Last week’s London Shoes blog was, (as they say on X-Factor, and other such tv progs) a “journey”.
This particular trek out also had me sort of paying homage to the topic in question, on a particular anniversary of its existence.
So – this week’s publication onto the London Shoes website-twitter feed & fb page – celebrates the 40th Birthday of what is London’s newest tube service – the “Jubilee Line”.
Forty years ago on the 1st May 1979, the “Jubilee Line” tube opened to the public for the very first time.
The Jubilee line is the Silver coloured one on the standard Tube Map, and today it comprises of 27 stations, running from ‘Stanmore’ in the north west of Greater London, and through to ‘Stratford’ in the east of London.
Although it is technically London’s newest underground line, it shares many of its stations and track with many of the much older and prominent stations of other tube lines such as the Bakerloo, District, Circle and certainly the Metropolitan tube lines – especially those situated in central London.
The ‘Jubilee’ is the deepest tube line in London, operating at 105ft below sea-level, at some locations.
It is estimated that around some 215 million+ passenger journey’s per year are undertaken on the Jubilee Line.
Now – something I wasn’t aware of until I started doing my little bit of research on this article, is that it didn’t start life as the Jubilee Line – it was designed and constructed as the “Fleet Line” in commemoration of one of London’s most famous ‘lost rivers’, the ‘River Fleet’, because its tracks that ran through central London, followed the path of the River Fleet on the north side of the Thames.
The original design was for this Fleet Line to branch out from Green Park tube station, and towards Charing Cross tube and National Rail stations – specifically to relieve the pressure and serious congestion being suffered on the Bakerloo tube line.
However, at the end of the day, it was decided that this new tube line would not spur directly into Charing Cross, but would head off to Stratford in the east of London.
In fact even today, within the unused areas of Charing Cross Station, there are still a collection of tube fixtures & fittings lying around in storage, with the “Fleet Line” wording on them.
The completion of this ‘new’ line project overran considerably (as they tend to do – just look at Crossrail today) to the extent that, as time moved on, the new proposed completion date, was getting close to Queen Elizabeth II’s ‘Silver Jubilee’ date in 1977 – and so it was discussed and agreed at very high level, that the name of the new line should be changed from the ‘Fleet Line’ to the ‘Jubilee Line’, in commemoration of the Queen’s ‘Silver Jubilee’.
London Transports dabbled with their standard ‘battleship grey’ colour paint – making it a bit lighter and more silvery in colour – and this was the colour used to represent the newly named ‘Jubilee Line’.
The ‘Jubilee Line’ was eventually officially opened by Prince Charles the Prince of Wales on 30th April 1979 – and then opened to the public the next day.
Further extension work was undertaken on the Jubilee lines route to Stratford in east London – creating stations such as North Greenwich, Canning Town and West Ham – areas that hadn’t previously been served to well by tube services in the past.
With the constant increases to London’s population since the line opened in 79, a decision was made in 2005 to increase all Jubilee Line tube trains from 6 carriages to 7, to relieve the ever increasing demand and congestion, particularly throughout central London. By lobbing on an extra carriage meant that the Jubilee Line tube trains could increase its usage by 6,000 per hour – which obviously helped solve the problem.
The Jubilee Line has its very own massive depot just outside Stratford station in east of London – and it also shares the large depot situated over in Neasden to the west of London, with some of the other tube lines.
So – whilst travelling from one end of the Jubilee Line to the other (eg Stanmore to Stratford) to celebrate its 40th Birthday, I ‘hopped off’ at a few of the line’s stations that have a little bit of an unusual story or history about them – and this is what I found:-
Stanmore station is the Jubilee Line’s final stop to the far north west of London. It was originally opened back in 1932 when it was part of the old Metropolitan line.
A station has been situated here since 1909, when it was part of the very early structure of the Metropolitan line.
On display in its subways are 4 large enameled panels that depict maps of Dollis Hill from the 16th to the 20th Century – a interesting piece of art that certainly brightens up what is basically a normal run-of-the-mill tube station.
There has been a station in Kilburn since 1879, when it was part of the old Metropolitan Railway service.
The interesting landmark at this Jubilee Line station is the magnificent iron bridge that carries the rail track across Kilburn High Road. This old railway bridge dates back to 1914 – and has been restored to its original colours of light blue with red lettering – really brightens up the skyline.
This Jubilee Line station first opened in 1939, and still has many of its original ‘art-deco’ fixtures & fittings in situ, such as the old London Underground signage, and the fantastic lamps that illuminate the escalators.
The station is named after the 1804 pub that sits directly outside the stations main entrance.
The pub is built in the design of a typical Swiss chalet and was originally called the ‘Swiss Tavern’.
*St. John’s Wood
This Grade II listed Jubilee Line station was originally opened in 1939, and like its neighbouring station ‘Swiss Cottage’, it still retains a number of its 1930’s ‘art-deco’ features.
It is the nearest station to the famous Lords Cricket Ground, and the Abbey Road Recording Studios, made famous by the Beatles – cashing in on its Beatles popularity, which draws tourists there from all over the world – inside the station is the ‘Beatles Coffee Shop’ with its ‘Helter Skelter’ entrance.
Interestingly, the original plan was for the station to be named ‘Acacia’ not St. Johns Wood – as its main entrance leads out onto ‘Acacia Road’.
The original station at Bond Street opened in 1900 when it was part of the Central Railway.
In 1920 Harry Selfridge – the owner of the globally famous ‘Selfridges’ department store – partitioned at high level for Bond Street station to be re-named ‘Selfridges’ and for a subway to lead from the station directly into his Selfridges store – this proposal very nearly happened.
There has been a rail station at Westminster since 1868 – but the Jubilee Line service only commenced there in 1999.
Westminster is where the Jubilee Line is at its deepest, operating with 3 other tube lines above it – and that’s why there are a total of 17 escalators and 5 lifts operating there.
When the Jubilee Line was being excavated at Westminster, all the disturbance underground, cause Big Ben to move 35mm – had there been any further movement then the tower would have been in serious danger of cracking and possibly collapsing.
One interesting thing I found out about at Westminster is that it has a little known ‘private’ subway exit that provides access into the ‘Parliamentary Estate’. This entrance is often guarded by security, and you can only access the entrance via a security pass – However, I managed to get right up close to it to take a photo of it.
The 2nd busiest of London’s stations.
There has been a station at Waterloo since 1898 – and a Jubilee Line station since 1999.
In the Jubilee Line ticket office area, there stands a life sized model of an ‘Elephant’ – and it is said that the reason for its display is to commemorate the fact that Britain’s very first ringed-circus’ the ‘Astley Amphi Theatre’, that ran from 1768 to 1893, was situated just outside the station – and wild animals such as elephants were regular attractions there.
The Jubilee Line service at Southwark, was opened in 1999.
In its interconnecting subways there stands a unique and fascinating piece of art. The ‘Blue Wall’ (as its commonly known) is 52ft high and 130ft long, and consists of 660 pieces of glass, that give off an amazing reflection – a really tasteful bit of art in my opinion, and well worth stopping-off for a gander, if you’re ever passing through Southwark on the Jubilee.
This particular station has a personal connection to me, as for around 15yrs it was the destination of my daily commute to work – when I was located at the Barclays Bank Head-Office situated at Canary Wharf.
This Jubilee Line station is the biggest and busiest ‘single-line’ station in Britain, with in excess of 40 million passenger journeys per year.
It has 3 main entrances and is unique in that no other tube line services share the tracks of its 2 platforms, 20 escalators & 3 lifts.
The entire design and layout of the Jubilee Line station at Canary Wharf, is scientifically designed to deal with its footfall, especially during rush-hour periods.
It has a massive layout operating under the ground, which you would have no idea of, at street level.
Its unique appearance was designed by Sir Norman Foster, who had a hand in designing the unique ‘Bilbao Metro’ rail network – again, a service that’s very close to my heart as I have visited Bilbao every year for the past 13 or so years, and have travelled the Bilbao Metro network many times.
A station worth visiting – for a day out, in my opinion – just to look at its architecture and features…..all things that us commuters take for granted and totally miss, when using it every day.
The Canning Town area had its first station way back in 1873 (the Eastern Counties Line) – a Jubilee Line service has been running there since 1999.
What is fascinating about this station is that, tucked away in a little used stairway that leads from the bus station to the train station concourse – there is one of my favourite commemorative fixtures, that celebrates the historic and famous “Thames Iron Works” that operated in Canning Town, and was responsible for forming the history and character of the entire area.
At the top of this ‘hidden’ stairwell there is a huge chunk of iron taken from the ship HMS Warrior – and below this are loads of concrete panels that have been riveted to the stairway walls – these panels tell the story of the Thames Iron Works and its influence London’s maritime industry and also some of the River Thames iconic bridges.
And of course – for those that are not aware – the ‘Thames Iron Works’ football team became my beloved ‘West Ham United’ – hence our battle cry……”Come On You Irons”!!!
Is the final station at the eastern end of the Jubilee Line – and it is now the busiest of London’s stations, and the 6th busiest station in Britain.
There has been a rail service at Stratford since 1839, when the old Great Eastern Railway Company operated from there.
The Jubilee Line at Stratford opened in 1999 – and today the Central – Jubilee –DLR – Tfl – National Rail and the Channel Tunnel connection lines – all have platforms at Stratford station – and it will be one of the main inter5 connecting stations when the Crossrail lines are formally opened.
It’s a station that I have used regularly through my life, and will continue to use, as it is my nearest mail-line connecting station, just 18mins from my home.
So – having spent the day ‘riding’ the Jubilee in celebration of its 40th Birthday – and ending up in Stratford station, as I had – I was in desperate need of a ‘cheeky’ beer or two – and so I wandered through the station subway that leads directly into the massive ‘Westfield Shopping Complex’ (more commonly known as ‘Stratford City’) that has been in situ at Stratford since 2011 – and headed towards The Cow pub (or gastro bar as they like their Billy’s to describe it).
‘The Cow’, although pleasant in décor and ambience – is a typical modern shopping center drinking hole – certainly not sleazy enough for me – and at £6.50 a pint, it’s certainly not the sort of place you could afford to go to regularly. However, with its close proximity to West Ham United’s London Stadium, and also the Olympic Park – it is extremely popular and busy, especially on match-days.
Still – their beer is ‘clean’ and the service is friendly – perfect for couple of ‘cheeky’ ones.
So – hope you enjoyed this ‘journey’ celebrating the Jubilee Lines ‘40th’ – and all that’s left to say is “Mind the Gap”.
See more photos below – of my Jubilee Line ‘journey’