We pootled along Stamford Street and along the river, catching glimpses of the Oxo Tower. The delicious solid beef extract is no longer manufactured there, but Oxo is rhyming slang for the London Underground. Oxo cube = Tube. I do like a walk along the Thames Path, but not wanting to deviate from the route, we crossed the river via Blackfriars bridge. The Waterloo and City lined is nicknamed ‘The Drain’ possibly because of the leaky tunnels; water is continuously being pumped out.
The Waterloo and City Line was the first I walked. A little nubbin of a line really, only 1.5 miles long. It consists of just two stations; Waterloo and Bank, built to shuttle commuters from Surrey and Hampshire from the Waterloo mainline terminus to their jobs in the City of London.
I walked this line with my friend Wil, who has accompanied me on various other adventures. Our first was a 62 mile walk to Brighton, so this was a piece of cake in comparison. Mmm..cake. I digress. We started the day with a little walk along the Southbank. There was a funfair at the time so we were all set to take some stunning photos (Wil’s an excellent photographer) from the top of a very high swing ride. We failed to take into account London pricing though, and decided the £15 ticket money could be spent better on dinner.
Off to our first stop, Waterloo, pausing to take a quick snap outside the mainline station. This entrance is called the Victory Arch, and was built to commemorate the railway workers who lost their lives fighting in World War I.
Waterloo underground station also serves the Bakerloo, Jubilee and Northern lines, and is the busiest on the network. However, the Waterloo and City line is only part-time, and so doesn’t operate on Sundays, something I can only dream of. For this reason, it’s a popular spot for filming. Parts of ‘Sliding Doors’ was filmed here, portraying Embankment station.
Back outside the station, we passed the huge IMAX cinema. As the line runs only 3.5 metres below it, the cinema is mounted on anti vibration bearings. I think that was a mistake; that bit of jolting might add a little something to an action film, though admittedly an inconvenience in the rest rooms.
We passed both the Church of Scientology headquarters and The Salvation Army. I do hope they’re friends. We also got a glimpse of St Paul’s.
Both my stomach and Wil’s were grumbling for dinner so we were thrilled to see our destination station up ahead. Camera poised, we were disappointed to realise it was Mansion House. Gah, false hope. Still, it wasn’t much further and we reached Bank. When the line first opened this station was called ‘City’ for being within the City of London. It was renamed Bank due to it’s proximity to the Bank of England in 1940. This was a good thing; I don’t think that the ‘Waterloo and Bank’ line has a ring to it. Bank is a very busy station indeed, so it was a quick snap before heading off in search of both book shops and food. The whole journey took a mere 50 mins, though we could have done it in 4 mins had we ridden the line. A good one to start off with; just got to convince Wil that walking the entire Jubilee Line with me will be just as easy…
Bonus fact: The Waterloo & City has no direct rail connection to the rest of the rail network; no overground track, stations or maintenance depot. When new rolling stock is required it is lowered in using a road-mounted crane in a shaft adjacent to the depot, south of Waterloo mainline station.