The Bakerloo Line. 24 stations, 14 miles of track. Short enough (just) to walk in one day, but too long to fit into one post; so here be part one.
The Bakerloo Line as we know it today started life in 1906 as the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway, running from Baker Street in the North, to Kennington Road (now called Lambeth North) in the south. Baker Street and Waterloo Railway was too much of a mouthful for the good men of the day, so it was soon contracted to Bakerloo.
Having worked in Baker Street, I’ve travelled on foot and by tube between there and Charing Cross countless times, and I was interested to see what lay outside that area. So, at 10.30 am on a sunny March morning, I emerged from Harrow & Wealdstone tube station full of enthusiasm. I do love a new place.
Hmm, the area was, frankly, pretty unexciting. What did surprise me was how the industrial part of town had encroached on the housing, or vice versa. The huge shiny glass unit which appears to be the head office of Curvy Kate is directly opposite a row of tired looking terraced houses.
First station was Kenton, annoyingly located on the other side of the bridge to where I was.
Not much exciting to say about this station, except that it shares a birthday with Charlie Chaplin, my grandad and myself.
I deviated off route a little to visit the filming location of an iconic scene in sitcom history. The corner of Mentmore Close and Lapstone Gardens is where Basil Fawlty, incensed with, well, everything, gave his uncooperative car a “damn good thrashing”*
The streets here are wide, the area seemingly affluent, definitely suburbia rather than London.
Through South Kenton station, where I saw a young man seemingly rapping into his mobile phone. Perhaps recording his audition piece for one of those reality tv shows that hit our screens so frequently.
On and on I walked, hoping to catch a glimpse of Wembley. I kept seeing signs on the street advertising parking restrictions on events nights, but no sight of it yet. However, I did see a bike attached to a fence, and that was very nearly as impressive.
North Wembley station was my next photo op. Not much of interest except to say that it was originally going to be called East Lane. Still no sight of the fabled Wembley Stadium.
Checked my l’il tube map and saw Wembley Central was next. Walked through an estate composed of both very grand houses and some real fixer-uppers, and finally, I got a glimpse! If I zoomed in with my camera, above the roofs I could just about see a BIT OF WEMBLEY STADIUM!
It was only then that I realised, I have no idea what Wembley Stadium looks like. A Google search confirmed my suspicions that it was the stadium, and not an urban rollercoaster.
My walk carried continued to a busy shopping area, and Wembley Central. The whole area seemed very shiny and modern compared to where I’d been so far. So many people, of all creeds and colours, chatting in different languages.
Originally called Sudbury, it was renamed Wembley Central in 1948. Had I done this walk between 1982 and 1984, I wouldn’t have stopped here at all, as the Bakerloo line service was withdrawn. To be honest, between the ages of 5 and 7, I doubt I’d have had the motivation anyhow.
Pressing on, the busy streets gradually gave way to suburbia and I found myself climbing a railway bridge. I was feeling a bit achey, so I used the opportunity to have a stretch. I turned myself around and finally got my first and only good view of Wembley Stadium.
The stadium contains 2,618 toilets, more than any other venue in the world
Back in Anglo-Saxon times, the area was named after a man named ‘Wemba’ and his clearing, or ‘lea’. Wemba Lea became Wembley.
As I continued my journey, the area became distinctly residential again, then increasingly more industrial and grim.
With not much in the way of sights, I was reduced to evesdropping on a group of school kids discussing if there was a nearby Chicken Cottage for their lunchtime meal. If there was, I didn’t see one.
Stonebridge Park Station was the next one on the line. Very noisy around there, as it’s very close to the North Circular. When I’d taken my picture, my phone informed me I was in Tokyngton, which to my mind looks like it’s missing a vowel somewhere. According to Wikipedia, it means “the farm of the sons of Toca”
I was becoming somewhat disheartened by the dullness of the last couple of miles, so I was very happy to see a sign for Neasdon Temple. I’d heard that it was a stunner, so I willingly made the diversion to go and have a look. Unfortunately, there was some scaffolding around much of it, but from what I could see, it really was beautiful.
Feeling visually refreshed, if there’s such a thing, I was ready to press on to the next station.
To be continued…
*Incidentally, I googled ‘damn good thrashing’ to find an image; it threw up some interesting results.