Fact file: The station was designed by C W Clark (as were the previous three, and as was the station in Croxley where I grew up). Standing on the tree-lined platform amidst the birdsong you'd think you were in the middle of the countryside, not in the middle of built-up London with a busy high street outside.
5 things I found outside the station: A sign saying 'humps for 350 yards', a lot of local shops, a machine selling parking tickets, Jyoti Jewellers, a yellow box junction.
Local history: Jag posted a whole history of Kingsbury last year, go read.
Local history (abridged): The area has a history stretching back over 1000 years, recorded as Kynes byrig in 1046 when the local manor was granted to Westminster Abbey by Edward the Confessor. Kingsbury grew hugely in the 1920s and 1930s thanks to the aircraft industry, the British Empire exhibition and the coming of the railway. John Logie Baird carried out the first combined sight and sound television transmission in 1930, live from from the stable block at Kingsbury Manor.
Local blog: Jag's ever-excellent Route 79.

Silver Jubilee: Wembley Park
Opened: Saturday 12th May 1894
Distance from previous station: 2.8 km
Platform: exit to the left of the train
Change here for: Metropolitan line
You'd be quicker changing here: From here to Finchley Road by Jubilee line takes 12 minutes. From here to Finchley Road by Metropolitan line takes 8 minutes.
Photo shows: The northern end of Olympic Way, built to funnel sports fans under the bridge and up the wide staircase into Wembley Park station.
5 things I found outside the station: a pelican crossing, that huge extra entrance/exit for use on days when there's a big event nearby, the College of Northwest London, Olympic Way, a big sign pointing towards 'Stadium tours' (unlikely at present).
Nearby: Wembley Stadium (see below), a giant light industrial estate and retail park, Wembley Arena, a few crumbling remains of the British Empire Exhibition, the river Brent (I have never, ever, walked through so many flies).
The future: Wembley Park station currently looks like this. There are plans to redevelop it to look like this.


A brief (clickable) history of Wembley Stadium

Anglo-Saxon times: 'Wembalea' means 'Wemba's forest clearing'.
16th century: Wembley is a small village on a hill, owned by the Page family.
1870: The Pages hire landscape architect Humphrey Repton to create Wembley Park.
1880: The Metropolitan railway passes through Wembley, without stopping.
1890: Wembley Park is sold to the Managing Director of the Metropolitan Railway, Edward Watkin. He plans to build a 1150ft tower on the site in an attempt to rival the success of the recently-opened Eiffel Tower in Paris.
1894: Wembley Park station opens, serving Wembley Park Leisure Grounds. Attractions include a large funfair, football pitches and an artificial lake.
1896: The first stage of Watkin's Tower is completed and opened to the public The tower's foundations shift under the weight of the iron structure above, and construction stops at 200ft.
1902: Watkin's Folly (as it's now known) is closed to the public and later demolished (1907), although Wembley remains a popular recreational destination.
1920: Wembley is selected as the site of the British Empire Exhibition, with a new stadium to be built on the site of Watkin's Folly.
1923: The Empire Stadium is opened by King George V and hosts its first FA Cup Final (Bolton 2, West Ham 0)
1924: Wembley Stadium is the centrepiece of the British Empire Exhibition, a post-war celebration of all things imperial.
1925: The Empire exhibition closes, having lost a lot of money. Almost all of the buildings are demolished, except for the stadium.
1948: Wembley Stadium hosts the 14th Olympic Games. Olympic Way is built to link the stadium with the station.
1966: Wembley hosts the World Cup Final. They think it's all over, it is now.
1985: The Live Aid concert held at Wembley raises millions for the starving of Africa.
1996: Wembley is the preferred location for a new National Stadium. Maybe (1997). Definitely (1998). Probably not (1999). Delayed indefinitely (2000). Looking grim (2001). Go ahead (2002).
2000: Final Cup Final at old Wembley won by Chelsea. Final match at old Wembley won by Germany.
2003: The famous twin towers are demolished.
2004: I stop by at the building site to view the latest Wembley folly. The new stadium is going up very slowly, with the new arch still barely evident. This could be a new shopping mall under construction for all any visitor could deduce. Ten lofty cranes stand guard over the growing arena like giant grey flamingos. A couple of skateboarders enjoy the desolate freedom of one of the car parks. Heavenly Hotdogs and Frank's Frankfurters are boarded up, awaiting redevelopment. For a few brief years, Wembley is enjoying complete anonymity.
2006: The new (incredibly expensive) Wembley Stadium is due to open. Keep an eye on current progress here. I'll believe it when I see it.

Silver Jubilee: Neasden
Opened: Monday 2nd August 1880
Distance from previous station: 2.3 km
You are now entering: zone 3
Platform: exit to the right of the train
Station originally called: Kingsbury & Neasden
Fact file (1): Three railway lines (Jubilee, Metropolitan and Chiltern) run through Neasden (and the next four stations too), but only the Jubilee line trains stop.
Fact file (2): Just north of Neasden station lies Neasden Railway Depot, a vast shed with space to store 37 trains overnight. The Jubilee line Control Room is located in Neasden (take a tour here), and they have a Jubilee train simulator too (here).
5 things I found outside the station: a pelican crossing, two giant billboards, Falcon Park RNIB centre, Adrian's Newsagent (a tiny kiosk), a pedestrian sign pointing towards 'Neasden Temple & Superstore' (I hope that's two different places).
Nearby (1): Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, the huge Hindu temple off the North Circular Road. Devoted pilgrims come from miles around to pay their respects. Now that Wembley Stadium's been pulled down, this exotic landmark has the only towers and pinnacles on the local skyline.


Silver Jubilee: Dollis Hill
Opened: Friday 1st October 1909
Distance from previous station: 850m
Platform: exit to the right of the train
Fact file: There's no station building as such, just a ticket hall under the platform with two subways leading off in opposite directions beneath the tracks. A bronze plaque at the top of the station steps commemorates 'Timothy Desmond, employed at Dollis Hill 1965-1995.' What a life.
5 things I found outside the station: a 'Dollis Hill' mural, belisha beacons, a big tube sign on a brick column, wide avenues of suburban semis, a parade of shops.
Nearby: more endless suburban semis, Dollis Hill House (home to Lord and Lady Aberdeen in the 1880s and 90s), Gladstone Park (a pleasantly contoured woodland vista).
Local history: Victorian PM William Gladstone was a regular visitor at Dollis Hill House, so they named the new park after him. Mark Twain stayed here throughout the summer of 1900, saying "Dollis Hill comes nearer to being a paradise than any other home I ever occupied." Until 1982 all the UK's coin-operated telephones were made in Dollis Hill. More local history here.
Local underground secrets: In the late 1930s the Government built a huge underground bunker in Dollis Hill. It was codenamed 'Paddock', a two-level concrete citadel planned as a standby to the Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall. The War Cabinet met here only twice because Churchill hated the place (and because Hitler never invaded). A housing association now owns the site, and opens the bunker to the public on only two days a year (bugger, one of them was yesterday). Read more about the fascinating secret life of Paddock here, here, here, here, here and here.
Nearby (2): IKEA, the huge Swedish temple off the North Circular Road. Devoted shoppers come from miles around to buy their cheap household goods. Now that Wembley isn't the shopping mecca it used to be, this big blue warehouse is the only retail magnet in the local area.
Everywhere: The North Circular Road came to Neasden in the 1930s. It cuts through the area like an open concrete wound. Dual carriageways, underpasses and roundabouts are everywhere, clogged by traffic and making pedestrian life a daily challenge.
Local history: Neasden means 'nose-shaped hill' in Anglo-Saxon. In the 1850s the local population was only 110, but soon rocketed to become a dead ordinary London suburb (as mocked by Private Eye, published nearby). Twiggy grew up on the St Raphael's Estate and the area was also home to Mari Wilson, Neasden's Queen of Soul. Local history is chronicled at the Grange Museum, an unlikely building quarantined in the middle of a busy roundabout.

Silver Jubilee: Willesden Green
Opened: Monday 24th November 1879
Distance from previous station: 1.2 km
You are now entering: zone 2
Platform: exit to the right of the train
5 things I found outside the station: a yellow plastic box full of grit, Camerons Stiff estate agents (giggle), 10 piles of free magazines (mostly expat related), Dynamic dry cleaners, lots of laminated Wanted For Murder police posters.
Nearby: Cricklewood
Local history: Willesden has, over its 1000-year history, been known as Wellesdone, Willesdone, Willesdune and Wilsdon. The modern spelling is that chosen by the London & Birmingham Railway in the 1840s. Nothing really interesting seems to have happened round here, ever, but some of the less interesting stuff is here. The local history society meets regularly, so there must be something to talk about. Ray Davies of the Kinks liked the place enough to write a song about it.
Local blog: The Willesden Herald


Silver Jubilee: Kilburn
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 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.
Local blogs: Here's a trio of darned good ones. Sashinka, Blogjam and, unexpectedly, this one (which I'll return to in three stations time).


Silver Jubilee: West Hampstead
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.
Local history: Here's a history of Hampstead, very little of which happened in West Hampstead.
Local blogs: The arty Rodcorp, the erudite Mo Morgan and the very honest Honestly I'm Sober.


Silver Jubilee: Finchley Road
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.

Silver Jubilee: Swiss Cottage
Opened: Monday 20th November 1939
Distance from previous station: 600m
Photo shows: the elegant 30s escalator, complete with uplighters.
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. You want disused stations, you want this website. Or this one.
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.
Local blogs: Swish Cottage (ah, those were the days) and Rogue Semiotics.


Silver Jubilee: St John's Wood
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 Abbey Road Café (it's tiny, but it has an informative website), 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'.


Silver Jubilee: Baker Street
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. More photos here.
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.

Silver Jubilee: Bond Street
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. Click to view a 3D subterranean artist's impression of the rebuilt Bond Street station (back in the mid 70s when the Jubilee line was due to be called the Fleet line).
5 things I found outside the station: bustling Oxford Street, the West One shopping centre, bureaux de change, loads of people, this view.
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 a 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 rich snobs luxury. Full history here.


Silver Jubilee: Green Park
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. For a stunningly detailed description of the station, try here (a great site for partially-sighted travellers).
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.
Local history: I'll save that, if you don't mind, for later in the year...

Silver Jubilee: Charing Cross
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: This is complicated, see below.
Fact file: London's most recently abandoned tube station. This 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.


A comprehensive history of Charing Cross underground station

It's surprisingly complicated this, so do follow closely. There are four separate station locations round here, which I'll label (down by the river), (outside the mainline station), (beneath Trafalgar Square) and (up Aldwych). If you click here and scroll down to 'Bakerloo line' you can follow all this on a map. For another explanation of the whole renaming mess, click here.


1870: A District line station opens on the Embankment to the south of Charing Cross mainline station, and is named Charing Cross.
1906: A Bakerloo line station opens beneath Charing Cross District line station, but is called Embankment instead. Another Bakerloo line station opens 350 metres northwest at Trafalgar Square.
1907: The Northern line opens, terminating just north of the mainline station at a station called Charing Cross♣. Meanwhile the Piccadilly line opens a branch from Holborn to Strand.
1914: The Northern line is extended 250 metres southwards from Charing Cross♣ to join the Bakerloo line at Embankment station, which is renamed Charing Cross (Embankment). Meanwhile Charing Cross♣ is renamed Charing Cross (Strand)♣.
1915: Charing Cross (Embankment) is renamed Charing Cross, and Charing Cross (Strand) is renamed Strand♣. Meanwhile the old Strand station is renamed Aldwych.
(deep breath, here comes the Jubilee line)
1973: Strand♣ station on the Northern line is closed to prepare for the arrival of the new Fleet Jubilee line.
1974: Charing Cross station is renamed Charing Cross Embankment.
1976: Charing Cross Embankment is renamed Embankment (and so it remains).
1979: The Jubilee line opens. It terminates at a newly-enlarged Charing Cross♣ station, linking the old Bakerloo♠ and Northern♣ line stations. The Bakerloo line platforms are renamed Charing Cross (for Trafalgar Square). The Jubilee line tunnels continue almost as far as Aldwych, because this is expected to be the next station when the line is extended further...
1994: ...but no, Aldwych station is closed instead (read about the now-disused station here and here).
1999: The Jubilee line extension from Green Park to Stratford is opened, and the 20 year-old tunnels from Green Park to Charing Cross♣ are closed (see photos here).
2004: Charing Cross♣ station still feels like two stations joined by a very long subway, so if you want to save yourself a long walk you should change between the Bakerloo♠ and Northern♣ lines at Embankment instead.

The Jubilee line extension May 1999

When the Jubilee line was opened 25 years ago, it was always intended that it would be extended further. The line was meant to head east from Charing Cross to an enlarged station at Aldwych, then on to new stations at Ludgate Circus and Fenchurch Street (still the only mainline London terminal with no tube connection). From here the railway would have headed down to New Cross and Lewisham, or eastwards through the decaying London Docks to Silvertown and Thamesmead, or both. (Look, maps) But the money ran out before any of that could happen, and it took the promise of hard cash from the developers of Canary Wharf to kickstart the extension plans again. In 1990 new plans were put forward to extend the Jubilee line from Green Park to Stratford, severing the ten-year-old connection to Charing Cross. The chosen route linked central London to Docklands by heading south of the Thames into areas previously poorly served by underground services. (Look, more maps. Look, a seriously in-depth history of the whole story)

Construction of the Jubilee line extension began in 1993. The extension was 10 miles long, serving eleven stations (three of them completely new). It would cost more than £3 billion to build and was a bold step into the future. All stations would be fully accessible with lifts to streeet level. All stations would have platform-edge doors (they improve airflow as well as safety). All stations would be enormous enough to cope with increased passenger traffic over the next five decades. And, most importantly of all as it turned out, all stations would be designed independently by different architects. And wow aren't they fantastic? It's almost worth taking a trip down the line stopping off at every station just to admire the stunningly impressive use of concrete. Which is what I'll be doing on here each day for the rest of the month. Prepare to stand in awe.

Jubilee line extension opening (1999)
Friday 14th May: North Greenwich to Stratford opened (by John Prescott)
Friday 17th September: Bermondsey to North Greenwich opened
Friday 24th September: Waterloo to Bermondsey opened (but not Southwark or London Bridge)
Thursday 7th October: London Bridge opened
Saturday 20th November: Green Park to Waterloo (but not Westminster) plus Southwark opened, Charing Cross closed
Wednesday 22nd December: Westminster opened, just in time before...
Friday 31st December: Millennium Dome opened. If nothing else, it got the Jubilee line extension built.

Jubilee line extension links
all my Silver Jubilee posts on one page
my Jubilee photo blog (with bonus extra photos)
much better photos than I've taken
more much better photos than I've taken
even more much better photos than I've taken
reviewing the new stations
a literary view of an engineering masterpiece


Silver Jubilee: Westminster
Opened: Thursday 24th December 1868
Jubilee line platforms opened: Tuesday 22nd December 1999 (the newest 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.


Silver Jubilee: Waterloo
Opened: Saturday 10th March 1906
Jubilee line platforms opened: Saturday 20th November 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.0 km (beneath River Thames)
Platform: exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: the London Borough of Lambeth
Change here for: Bakerloo, Northern and Waterloo & City lines, and mainline services
Photo shows: the two very long moving walkways that link the Jubilee line to all other connecting services.
Fact file: Waterloo station has 23 escalators, more than any other underground station. The Jubilee platforms are 30m below ground.
5 things I found outside this station: Waterloo mainline station, Waterloo Eurostar station, a giant illuminated elephant's head at the top of an escalator, an IMAX cinema, homeless people.
Nearby: The South Bank = Saatchi Gallery + London Aquarium + London Eye + Jubilee Gardens + Royal Festival Hall + Queen Elizabeth Hall + Hayward Gallery + Golden Jubilee Bridges + National Film Theatre + National Theatre
Local history: Waterloo mainline station (opened 1848) was named after nearby Waterloo Bridge (opened by Prince George 18th June 1817), originally due to be called Strand Bridge but renamed to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo (18th June 1815).


Silver Jubilee: Southwark
Opened: Saturday 20th November 1999
Distance from previous station: 450m
Platform: exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: the London Borough of Southwark
Change here for: mainline services from Waterloo East
Photo shows: the vast mid-level concourse, one wall of which is covered by blue glass triangles. Wow, go see.
Fact file: Three separate escalators lead down to the platforms from the big blue cavern, each burrowing down between separate arches of the Victorian viaduct above.
5 things I found outside this station: a circular entrance lobby lit by a central glass drum, Waterloo East station (via dedicated exit), Blackfriars Road, a building site dominated by a towering blue crane (any buyers for a new glassy office building?), The Ring public house
Nearby: not a lot
Not quite nearby enough: Tate Modern, Oxo Tower, Globe Theatre.
Local history: Southwark has long been the dark side of London, with the southern banks of the Thames home to brothels, bear-baiting and some bloke called William Shakespeare.


Silver Jubilee: London Bridge
Opened: Sunday 25th February 1900
Jubilee line platforms opened: Thursday 7th October 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.3 km
Platform: exit to the right of the train
Change here for: Northern line and mainline services
Fact file: There are now two exits from this station, the original beneath the mainline station and a new exit onto Borough High Street. More photos here.
5 things I found outside this station: London Bridge, the London Dungeon, Borough Market (selling posh organic food for Observer readers), Southwark Cathedral, Guy's Hospital
Nearby: The Clink (a notorious medieval prison), the Golden Hinde (a reconstruction of Drake's famous galleon), the Greater London Assembly and, one day soon-ish probably, the 1016ft high London Bridge Tower (controversial pointy skyscraper).
Local history: The Romans built the first London Bridge across the Thames in AD43. The first stone bridge appeared in 1176, famously lined by rickety buildings and traitors' heads on spikes. A new bridge followed in 1831, only to be shipped to Lake Havasu in Arizona in the 1960s and replaced by a desperately dull concrete span.
Local blog: Miss Elaine Neous

Silver Jubilee: Bermondsey
Opened: Friday 24th September 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.9 km
Platform: exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: zone 2
Fact file: Bermondsey station is "a synthesis of heroic engineering structures animated by light, topped off by a sleek, transparent box at ground level." Further gushing architectural drivel here.
5 things I found outside this station: Jamaica Road, an electronic display welcoming you to Bermondsey station, two cashpoints, Feltor Carrington estate agents, densely-packed council blocks.
Nearby: more densely-packed council blocks, Southwark Park, the Pool of London, King's Stairs Gardens (Edward III had a house here).
Not quite nearby: Bermondsey
Local history: Peter Tatchell infamously lost the Bermondsey by-election in 1983, which is the only reason Simon Hughes still has a career. Jade from Big Brother grew up here, giving the lie to estate agents' claims that Bermondsey is now somehow trendy. More about local redevelopment here, local history here, and local historians here.


Silver Jubilee: Canada Water
Opened: Thursday 19th August 1999
Jubilee platforms opened: Friday 17th September 1999 (1 month later)
Distance from previous station: 1.1 km
Platform: exit to the right of the train
Change here for: East London Line
Fact file: There didn't used to be a station here on the East London line before the Jubilee line came along. Rotherhithe station is only 300m away.
5 things I found outside this station: a big round glass drum, a bus station, large tracts of open space awaiting redevelopment, Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, Canada Water (complete with bird raft and wind turbine).
Nearby: Harmsworth Quays (where the Daily Mail and Evening Standard are printed), Rotherhithe (which is actually rather lovely, down by the river at least), the entrance to the Rotherhithe Tunnel, Millwall FC.
Local history: The Surrey Docks on the Rotherhithe Peninsula closed in 1969. During the subsequent redevelopment almost all of the docks were filled in, but one section of the old Canada Dock remains and this is Canada Water. Locals continue to campaign to make their voices heard as redevelopment continues.


Silver Jubilee: Canary Wharf
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)
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), and was 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.
Future: More and more skyscrapers are planned (maybe too many if you ask me). See what Canary Wharf might look like in the future here.

Silver Jubilee: North Greenwich
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.
Local blog: Casino Avenue (well, local-ish)
Cheap plug 1: My Dome of Doom interactive adventure.
Cheap plug 2: lots more photos on my photo blog today.


North Greenwich: what a waste-land

Watch the opening seconds of EastEnders very very closely and you'll see that the camera pans out from an epicentre in the middle of the River Thames, just off the North Greenwich peninsula. When the programme started in 1985 the opening credits depicted a densely-packed industrial wasteland here, with a dark grey cloud positioned carefully over the tip of the peninsula. In 1999 the credits were updated to show a very different picture, with much of the surrounding industry erased and a vast new Dome shining out from the centre of that camera shot. For one millennial year the people came, in their not-quite-enough millions, and the peninsula buzzed with life. Well, some life. And then the nation went away disillusioned and left North Greenwich alone, a major transport hub surrounded by nobody. The station was designed to cope with up to twenty-two thousand passengers an hour but now serves less than half that a day. A great future is promised, but it hasn't arrived yet.

Walk out of North Greenwich station today and what will you see? There's the big Dome standing folorn and empty, its twelve yellow spikes thrusting defiantly into the sky. Through the long blue perimeter fence you might spot Group 4 security workers patrolling the vast arena like ghosts. It's still possible to walk right up to the rows of over-optimistic admission booths, all 48 of them, lined up waiting for the crowds that never came. A trickling stream of lost buses passes through the curved bus station, detouring to ferry the grateful of south-east London back to their distant homes. To the south of the Dome lies a vast open space where, one day, something more than car parks and fountains will be built. And further away still is the Millennium Village - yuppie heaven so they'd have you believe, but still absolutely nowhere near critical mass. The whole redevelopment is as bleak and deserted as the industrial landscape it replaced.

Should you have half an hour to spare you can take a lovely lonely walk around the Dome. Turn right out of the station, skulk past a wall of blue portakabins and breathe in the stunning view of Canary Wharf from across the river. Further round you cross the meridian line, etched in stone, beside a disused pavilion still home to the model remains of a multimedia exhibition. A carpet of replanted wild flowers lies cut off inside the Dome perimeter, whilst nearby riverside reedbeds sway freely in the breeze. Tiny planes fly low overhead on their way to land at tiny City Airport, and an enormous yellow sign warns shipping that the Thames Barrier lies just round the corner. You pass a legacy of underappreciated artwork spaced along the riverbank, from a vertically-sliced boat (now covered in seagulls) to Anthony Gormley's towering Quantum Cloud. Nobody lands at the Queen Elizabeth Pier any more, if indeed they ever did, and gardeners have long abandoned the shrubberies alongside the deserted car parks. The odd cyclist may speed past on some long ride to nowhere, but otherwise this walk is a solitary pilgrimage to misplaced ambition. I loved it.



Looking back from the smug safety of the future it's clear that the Dome should never have been built. The British public were never going to be enthralled by a worthy exhibition of social issues, hurriedly assembled to meet an immovable deadline. But I'm glad we tried. We may have wasted millions on the millennium, but one day this area will be reborn and it'll all be because one year ended in three zeroes. Until then the Dome will continue to stand alone and abandoned in the middle of nothing. Nothing but the EastEnders map, that is.


Silver Jubilee: Canning Town
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.


Silver Jubilee: West Ham
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 (go look at my exclusive photos again).
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. A local timeline here.


Silver Jubilee: Stratford
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.


Silver Jubilee month terminates here.

All change please.
All change.

More photos on my photo blog here.
Back to my original blog here.


Please take all your belongings with you.

Thank you for travelling on the Jubilee line.



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