Going Underground: why underground stations can make me smile #architecture #artdeco

Warning: don’t be offended by the clip at the end but it is VERY rude so should you not like to hear certain words that have a long Anglo Saxon history but have recently been found to cause a degree of Oh Ahhs among a certain strata of society ignore it!

I wrote a post the other day about Leytonstone station and the homage to Alfred Hitchcock, here. That made me think about some of my favourite underground stations. Mostly we walk in, ignoring the infrastructure, because we know the experience we are about to endure is, well, unendurable. Yet a pause to glance around can be worthwhile.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favs.

Gants Hill

There’s nothing to write home about here, so far as the outside is concerned (it’s part of a roundabout) but descend to platform level and the interior is well worth the effort. It’s designed by Charles Holden who had a thing about the Moscow Metro (he worked as a consultant on it apparently) and the Soviet Era feel permeates the place;  you kind of expect to see a man in a trilby hat being chased by men in dark homburgs while saving the empire or some such.

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Southgate

Here the outside has a nice bricky art deco feel but the lights on the escalators are what grab me.

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Arnos Grove and Bounds Green

Still on the northern extension of the Piccadilly Line, here we have a stunning art deco exterior, if you like that sort of thing.

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The Strand

Of course this one is shut but it is an example of the Metroland style popularised by Sir John Betjeman which appeals to me as much for the Thomas the Tank engine kind of sensation as its actual merit.

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South Kensington

Possibly it is because it services our wonderful museums that I enjoy this one, but the iron work and cosy feel make me want to enter even when it’s packed to the rafters.

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Mornington Crescent

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Why here you may ask? Nothing to do with the station or its place in the Pantheon of architectural masterpieces (it is lovely but that’s not the point) but everything to do with the panel game of the same name. Here are some rules, and here are some of the exceptions.

Here’s an example (this isn’t the rude clip)

Finally, this song, based on the Jam’s famous punk era classic ‘Going Underground’, is the antithesis of a paean of praise for our magnificent tube system but, for some commuters, will resonate, especially if you have ever been forced to spend thirty minutes or more with your nose stuck into someone’s less than fragrant armpit because the bloody drivers are on strike again.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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38 Responses to Going Underground: why underground stations can make me smile #architecture #artdeco

  1. I never could work out Mornington Crescent!

    You did well getting so many photos sans many people. The art deco pieces are lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. floridaborne says:

    Thanks for the warning at the end. 🙂

    You’ll be surprised to know that there are no subways in my part of Florida. I don’t know about the rest of Florida, it’s like a different country to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. willowdot21 says:

    great choice of song! You are obviously a radio 4 fun , good old Mornington Crescent. Fabulous stations, we are so lucky to have them and we always take them for granted. My favourite is Acton Town because though not the nearest to my home it was the one I most used. I would love to visit all the hidden and disused tube stations!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sacha Black says:

    Obviously after I read the first paragraph I skipped the entire post and just watched the filthy youtube clip, which was hilarious might I add

    Liked by 3 people

  5. So right about the escalator lights. And the clip seems about right. ☺ What’s an oyster card ?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this and YouTube clip!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m in London in a few weeks – I’m going to see if I can sing that song when I’m one the tube!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Helen Jones says:

    There are such a variety of Tube stations, aren’t there? I think you’ve picked some fab examples – funnily enough I walked past the Strand one yesterday and it caught my eye, so it was nice to see it here 🙂 And I like South Kensington too.I can see a whole series of blog posts about Tube stations, really… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. gordon759 says:

    Ah, the joy of Mornington Crescent, yet not a mention of the difference between the Tube and the Underground.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I’ll leave that to you.

      Like

      • gordon759 says:

        Right, when the Underground Railway was first built, they used the process termed ‘cut and cover’. This involved digging a deep trench wherever possible, then building the railway. Where they had to they covered the line in building a tunnel round it. Where possible they left the line open, in very deep cuttings. This was necessary as the trains were pulled by steam engines. Where they had to they tunnelled between cuttings.
        The later Tube lines were drilled under the city, they were circular in section and smaller so they neatly fitted round the electric trains. The underground lines had, not surprisingly, been very dirty, and were only used by people who had to, i.e. the poor who couldn’t use the more expensive surface transport.
        The all electric tube was considered more socially acceptable and people would plan a journey to just use the tube and avoid the underground! For many years after electrification people claimed that they knew they were on the underground as they could still smell the old soot.
        That do you?

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Perfecto….

        Like

  10. tlryder says:

    I’ve only ever ridden an underground metro in Washington D.C., as public transportation is pretty much against the people of Texas’s religion. Subways fascinate me so much. They seem like a hidden world.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. jan says:

    Some great shots! Your knowledge of London is always amazing.

    Like

  12. Annecdotist says:

    Maybe not up to Moscow’s standard, but you’ve brought out the best of the architecture.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I included The Strand underground station in my very first short story on my blog. However, didn’t it go by the name of Aldwych? I’d love to be able to go inside again and to also visit the Underground station that never was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      yes that would be cool; when they built the Victoria line they used an old part of another line whose stations are still around in Half Moon street and at Hyde park corner. Dad managed to get down to the platform level – he knew someone who worked for the underground – where they still had the adverts from the 1920s.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Mick Canning says:

    Yes, that’s the sort of thing that my daughters would introduce me to. have to say I loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ali Isaac says:

    Sorry but the finer art of appreciation for the London underground is way beyond my grasp.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Well, I enjoyed the meander through your pictures, and then I got to the Mornington Crescent clip (which seemed timely as I’d only listened to the Glasgow version earlier this evening) and thought I’d reached the climax (am I allowed to say that here?) until I clicked play on the last clip. I now need to share this with an old friend of mine who’s both a Jam fan and a train spotter!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. noelleg44 says:

    Riding the underground has always been a favorite part of our visits to London; You should listen to Charlie on the MTA by the Kingston Trio (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7Jw_v3F_Q0) for a similar musical commentary on Boston’s mass transport, sometimes underground.

    Liked by 1 person

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