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All articles about my Randomly London v. The Tube – My Personal London Underground challenge. Raising money for for Bowel Cancer UK.

Tube Walking Update – I’ve Now Visited All 270 London Underground Stations

The rather nondescript Ealing Broadway marks the end of my station visits

The rather nondescript Ealing Broadway marks the last of my station visits

Just a quick update to say that as of yesterday - August 4th, 2013 - I've visited all 270 London Underground stations. It feels a bit surreal and is a pretty major accomplishment on it's own. However, I'm now just 3 walks away from walking all the lines as well.

While I've been posting to this blog a few times a month, most of it has not been about my tube walking. If you've been paying attention to this site's header, you'll notice I keep knocking off lines but not providing updates.

The simple truth is that I've been so busy I haven't had much time to write. Hopefully once I'm done the walks I'll have more time to devote to writing about them. So stay tuned to this space for a very detailed account of my whole tube walking adventure over the next several months.

Thanks to everyone for their support and remember you can donate to Bowel Caner UK here,

Ian

Bakerloo Line Walk – From Harrow & Wealdstone to Elephant & Castle

This post is part of my Randomly London v. The Tube Challenge. Get the latest about challenge updates here. Donate to Bowel Cancer UK here.

Red Telephone Box at Queen's Park
Red Telephone Box Seen at Queen's Park

My overall impression of the Bakerloo line was not altogether favourable when I visited the stations, and initially, walking it does little to improve this. However, this is due as much to mistakes on my part as anything else.

I'm walking the Bakerloo line from Harrow & Wealdstone in far north-west London to Elephant & Castle in the south-east. It's a cool, overcast day in October when I begin – the perfect weather for walking. Nevertheless, things begin to go wrong almost immediately.

A Shaky Beginning

First of all, I'm sleepy because I stayed out late at a work party the night before, which means I am slightly hungover as well. Far worse is the realisation that the internet on my phone is no longer working. For most experienced and/or prepared walkers this wouldn't be a problem, but for me it is.

While I don't have the best phone, it's perfectly sufficient to run Google Maps. Within a very short period of time, I've become wholly dependent on it to navigate London's streets. Why use an A to Z when you have a map with GPS right in your pocket?

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Bakerloo Line Underground Stations – Facts, Trivia And Impressions

This post is part of my Randomly London v. The Tube Challenge. Get the latest about challenge updates here. Donate to Bowel Cancer UK here.

Closed Assistance and tickets booth at South Kenton
Closed Assistance and ticket office at South Kenton. Miles away from Oxford Circus.

The Bakerloo line is the third London Underground line I'm tackling as part of my Randomly London V. The Tube Challenge. Heading from south of the Thames at Elephant & Castle to the suburban edges of north-west London up at Harrow & Wealdstone, the line - like almost all Underground lines - connects some very diverse parts of London together.

However, the line feels like the forgotten middle child of the London Underground. It doesn't go the furthest north or south and it isn't the newest or oldest, longest or shortest. In fact, it's the third least used line it terms of total passenger volume, although if you look at passengers per mile of track, it's actually the fourth most used.

The line even went into massive retreat between 1979 and 1982 when it lost the Stanmore branch to the Jubilee line and had services withdrawn so Stonebridge Park became the line's northern terminus. Nevertheless, the forgotten middle child of lines has come back a bit since then and has some interesting stations.

Here's a brief summary of my impressions of each of the 25 stations that currently make up the Bakerloo Line.

Elephant & Castle

Elephant & Castle Bakerloo Exit a classic Leslie Green station
Elephant & Castle Bakerloo line exit - classic Leslie Green.

Impressions: Elephant & Castle is one of those parts of London that will never look good, no matter what scheme the council, developers or mayor's office devise. The roundabout is designed only for cars and pedestrians are left as an afterthought.

Once you accept these facts, then the area isn't so bad. Murals in the subways brighten up what would otherwise be very drab concrete walls. The Strata building is interesting and impressive.

And, the Bakerloo platforms are best accessed through a classic Leslie Green red brick entrance. Thus, if you're a glass half-full kind of person there are some good points to the area that go at least partly mitigate the glaring negatives.

Random Fact: In 1924, the first recorded birth on the London Underground occurred at Elephant & Castle. There has been only 1 other since then. Tweet This

Tube Nerd Fact: The furthest south of Leslie Green's Tube stations. Tweet This

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All Souls Church, Langham Place

All Souls Church

All Souls Church, Langham Place is one of London's more iconic churches. Completed in December 1823 and designed by John Nash, it's rather unique design did not meet with universal approval when it opened. The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction said it was "... one of the most miserable structures in the metropolis..."

However, it would be difficult to imagine this part of London without it today. It can be found just in front of BBC Broadcasting House.

To learn more about the church visit their website.

This photo was taken during my Victoria Line Walk, in support of Bowel Cancer UK to see more photos from the walk you can visit my Flickr page.

The Many of Faces Of BBC Broadcasting House

Modern Front BBC Broadcasting House
Current modern entrance to BBC Broadcasting House

Broadcasting House is the BBC's headquarters. The original building opened in 1934 designed by George Val Myer in collaboration with M T Tudsbery. Designed in impressive Art Deco style the original front of the building is still visible see below:

BBC Broadcasting House Art Deco Front
Original Art Deco Front

However, the original building was not up to the task of providing space for the world's largest broadcaster in the 21st century. Thus, added to the old building are the Egton Wing (or John Peel Wing) and the glass entrance seen at the top of this post. However, not all views of the building are quite so impressive.

Modern Side (Egton Wing) of BBC Broadcasting House
The modern Egton Wing/Peel Wing from Langham Street, not quite so impressive.

You can find Broadcasting House by going north along Regent's Street from Oxford Circus. Don't worry the area around it is usually much quieter than the area just a few blocks south.

This photo was taken during my Victoria Line Walk, in support of Bowel Cancer UK to see more photos from the walk you can visit my Flickr page.

Beautiful Former Victorian Public Toilet In Fitzrovia

Old Public Toilet Outside The Crown And Sceptre Pub

Scattered across London are former public toilets that are no longer accessible. Some have been repurposed into anything from bars to homes. Others have tried to map the remaining ones open for the public to use.

However, the vast majority these old Victoria era toilets have been closed, too expensive to operate and maintain. Too bad when you consider how intricate the ironwork is. A really shame that more of these are not put to better use. This one can be found on Foley Street, outside The Crown And Sceptre Pub in Fitzrovia.

Edit: Seems this former loo has been turned into The Attendant, a so-called lavatory cafe.

Tower Tavern Sign

Tower Tavern Sign

Unsurprisingly, the Tower Tavern is located right next to the BT Tower. However, I think it's a very bizarre name for a pub. Pub names in the UK can be based on a variety of things such as animals, heraldry, colours, transport, historic events, etc. Location is also commonly used for naming pubs, but usually not something so recent.

Still at the end of the day, probably not worth thinking (or writing) too much about. Besides, the pedant in me would point out that the image of the BT Tower on the sign is how it used to look (with satellite dishes), so in a sense it's at least using historic imagery.

This photo was taken during my Victoria Line Walk, in support of Bowel Cancer UK to see more photos from the walk you can visit my Flickr page.

The Various Faces Of The King’s Cross Canopy Before Demolition

With word that the 1970's era "temporary" canopy at King's Cross is slated for demolition and removal over the next year, I thought I might take a quick look at some of the photos I've taken of it over the past few months.

One interesting fact I learned about the canopy while researching this post, is the fact that since it is considered a temporary structure, Camden council have had to renew planning approval for it each year.

King's Cross Station With St Pancras
The canopy with the St. Pancras Clock Tower in the background and the concourse underneath on show.

King's Cross Sign
Close-up of the canopy and sign with an ever present CCTV camera on show

King's Cross Station
The canopy with the King's Cross Clock Tower in the background.

King's Cross Canopy Still Intact
One of four photos taken the weekend before demolition began, the edge of the concourse on a rainy day.

King's Cross and St. Pancras Signs
The canopy as seen through the sign for St. Pancras Station. The two rail stations share the same underground one.

Euston Road at King's Cross
The view down Euston Road, with the canopy to the left.

King's Cross
View of the Grade I listed façade of King's Cross Station, with the roof of the canopy below.

Overall, I think the station will look far nicer with the removal of the canopy. Objectively, it is a rather ugly structure and blocks the much more beautiful façade of King's Cross Station itself. However, I do feel a slight attachment to the canopy all the same. The last time I visited London before moving here (July 2005), I stayed at a hostel near King's Cross and it's been one of the few constants in the area over the years.

Still I very much look forward to how the new "public" square that will replace the canopy will look. If it looks anything like the one behind the station, it will be an improvement. Yet, concerns still remain that it the "public" square will be controlled by a private security firm like the area behind the station. Fine if you're just walking through, but it does raise many questions about public spaces in London.