Thursday, July 28, 2016
It's nine years since fences went up around the Olympic Park to allow the transformation of the Lower Lea Valley to begin, and four years today since it first opened up to spectators. It's not quite four years since the Games ended and the whole lot was sealed off again, but since then the vast majority has been opened up again, knitting an upgraded landscape into the surrounding communities. But even in 2016 not everything's yet been returned to the public - this was always going to be a long term project - and in some places work has yet to begin. So here are ten bits of QEOP that still aren't ready, as part of the Olympic Games' unfinished legacy.
(and another 50 photos, sorry, you must be sick of flicking through photos by now)
Built in 1931, and the linchpin of the Bow Back Rivers canal network, Carpenters Road Lock boasted the only ‘double radial lock gates’ in the country. It had also gone to rack and ruin before the Games came along, its twin concrete supports sealed off as befits a dangerous structure. Suddenly it found itself at the very centre of the Olympic site, so plans were cleverly designed to route the main pedestrian walkways over the top, and to leave restoration for another day. This restoration seemed in doubt post-Games, leaving a rather forlorn pair of low level gates and a break in the riverside footpath where it would have been convenient to cross. Now at last £1.75m in funding has been found, with a significant chunk from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and work is underway to add new radial lock gates and restore the structure of the lock. It means you can't walk under the mirrored bridge for a couple of months, but that'll be sorted by the end of the summer, and next year boats will be able to navigate through bringing the entire QEOP waterway system to life. You'll see the difference!
After four years they still haven't allowed untrammelled public access to the area immediately around the stadium, although West Ham's first home match is only one week away so the permanent removal of the temporary barriers must surely be close. We'll be able to see the Olympic bell in its new home, and the World Cup 66 statue that used to grace the foot of Green Street, and a variety of other Hammers-related plaques and features to try to make this place feel special. Empty waterside paths await first footfall, with freshly-planted banks to explore, as the last frozen space in the heart of the park finally opens up.
A long wedge of waterside between Westfield and the River Lea, immediately to the north of the Aquatic Centre, remains sealed off and waiting redevelopment. Over the last couple of years it's played host to Secret Cinema and hosted various fairgrounds, including an urban 'beach' that's just opened for the summer. But long term the area is pencilled in as the park's Cultural and Education District - Boris's Olympicopolis - where a series of exciting institutions will make their home. The V&A are coming to Stratford with a 18,000m² building, including space for the Smithsonian Museum in their first overseas foray out of Washington. Sadler's Wells will be opening a 550-seat theatre, bringing opera (and whatever else) to central E20. Over six thousand students at UAL's London College of Fashion will be getting a brand new campus, too conveniently close to a shopping mall that'll eke their loans away. There'll also be two huge residential towers, each with almost 50 storeys if the artist's impression in yesterday's press release is to be believed. A public consultation on the proposals begins this Saturday, with a staffed exhibition taking place in the upper entrance to the Aquatics Centre at intermittent times over the subsequent fortnight. If you'd like to tell them how nice the cultural stuff will be, or what you think of a pair of monolithic apartment blocks disfiguring the heart of the Olympic Park, go tell them before there's no turning back.
East Village shops
The Athletes Village was one of the first bits of Olympic legacy to be opened up, having been made habitable in time for the Games and thus relatively easy to sell off. Its flats are occupied and buzzy, bringing a quick return for investors. But at ground floor level round Victory Square and down Glade Walk, where commercial spaces have been built instead of housing, it's still rather dead. Propping up flats on top of retail is very much the done thing these days, but the signs reading "35 new shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars" that cover several vacant windows still sound wildly optimistic, especially within a brief walk of Westfield.
Waterglades (southern exit)
If you visited the Olympic Park during the Games, and wandered away from the main drag, you'll remember the semi-telephone boxes, sliced in half and plonked in the ground for 'art'. Two of those halves are still there, at the less accessible end of the Waterglades by the East Village. But the other artwork lies out of reach beyond a metal barrier, which in 2012 anyone could cross but in 2016 nobody. The path crosses a footbridge and the emerging Channel Tunnel Rail Link, before zigzagging up a steep slope to Westfield Avenue - the central link road. But there's no pavement on this side of the road, never has been, nor it seems any intention of building one, so a line of barriers continues to block access and looks more permanent with every passing day. Design mis-step, funding issue, or abjectly forgotten?
Another entirely lost piece of infrastructure is this mighty highway running alongside the A12 to the north of the Velodrome. It's had its moments as part of the service Loop Road during the Olympics, and helped to feed traffic through to Westfield before that. But it's currently barriered off at both ends and inaccessible to vehicles, possibly to stop it becoming a rat run, although it does look wide enough to cope. In the meantime it is an excellent place to practise riding a bike, and rather cheaper for cycling up and down than the official VeloPark road race circuit alongside.
The main road north from Westfield passes the Copper Box and then bends right, running along the edge of a long expanse of grass. It's not been specially landscaped other than a few avenues of trees, unlike the parkland closer to the river which is immaculately contoured and lovingly tended. And that's because the lawns alongside Waterden Road are pencilled in for housing, the entire roadside strip, introducing fortress blocks containing over 800 homes. It was always the plan to build housing round the park in phases, and anywhere you see a flat level area with nothing much going on, that's probably its destiny soon. East Wick, Clarnico Quay and Sweetwater will all be residential districts arising down the western edge of the park, it's just that as yet there's almost nothing to see.
In the northwest corner of the park, 2012's International Media Centre has been transformed into a 'Technology Innovation centre' called Here East. Its best known tenant is probably BT Sport, for as long as a telephone company has cash to throw at football, but other enterprises can be found within and they're keen to attract more. Walking round this giant hangar sometimes has a tumbleweed feel, though less so when students from Loughborough University are around, and presumably less again when University College London moves in a couple of faculties in the autumn. Meanwhile twelve retail units have been made available facing the canal, only a minority of which yet have tenants, mostly serving food and drink. One of these is The Breakfast Club, whose Soho venue has queues stretching out of the door, whereas here you'll get a seat... and don't worry, enough of a buzz.
The Canal Park was supposed to be open a couple of years ago, a thin strip of green running down the banks of the canalised River Lea. It sort-of was, though with large areas fenced off to give the grass a chance to bed down and the vegetation the opportunity to settle. It's getting there, with some of the banks opposite Hackney Wick now rather attractive, although less great as yet further north, and the patch in front of Here East still a little bland. The Canal Park's purpose in later life is to act as a green buffer between development and river, an attractive resource for residents, and in turn to boost the value of their properties. It'll also border two primary schools, one of which is almost ready - a three-form entry academy from the Mossbourne stable, which opens in September.
(hang on, that's only nine unfinished things, and I think there are rather more than that, so best continue tomorrow...)
posted 07:00 :
Wednesday, July 27, 2016London's Olympic Games began four years ago today. It's still officially our turn, the 30th Olympiad doesn't end until Friday next week when Rio takes the baton. And it all kicked off with that Opening Ceremony, that feelgood factor, and that cauldron. The ceremony's always there to be watched on that DVD you probably bought, even if the feelgood factor's taken something of a bashing of late. And the cauldron's still around too, if you know where to look, and ever need a concentrated emotional boost.
The Museum of London has been playing host to a special 'cauldron' gallery for the last two years - precisely two years, it turns out. The museum used to have a courtyard at its heart, underused other than as a lightwell, but it's been requisitioned for this special exhibition through construction of a lofty black chamber. It needs to be tall to fit the stems in - not all 204 of them, but a fair number, one cluster of 55 rising high in one corner and another cluster of 42 splayed out in the corner opposite. Saves throwing them away, or hiding them in a storeroom somewhere.
The gallery's quite dark, all the better to evoke the cauldron's pre-midnight slot, and to aid the illusion that the reflected quarter-circle goes all the way round. But not too dark. There's plenty of background information to read, and photos to look at, plus a couple of quite distracting videos that play out on large screens overhead.
Although these are the actual metal stems, they're not the actual copper petals perched atop. Those have all been returned to the individual countries they represent, and who'd brought them into the stadium at the start of the athletes' parade. A rather delightful display shows representatives from several countries posing beside their allotted piece, in Thailand's case quite stuffily, but in the UAE with grins and a thumbs up. But the designers made three sets, one for the Olympics, one (slightly less numerous) for the Paralympics, and another purely for testing purposes. It's these test petals that appear in the exhibition, along with several shelves of the individually carved wooden blocks which guided their construction.
We learn that each Olympic petal had a special alphanumeric code, from A01 in the centre to J31 round the edge, with countries allocated in parade order. We learn that construction took 25,000 man hours, and that the top secret project was codenamed 'Betty' (after the executive producer's dog). We don't learn that a New York design studio claimed to have come up with the idea first, a claim eventually settled out of court, because this is more of a celebration of Thomas Heatherwick's design.
The gallery's called Designing A Moment, reflecting the organising team's desire that the moment of the cauldron's formation should be utterly memorable, rather than the subsequent burn. The designer's brief also said "no moving parts", a restriction later entirely disregarded. It's intriguing to look at the mechanics at the base of each stem and imagine the myriad of ways in which they could have gone wrong, causing global embarrassment, indeed the final technical rehearsal apparently misfired. A huge creative gamble, which thankfully paid off in spades.
One of the two looping videos features athletes and the design team talking about the cauldron, but it's the other which arrests everyone in the room when it begins. This film kicks off with the arrival of the torch at the stadium four years ago, and shows the lighting of the flame and subsequent lift, rising to a crescendo as the petals merge. There follow cauldron sequences from the other Opening and Closing Ceremonies too, but it's that first one which still packs a punch, thanks in no small part to the evocative backing of Caliban's Dream.
A word of warning if you've not been to the Museum of London lately - they now have a security check at the entrance requiring every bag to be searched, all metal objects to be withdrawn and every visitor to be patted down with an electronic wand. A sign outside confirms that each guard is wearing a body camera and that every word of conversation is being recorded, which I guess is a reflection of the potential strategic significance of a museum with the word 'London' in its title. I found the whole thing inordinately depressing rather than reassuring, a sad indication that the spirit of 2016 is very different to that of 2012. But if your optimism needs a boost, and you can bear the initial intrusion, why not pop down and relive a bit of cauldron magic?
Re-watch the Opening Ceremony
• Isles of Wonder (3:22)
• The forging of the rings (5:33)
• The Queen dropping in (6:26)
• The start of the NHS section (2:34)
• Lighting the London 2012 cauldron (9:29)
••••• The entire four hours (3:59:49)
posted 07:00 :
Tuesday, July 26, 2016The least used station in... Essex
WHITE NOTLEY (Annual passenger usage: 13386)
Having already visited the least used stations in Berkshire, Hertfordshire and Greater London, I'm continuing to downscale by visiting Essex. This eastern county has a myriad of branch lines, and it's hard to second guess on which of these the lowest passenger total might be found. The runt of the litter turns out to be on the Braintree line, a six mile single track spur diverging from the mainline at Witham. The station in question boasts an hourly train to Central London six days a week, and a connecting service on the other, yet still only attracts an average of 40 passengers a day. Having been, I can see the issues, but I was still pleasantly surprised to find a couple of places well worth visiting nearby.
It had to happen eventually, and it happened at White Notley - I was the only passenger to alight, and nobody else got on. That's a pretty good definition of a quiet station, and this one's definitely quieter than most. There's just one platform and it's really long, sufficient to fit a 12-car commuter service destination Liverpool Street. Walking from one end to the other takes three minutes, round a gentle bend to the edge of a waving wheatfield. Immediately beyond are a haybarn and a level crossing solely for farm use, a yellow telephone and several exhortations to remember to close the gates. All four benches (and the only CCTV cameras) are up the other end, closest to the level crossing and station exit, where one suspects passengers in the know always alight.
Loudspeakers kick in twice an hour to warn of the next train at platform 1, and occasionally warn that unattended baggage may be destroyed, although it's not clear by who. No ticket machine has been deemed economically viable, so occasional ramblers should collect a Permit to Travel instead. If it's raining the small shelter by the bike rack could probably squeeze in the day's entire passenger complement, although they might not all stay dry. And outside the two times an hour a train turns up it's really very quiet, bar the rumble of traffic down Station Road, which is little more than your average country lane. Importantly there's nowhere to park, indeed you'd likely block the road if you tried, which must be one reason why passenger numbers are so low. [6 station photos]
About a quarter of a mile down the lane, which I wouldn't enjoy walking along after dark, lies the village of White Notley. This is a proper Essex village, by which I mean the centre's old and pretty, while a couple of more modern roads contain most of the housing stock. I looked in vain for a shop, the only commercial premises seemingly a funeral director's, while the sole pub was under scaffolding and sheeting awaiting gastro-rebirth. The River Brain flows past the backs of some of the prettier cottages, crossed by a ford and a more recent-looking single track bridge. Meanwhile the village sign celebrates White Notley's Saxon origins, with St Etheldreda's on Church Hill dating back just over a thousand years, and originally built on the site of a Roman temple. But if I've made all this sound attractive, and even if the five hundred who live here might agree, you'd be better off not bothering to take a special look.
Instead you should have turned left on leaving the station and headed up Station Road, again taking care to dodge the traffic haring inbetween the hedges. And then right along the verge of the main Witham to Braintree road, which I suspect is easier after it's been cut, so many thanks to the local council. And after just over a mile of slightly awkward walking you reach the proper local tourist site, which is Cressing Temple Barns.
What we have here are two of the finest 13th century barns in the country, built originally for the Knights Templar, hence the name. They're both huge, as you'd expect from a storage facility aimed at funding a crusade, and remarkably intact triumphs of timberwork as proven when you step inside. Outside there's a Tudor Walled Garden, looking lovely at the moment, as well as a wellhouse and a slew of farm buildings. Several of these contain examples of metal- and wood-working tools, while the Elizabethan granary - the oldest in the county - has an evocatively undulating wooden floor. And kept at a respectable distance is the Visitor Centre and Tiptree Tea Room, which is of course where the majority of the visitors were holed up. In good news entrance to the entire complex is free, unless there's an event on (like this weekend's Healthy Living Show), but the website's good at listing those so you can plan your visit to either hit or miss.
"Would you like to hear The Tale?" asked the old lady sat reading outside the Granary. A passing family turned her down, but I took Helen up on her offer and was treated to a 45 minute tour of the site with comprehensive background detail. Helen's husband was one of the guiding lights who helped oversee the restoration the Barns when Essex County Council took them over, three weeks before the Great Storm whipped all the tiles off the roof. His great interest was historical carpentry, of which this is a tiptop example, and Helen used her spotlight to point out several of the more interesting joints. Her animated conversation brought the exhibits in the Wheat Barn to life, and there was obvious pride as the widow described the discoveries her husband had made. "Do tell everybody else how interesting this place is," was her parting shot, and it is, so I am. [5 barn photos]
Continue for another half mile along Temple Lane to reach a fascinating 20th century site, Essex's very own Garden Village. Silver End was just a hamlet in 1925 when windowframe magnate Francis Henry Crittall decided to site his next factory here and house the workers alongside. He hoped they'd be able to live and socialise without ever having to leave the village, so built the largest village hall in the country (including a 400 seater cinema), and added a three-storey department store alongside (alas since burnt down and replaced by a very mediocre parade). Crittall and family built and moved into The Manors (now an old people's home), and ensured the provision of churches and a school. There's also a pleasant central park with ornate gates and a memorial garden, and a number of heritage boards depicting scenes from the history of the village.
But what sets Silver End aside is its collection of Modernist houses, many of them flat-topped beauties, with different designs repeated in sequence along the development's core road network. Broadway and Francis Way have some of the better cuboidal stock, generally painted in the same light cream colour as the houses in White Notley. Front gardens are of a good size allowing space for well-tended vegetation and/or parking, plus some smartly-clipped hedges out front. Silver Street's houses are more distinctive, down one end at least, with cute triangular protrusions above each porch. On Runnacles Street the porches have an almost Japanese flair, centrally placed on some relatively large detached frontages. Other designs are more ordinary, yet still airy and spacious, and the whole place feels at least a decade ahead of its time.
I doubt that the 4000 current residents of Silver End see their village as a tourist attraction, although many are clearly very proud, as the parish council website attests. I hoped I'd get away with walking the various streets and being intermittently impressed enough to whip out a camera, and through judicious timing survived without being eyed too strangely. I enjoyed looking out for original Crittall windows, unreplaced by modern frames, and was slightly sad to spot the only undemolished industrial building in a fenced-off central zone. And yes, I know it's only a couple of days since I invited you to look at twenty photos of Croydon, but I thought you might appreciate another twenty of Silver End, if only because it's architecturally as striking in a rather different way. And potentially reachable by train. [slideshow]
posted 07:00 :
Monday, July 25, 2016I have a regular commenter, sometimes called Bert, who really hates it when I write about local bus stops. So 'Bert', today's post is especially for you.
Bert said: Buses. East London. Forever. Buses. East London. Forever. Buses. East London. Forever.This time last year there were two Bus Stop Ms in Bow, one on Tredegar Road and one by the Bow Flyover. This caused no problems. Then, as you'll remember, Old Bus Stop E and Old Bus Stop M closed, and Old Bus Stop G was renamed Bus Stop M. This caused a problem, in that there were now two Bus Stop Ms on the Bow Church bus spider map.
TfL try to avoid having bus stops with the same letter on the same spider map as this confuses the punters, but it seems nobody had thought about this when renaming Bus Stop G as Bus Stop M. So they had to add a special extra note in the key on the map to explain which Bus Stop M was which. The end result was neither elegant nor ideal.
A solution has now been found, which is to rename the Bus Stop M in Tredegar Road as Bus Stop E. The 'E' designation has been spare since Old Bus Stop E closed last October, which means there's no longer a lettered clash on the spider map and the extra explanation in the key is no longer required. Bus 339 no longer stops at Bus Stop M on Tredegar Road, it stops at Bus Stop E, and E is the letter you'll see used online and in digital data, for example in Citymapper. The only problem is that nobody's bothered to change the letter perched on the bus stop itself.
In Tredegar Road, New Bus Stop E still has an M on it. It seems the digital team have made the decision to change M to E, and the spider map designers have followed suit, but nobody's yet been round and effected the change in real life. Sounds depressingly familiar. And all because this time last year somebody somewhere decided to rename Old Bus Stop G as New Bus Stop M, without especially thinking through the consequences, an ill-judged choice whose shortcomings continue to ripple on.
Mary said: BUSES. EAST LONDON. BOW. FOREVER.There is another Bus Stop M nearby, at Warton Road on Stratford High Street. This appears on a separate spider map, so the reuse of a letter isn't technically a problem. But it does have the unintended consequence that eastbound buses on route 25 stop at Bus Stop M at Bow Church, and next stop at Bus Stop M at Warton Road.
This 'M and M' situation arises only because TfL have been diverting route 25 over the Bow Flyover since March last year. Cycle Superhighway roadworks were significantly slowing the service elsewhere, so passengers living by the flyover were sacrificed as the 25 missed out their stop and sped by. TfL had hoped to make this diversion permanent, but relented in a public consultation last year and promised to return the route to normal once roadworks were complete.
Roadworks are now complete. The last mopping up at the Bow Roundabout finished last week, with the new pedestrian signals now fully operational. But the 25 still crosses the flyover, as before, leaving those who live nearby to rely on less useful less frequent buses. In good news there are suddenly signs of a change, with the removal of the red sticky-tape cross on the Marshgate Lane and Bow Flyover bus stops, and the reappearance of the 25's timetable on the bus stop pole. But anyone tricked by these signs into waiting for the 25 will find it still doesn't stop, it sails high over the roundabout, until such time as the bus drivers are told to return to ground level. Soon would be nice.
Giles said: BUSES. EAST LONDON. BOW. FOREVER. BUSES. EAST LONDON. BOW. FOREVER.Meanwhile, on the opposite side of Bow Church to Bus Stop M, a new saga is starting to play out. There have long been three adjacent bus stops on the westbound, namely J, K and L, each used by a different set of routes. Bus Stop J is for routes turning off Bow Road immediately ahead, that's the 108, 276 and 488. Bus Stop K is for routes continuing west, that's the more popular 25, 205, 425 and D8. And Bus Stop L is for terminating buses on Route 8, one stop before they head into Bow Bus Garage, hence for alighting only. Passengers wait at one stop or the other depending on which service they require, helping to separate the boarding rush.
All three bus stops were upgraded early this year as part of the CS2 Cycle Superhighway works, with the addition of a bus stop bypass and two new bus shelters. But it seems Bus Stop K is now to be closed, and all through services are to use Bus Stop J instead. With seven different routes passing through there's often been an awkward shuffle as drivers find there isn't room to stop in the designated place, occasionally blocking traffic as they try to angle in. Removing Bus Stop K will help relieve the pressure, because there'll now be space for four buses to park up, rather than two sets of two. Or at least that's the theory.
Officially Bus Stop K was killed off on Saturday. That's the date announced on the TfL Digital blog, and also the date that the digital feed was switched. If you check on your app, all westbound services now stop at Bus Stop J while Bus Stop K shows tumbleweed. The change has also been made on the Bow Church spider map, where Bus Stops J and L remain but Bus Stop K has vanished. But unfortunately nobody's yet made the change in real life, or at least they hadn't last night, with the tiles at Bus Stop J still showing only three routes, and the tiles at Bus Stop K showing the others. It seems nobody's told the drivers either, as buses on routes 25, 205, 425 and D8 continue to pull in at Bus Stop K, or at least as close as they can get. That's good, because that's still where the passengers are waiting, indeed nobody standing at the bus stop will yet have noticed any difference.
Presumably at some point Bus Stop K will be culled and everyone will get used to waiting at Bus Stop J for whatever turns up, just as they do with Bus Stop M on the other side of the road. It's not yet clear whether the six-month-old bus shelter at Bus Stop K will be removed, or shifted a few metres up the road, or simply left in not quite the right place. But for now there's yet another disconnect between the underlying digital system and the operation on the ground, a theme that's becoming all too common around here.
Sharon said: Buses. East London. Bow. Lefty nonsense. Forever.And finally, a couple of weeks ago I showed you Bus Stop A at Bow Church Station and pointed out that its tiles were in the wrong order. Good news! Having been wrong for months, somebody's been along and given them a shuffle, and now the D8 appears in the correct place in the sequence rather than at the end. There's customer service for you.
Unfortunately the same error persists at Bus Stop B across the road, which still has the D8 tile in the wrong place. Sorry, I forgot to mention this last time, and it seems nobody thought to check.
Still, that's only Bus Stop E, Bus Stop W, Bus Stop P, Bus Stop J, Bus Stop K and Bus Stop B which are currently mismatched and/or incorrect. And maybe soon they'll all be fixed, and poor old Bert won't have to endure these endless bus posts any more.
Bert said: I think every post on this blog should be about BUSES and EAST LONDON and BUSES and EAST LONDON and MORE BUSES and more EAST LONDON, and then some BUSES and then maybe an update on EAST LONDON and maybe something about BOW and maybe BUSES IN BOW and BUSES IN BOW THAT GO TO EAST LONDON. ...and this should continue FOREVER and FOREVER and FOREVER, FOREVER and FOREVER and FOREVER, FOREVER and FOREVER and FOREVER. BUSES. EAST LONDON. BOW. FOREVER.
posted 08:00 :
Sunday, July 24, 2016Croydon's an atypical town, with ambitions to be a city, and a slew of buildings to prove it.
Opening paragraph about how the council championed major redevelopment in the 1960s, including several lofty concrete office blocks.
How the National Trust surprised us all by organising architectural tours of Croydon over the last week, under the title Edge City.
Description of the start of the tour, and the view from the 11th floor of AMP House overlooking East Croydon station.
Observations from the walking part of the tour, a 40 minute whistlestop through part of mini-Manhattan.
Praise for the behind-the-scenes tour of the Fairfield Halls, which has just closed for a two-year re-fit.
Nostalgic look-back to that time Open House did visits to Croydon Council's 19th floor planning eyrie, now demolished.
Regret that the new buildings going up don't look as impressive, but that's what people have always said about Croydon.
Conclusion that Croydon's actually incredibly interesting, architecturally, but only if you like this kind of thing.
Confession that uploading 40 photographs of Croydon is a lot easier than writing about them.
My Croydon gallery
There are 40 photos altogether [slideshow]
posted 07:00 :
Saturday, July 23, 2016Night Tube timetables (EXCLUSIVE)
Only four weekends remain before the Night Tube begins, on two lines at least.
If you're intending to stay out late and ride the Victoria or Central lines, here's my exclusive look at the overnight service to be provided.
I say exclusive, but all I've done is dig around inside the Journey Planner which contains data up to one month hence, and anyone could have done that. I've had to search dozens of journeys at dozens of times to try to work out what's going on underneath, but I think I've worked out the timetables the trains will operate.
Basically, whatever the last train is at the moment, that stays, and then the Night Tube kicks in immediately afterwards. Trains will run every ten minutes through the early hours of Saturday and Sunday morning, and then the normal daytime service picks up immediately after that. Approximately speaking.
Here's how the Night Tube will be filling the gap on a Saturday morning, beginning on Saturday 20th August.
Night Tube timetable - Victoria line (southbound)
Walthamstow C 0020 0030 0040 0050 0100 0110 and
0500 Seven Sisters 0026 0036 0046 0056 0106 0116 0506 King's Cross 0035 0045 0055 0105 0115 0125 0515 Oxford Circus 0039 0049 0059 0109 0119 0129 0519 Victoria 0043 0053 0103 0113 0123 0133 0523 Brixton 0051 0101 0111 0121 0131 0141 0531
Don't worry, the trains will be stopping at every station, I've simply shown a selection of stations to keep this manageable. But expect trains every ten minutes along the entire line... simple!
Night Tube timetable - Victoria line (northbound)
Brixton 0034 0040 0049 0058 0108 0118 and
0518 Victoria 0041 0048 0056 0105 0115 0125 0525 Oxford Circus 0045 0051 0100 0109 0119 0129 0529 King's Cross 0050 0056 0105 0114 0124 0134 0534 Seven Sisters 0059 0106 0114 0123 0133 0143 0543 Walthamstow C 0104 0112 0119 0128 0138 0148 0548
Northbound trains take a while to slip into a pattern, running slightly more frequently as the Night Tube service kicks in. But then it's every ten minutes all the way through to half past five, just like on the southbound.
Night Tube timetable - Central line (eastbound)
Ealing Broadway 0015 0035 0055 and
0515 White City 0025 0035 0045 0055 0105 0115 0515 0525 Oxford Circus 0039 0049 0059 0109 0119 0129 0529 0539 Mile End 0055 0105 0115 0125 0135 0145 0545 0555 Leytonstone 0103 0113 0123 0133 0143 0153 0553 0603 Hainault 0119 ↓ 0139 ↓ 0159 ↓ ↓ 0619 Loughton 0125 0145 0205 0605
The Central line is a bit more complicated. Trains will run alternately from Ealing Broadway to Hainault, and from White City to Loughton, every twenty minutes. Over the central section from White City to Leytonstone there'll be a train every ten minutes, the same frequency as on the Victoria line. There'll be no extra Night Tube services on the West Ruislip branch, nor beyond Loughton, nor between Woodford and Hainault.
Night Tube timetable - Central line (westbound)
Loughton 0003 0023 0043 and
0503 Hainault ↓ 0010 ↓ 0030 ↓ 0050 0450 ↓ Leytonstone 0015 0025 0035 0045 0055 0105 0505 0515 Mile End 0025 0035 0045 0055 0105 0115 0515 0525 Oxford Circus 0040 0050 0100 0110 0120 0130 0530 0540 White City 0054 0104 0114 0124 0134 0144 0544 0554 Ealing Broadway 0105 0125 0145 0555 0605
Again there are two overlapping twenty minute services, with a ten minute frequency between White City and Leytonstone. But notice this time that the endpoints are different - it's Loughton that links with Ealing Broadway, and Hainault that links with White City. Perhaps this is to give the drivers a bit of variety, or to shuffle the trains around over the course of the night.
Don't expect to see these timetables in a leaflet or on a wall in your local station. TfL prefer to hide their timetables these days, preferring that passengers use the Journey Planner to search current operating conditions, or simply turn up and wait. But Night Tube timetables do still exist, and understanding their structure might help you to better interpret the new 'ten minute' service when it begins.
In the meantime there's already a launch-friendly Night Tube map, showing just the relevant sections of the Victoria and Central lines, with three other lines due to join them later in the year. So bring on the night!
posted 00:03 :
Friday, July 22, 2016Some TV programmes are works of art, each camera angle honed to perfection, with an eye on digital posterity. Other shows are churned out to fill airtime, week in week out, in the hope that a decent-sized audience will tune in. Pointless is in the latter category, a conveyor belt of a quiz churned out to fill the teatime slot on BBC1, and rightly popular too. More than 800 episodes have been screened since the show started in 2009, and 210 more are currently in production. And that means a lot of seats in the audience to fill, which seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.
Yes of course you can come, said the email from the agency, here's your free e-ticket for next week. Recording takes place at Elstree Studios, beside the cavern where they film Strictly and just up the drive from the Big Brother House. It doesn't take long to get to from St Pancras, plus a sharp walk down Borehamwood High Street, past the Tesco car park where George Lucas filmed Star Wars. They always over-ticket TV shows in case not everyone turns up, so it's important to arrive early enough to get a place but not so early as to drain your life. Ten minutes early would have done in this case, but half an hour early turned out to have a bonus later.
Once the cheery queue staff have done their stuff it's time to thread in past security, no patdowns required, and queue up outside the toilets. You are advised to 'go' at this point, which is better news if you're a man than a woman, purely in terms of available space and potential length of wait. After a suitable pause the crocodile is led on down a narrow covered walkway between two of the older studio buildings. It's not at all glamorous back here - much of the gap is stacked with portakabins - but it doesn't need to be because this side of the enterprise won't ever be appearing on TV.
Pointless is filmed on Stage 8, a slight comedown from the days of Television Centre, but a large enough (and importantly air-conditioned) space shrouded in black drapes. And OMG there's the actual set, or rather a swirl of hanging tubes and fabric above a cluster of podia, not especially impressive in real life but readily transformed into a glittering backdrop via the magic of TV. Rising in the centre is the giant accumulator tower, or whatever name you'd give to an electronic cylinder that flashes downwards. And there's Alexander's lectern, and ooh there's Richard's desk, plus a complete crew standing all around to make things work.
Only the first half of the audience gets to sit in the swoosh of plastic chairs on the studio floor, while those who arrived slightly later join some more ordinary seats stacked a few rows behind. End up on the back of the front section and you'll appear in several overview shots, especially when the boom camera swings rapidly overhead, so watch out for the back of my head on TV when the latest round of filming is aired. It's mobiles off and no photos please, for copyright reasons, unless apparently you're the slightly whiffy man to my right who grabbed a trio of snaps while nobody important was looking and has presumably already uploaded them to Facebook.
It's not long before the warm-up man comes out, his job to keep you awake and perky during the breaks in the three hour shooting schedule. He's not bad, indeed you'd hope not by now because he's had almost 150 shows to hone his technique. We practice the mounting "oooh" of excitement as the scoretower drops, and various appropriate levels of applause, before performing for the approval of the floor manager. During recording he'll be standing at the back and clapping when we're supposed to clap, while a handful of camera crew stand poised to pan, zoom and focus. And yes, there's an autocue, with lettering so large it's barely possible to read four words beyond what you're reading out, which must be hard.
Before long out walk the day's first set of contestants, that's four sets of two, familiarising themselves with the layout of the lecterns. They stand patiently while the make-up team lock-spray their hair into position, or alternatively pat down their bald heads to avoid undue shine, before eventually Xander and Richard emerge to unprompted applause. Yes Mr Osman is indeed as tall as they say, as is evident when the pair go over to meet the contestants a few minutes before they'll pretend never to have met them before. Positions taken, spotlights set, and the umpteenth recording of the month gets underway.
Alexander beats with his hand while the theme tune plays, while Richard taps his fingers, none of which you'll see on screen because graphics are swirling in their place. But then the script is up and running, delivered as if the experience were fresh rather than utterly formulaic, and mixed with off-the-cuff banter that's sometimes very clever indeed. And this chemistry between the two lead players is why Pointless still works after seven years, this and the fact we can all shout out answers at home - something we've obviously been forbidden from doing in the audience.
The first question has clues that are a bit of a mouthful, so a number of quick repeats are needed to ensure that all the dialogue has been recorded properly. Somewhow it's a lot tougher to come up with the answer in the studio, even though we're not the ones being grilled.... I know the second one down, it used to be on Channel 4 in the late 90s, what is it what is it? The contestants have a tough baptism after this question has been displayed because they have to talk about themselves for a minute (or two) before being asked for an answer, diverted onto jobs and hobbies when they'd much rather be mulling over potential answers. One duff offering with a thoughtlessly high score and your screentime will be minimal.
Between rounds the stage hands come out to whittle down the podia one by one, with appropriate electrical skills to ensure the wires still work in their adjusted location. The most awkward juncture is before the head-to-head where blue and yellow surrounds have to be added, which gives the warm-up man slightly longer to tell his jokes. This must be pretty distracting for the contestants too, because they're not the target audience of his japery but have to listen all the same. Still, the "What's My Sandwich?" game goes down well, indeed the floor manager and our two hosts also chip in with a guess, before lambasting the selected audience member for his M&S lunch deal choice.
We'll be in the studio for twice as long as today's two episodes will appear on screen, so quite a lot of what we're watching will get cut out. Unscripted chats last longer than you'd expect so that only the wittiest segues need be kept, plus some of the remaining filler if the show looks like running short. I note that contestants get to think for as long as they need, in the early rounds at least, their unhurried bluster to be edited out later. And you know that bit in the final round where the last pair give three answers and these appear typed up on screen almost instantly? In real life it takes 30 seconds, this to ensure that each film actor or capital city has been spelt properly, which is another piece of magic ruined.
During our recording all the stock phrases are trotted out - will the next contestant step up to the podium please, and by 'country' we mean a sovereign state that's a member of the UN in its own right, but you have at least won a Pointless trophy. A reference is made to the 2016 party leadership elections, and to one of Richard's recent tweets, which may look quite out-of-date by January when these episodes are due to be transmitted. And between episodes the sound engineers have a sense of humour and play music relevant to the questions that have just been asked, hence a nice dash of 1998 Britpop, and a Eurovision favourite, and the theme tune from that movie one couple knew inside out.
It doesn't take long before you think you know some of the contestants quite well, especially those that come back for their second chance in the second half of the recording. That Essex couple couldn't have been from anywhere else, and the Northants pair let fly a risqué anecdote whose unspoken conclusion has us all a-titter. There is a point in proceedings where Alexander and Richard sign books that fans in the audience have brought in, or in one case a CD, so do bring yours if you're keen and coming. But Londoners are in a minority in the public seating, with most couples and groups driven in specially from rather further afield, perhaps as a birthday treat, or even flown in from as far as Northern Ireland or Australia.
We're delighted when the session ends with the Holy Grail, a final round with three Pointless answers! This time the applause is entirely authentic - they won't need the cut we pre-recorded earlier - and a foreign holiday can now be taken. We file out into reality again and switch our phones back on, passing the next audience already queued up by the railings for the next recording marathon. It's been a pleasure to spend three hours in the presence of professionals, but they've still got three more to go, and most of next week (and most of September) to get this latest batch of quizzery in the can. If you fancy watching for yourself then tickets are still available, and it's a nice way to get a smidgeon of your licence fee back whilst being pointlessly entertained.
posted 07:00 :
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Art on the Underground is a truly excellent project bringing art to passengers across the tube network.
"Art on the Underground is a pioneer in commissioning contemporary artworks that enrich the journeys of millions on the Tube every day. From large-scale commissions at Gloucester Road station to the pocket Tube map cover commissions, Art on the Underground has gathered a roll-call of the best artists over 15 years, maintaining art as a central element of Transport for London’s identity and engaging passengers and staff in a sense of shared ownership."To celebrate a decade and a half of this wide-reaching project, TfL has just launched Art for Everyone, Everyday - a joyous backslap to help remind us all of the good stuff past, and enthuse us for the good stuff yet to come.
Events and activities include...
• A poster at every station
• Art for Everyone, Everyday artworks at Stratford, Bethnal Green, Notting Hill and Gloucester Road stations (don't rush)
• Three 90 minute tube tours are taking place this Sunday, taking in five different Zone 1 artworks (free, but you had to email for a place, and they're all 'sold out')
• A talk this evening at the London Transport Museum where three of the project's artists are in conversation (starts 6.30pm, free, no need to book... which suggests they're not expecting to fill the theatre)
• An Art Map has been produced, not just a weedy fold-out thing but a proper full colour 24 page booklet highlighting 16 different artworks, and with a map showing their locations (now available in Zone 1 stations, and excellent, so you should grab one... or, second best, download it here)
• A beautifully-produced card-covered 28 page booklet including full colour photos of a selection of projects plus a list of all the artists who've taken part over the years (free, I found mine at Holborn, look out for the days of the week and a Labyrinth on the front cover)
But in a bit of an own goal, two of the 16 artworks named on the Art Map are no longer on show because they've been replaced by artworks celebrating this new project. So don't go to Stratford to see The Palace That Joan Built, because that was replaced last week by less interesting Art for Everyone, Everyday panels. Ditto don't go to Gloucester Road to enjoy An English Landscape (American Surveillance Base near Harrogate, Yorkshire), because that was also replaced last week. But the other 14 remain in situ, so why not take time to enjoy the enamel wrapper at Edgware Road, the tiling patterns on the Victoria line, the 'lost' segments at King's Cross St Pancras, the Shying Horse at Blackhorse Road and The Archer at East Finchley?
As for that 28 page booklet, it contains this intriguing claim.
"With artworks in all 33 boroughs and in every one of London's 270 Tube stations, Art on the Underground provides an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to have their lives made richer and more enjoyable through art."I don't understand how there can be an Art on the Underground artwork in every London borough, when the Underground doesn't cover the capital. Every tube station has a Labyrinth, so that's 27 boroughs covered. The Art on the Underground project also stretches to the Overground and DLR, as evidenced by the Art Map's mention of porcelain tiles at Hampstead Heath and ceramics at Woolwich Arsenal. But where are the Art on the Underground artworks in tube-free Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Lewisham and Sutton? If you have any ideas, please leave them in this special comments box. artwork comments
To assist the public in tracking down current Art on the Underground artworks, an interactive map of Current Art Projects has been created. It's well hidden, appearing only as a pop-up on the second tab of the Visiting information page, and also not entirely accurate. If you click on Notting Hill Gate you get information about Old Street, while the blob that should be at Bethnal Green has been misplaced at Mile End. Not every project that's on the Art Map appears on the interactive map, perhaps because they're not deemed current, but the end result looks rather sparse.
The Visiting Information page also lists 33 stations at which "permanent artworks and temporary exhibitions" are displayed. This is a completely different list again, suggesting (for example) the presence of artworks at Covent Garden, Fulham Broadway and Waterloo but giving no clue what these might be. Each station is clickable, but this simply brings up a phenomenally detailed list of access information and nothing whatsoever about art. It's hard to judge whether this information is aimed at tube novices or the disabled - I suspect the latter, given that the advice includes "In the station the light is artificial", "Some seats have no arm rests", and "The only showers are in the Virgin first class lounge".
I'd also hesitate a guess that the 33 individual Visiting Information pages have been uploaded to the internet without due care, attention and oversight. Here are 184 proofing errors I've found, in case anyone at TfL would like to employ me to help them out next time.
» "This document has been designed to assist accessibility to and from our exhibition space at Westminster Underground station" - at a station which is not Westminster (×11)I think that's the sloppiest set of documents I've ever seen TfL publish.
» "This document has been designed to assist accessibility to and from our exhibition space at Baker Street Underground station" - at a station which is not Baker Street (×2)
» Weblink for Current Project Map leads instead to list of artists (×32)
» Weblink for Travelling by Tube leads to non-existent page on website withdrawn 2 years ago, and does not redirect (×32)
» Weblink for Accessible Tube maps leads to non-existent page on website withdrawn 2 years ago, and does not redirect (×32)
» No accessibility information, only the name of an artwork (Edgware Road)
» Address and map are accidentally those for Warren Street (Euston)
» Address and map are accidentally those those for Piccadilly Circus (Green Park)
» Address and map are accidentally those those for Ealing Broadway (Hanger Lane)
» Pin on map for station placed 150m up the road (Highbury and Islington)
» Pin on map for station placed 300m up the road (Greenford)
» Pin on map for station placed 1000m up the road (Tottenham Court Road)
» Several incorrect over-optimistic claims about seating (e.g. "Each platform on all lines has seating within every 2-3 metres along the platform" at Baker Street)
» Statement that "There is no seating at this station" when in fact there is (several stations, especially on the Victoria line)
» "Piccadilli line" (King's Cross St Pancras)
» "Jubelee line" (London Bridge, Waterloo, Westminster)
» "Hammersmith&City" written without spaces (Baker Street)
» Blackhorse Road written as "Black Horse Road" and "Black Horse road" (Blackhorse Road)
» Bishopsgate written as "Bishop Gate" and "Bishopgate" (Liverpool Street)
» Shaftesbury Avenue written as "Shaftsbury Avenue" (Piccadilly Circus)
» Chiltern Street Masterpark written as "Children Street Master park" (Baker Street)
» Eastbound written as "East Bound" (Gloucester Road)
» "Notting Hill station" and "Nottinghill Gate" instead of Notting Hill Gate (Notting Hill Gate)
» "London overground" missing a capital letter (Highbury & Islington)
» "Walthamstow central" missing a capital letter (Walthamstow Central)
» "Bethnal Green road" missing a capital letter (Bethnal Green)
» Missing capital letters for "Charing Cross road", "Great Russell street" and "Tottenham court road" (Tottenham Court Road)
» Missing capital letters for "Midland road", "York way", "Pancras road" and "St. Pancras road" - also the latter does not exist (King's Cross St Pancras)
» "It may be easier to processed past the station before dropping off" - should be "proceed" (Brixton)
» "Please be aware stations can get very buys" (×7)
» "Please be aware stations can get very buys during rush hour and is located by a main road" - spelling error and switch from plural to singular (×2)
» "Any safety messages will be voiced over the tannoy system. Please follow any instructions give" - last consonant missing (×3)
» "Dominio Theatre" instead of Dominion Theatre (Tottenham Court Road)
» "The ticket office is located in the mail ticket hall" - should be "main" (Tottenham Court Road)
» "The work can be viewed... on the accent to the ticket hall" - should be "ascent" (Gloucester Road)
» "There are bust stops located at street level outside the station" - should be "bus stops" (Green Park)
» "Please see sing posts or ask a member of staff for directions" - should be "sign posts" (Green Park)
» "There is an area for storing bicycles which is shelterd" - should be "sheltered" (Walthamstow Central)
» "In this station there are two ticket offices, then firs one is located in the main ticket hall" - should be "the first one" (Waterloo)
» "The nearest Toilets are located in the rail station" - unnecessary capital letter (Waterloo)
» "The Toilets are located on the basement, near the exit 6" - presumably should be "in the basement", not that there is a basement (Westminster)
» Toilets described as the "women facilities" and the "men facilities" (Baker Street)
» "There is no signage on street level to indicate the existence of the artwork" - should be "at" instead of "on" (Leicester Square)
» "The approach to the station is quite busy with two bus stops , a crossing and a flower stand very close to the station" - unnecessary space in front of comma (Brixton)
» No mention in the accessibility information that the station is currently closed (Holland Park)
» "navigation is always difficult because Westminster is a touristic site" - should be "tourist", also the station is not in Westminster (King's Cross St Pancras)
» "The access to the trains has allowed by sliding doors" - badly phrased, also not true (King's Cross St Pancras)
» "The nearest toilets are located in King’s Cross St. Pancras National Rail station and the service is free" - there is no such station, and only the toilets at St Pancras are free (King's Cross St Pancras)
» "The Kinder Statue inside the station by the entrance of the ticket hall is a designated meeting spot" - the Kindertransport statue is actually outside the station (Liverpool Street)
» "A taxi rank is situated in Parliament Street, but it's easy to catch a cab everywhere around the station" - except the station is nowhere near Parliament (Oxford Circus)
» "On weekdays the station can stay busy from 10:00 am until 19:00 pm" - incorrect use of 24 hour clock (×3, Piccadilly Circus)
» "All persons who wish to see the exhibition must possess a valid travelling ticket, or purchase a ‘platform ticket’ from the ticket office. Platform tickets will allow access to the station and exhibition space for a short period of time, but will not allow train journeys to be made" - there is no ticket office (Tottenham Hale)
Or perhaps it's just meant to be art.
Afternoon update: The Visiting Information webpage and its 33 individual station subpages have been removed.
posted 07:00 :
Wednesday, July 20, 2016The warmest place in Britain is never where they say it is. The hotspot could be anywhere, whereas the Met Office only takes temperature readings at certain predefined locations. Each approved site has a Stevenson screen, a louvred wooden box which protects from direct sunlight, positioned precisely 125cm above the ground. Thousands of these exist across the country, many in the hands of willing amateurs, but the Met Office only collects observations in real time from around 270 synoptic stations [map], seven of which are in Greater London. Where are they? And what was the maximum temperature there yesterday?
» Heathrow (weather station 03772, altitude 25m) 33.2°C
The hottest place in London yesterday, or at least the place with the highest officially-recorded temperature, was Heathrow Airport. You might not be surprised by this, given that aeroplanes have enormous jet engines pumping out heat, but rest assured this is of minimal influence compared to the blazing rays of the sun. Heathrow is a good spot for a weather station for two reasons, the first historical. A large proportion of official weather stations are at properties once owned by the Air Ministry, an up-to-date knowledge of current meteorological conditions being essential for flight, hence there are three airfields in London's list, each with detailed records going back decades. Secondly a weather station needs to be located at a suitable distance from anything that might interfere with readings, hence an open space without trees, buildings or bodies of water is ideal.
Heathrow Airport has an area of five square miles, most of it empty, so it may be a surprise to learn that the weather station is right up against the edge beside a busy road. Specifically it's in the middle of the northern edge, alongside the Northern Perimeter Road, very close to where the vehicle tunnel plunges underneath the runways. Intriguingly it's very close to General Roy's Cannon, one end of the baseline which kickstarted the triangulation work of the Ordnance Survey, and a completely different fascinating tale to boot. These days you drive in from the roundabout on Nene Road, or walk in if you dare - this peripheral freeway isn't designed for those on foot. Although there's a pavement on the airport side a succession of red KEEP OUT signs is affixed to the razorwire fence, and the police drive by just often enough that poking a camera through feels somewhat unwise. But the wind vane is easily seen from the bus shelter across the road, and there's the excuse of waiting for a Heathrow-bound service to explain why you're hanging around.
The UK's warmest ever July day was recorded right here at Heathrow, last year, that's 36.7C. The record-breaking weather station is screened off within a rectangular compound, barely 100 yards from the main north runway, from this angle with the main terminal buildings on the horizon immediately behind. The passage of planes depends on which directional mode the airport's in, but while I watched only the very largest aircraft made it far enough down the runway to pass by. All the whining and braking took place almost out of sight, with British Airways and Etihad A380s eventually lumbering past. More easily seen is a squat concrete building beside the fence which now belongs to a fire and security company, but used to belong to the Met Office, confirming the former importance of this key airside location.
» Northolt (weather station 03672, altitude 37m) 32.5°C
Another weather station, another airfield. Northolt opened in 1915 as home to No. 4 Reserve Aeroplane Squadron, and has developed over the last century into the airport of choice for the armed services and certain private jets. Its weather station is in the centre of the southern perimeter fence, which runs immediately alongside the A40 dual carriageway. Walking this way is not recommended, I tried it once and it took half an hour of verge-scrambling beneath half-height lampposts, but rest assured that the location is ideally situated within a large circle of non-built-up area.
» St James's Park (weather station 03770, altitude 5m) 32.3°C
The Met Office's only regularly-reporting climatic station in Central London is in St James's Park. Specifically it's in the northeast corner, close to the point where Horseguards Parade meets The Mall, immediately alongside a brightly bordered tarmac path. A small square of grass, about five metres long, has been railinged off to prevent public access, with the Stevenson screen towards one corner and the open funnel of a rain gauge in the other. A bank of trees shields the site from the early morning sun, but sightlines are rather more open from breakfast onwards, which makes this a popular spot for sprawling when the weather's good. Yesterday afternoon a touchy-feely couple were frying nicely on a towel by the fence, while a de-flip-flopped cyclist lay head-deep in a book beside a Brompton while his back slowly bronzed.
» Kew Gardens (altitude 8m) 32.0°C
You can see this one for £15, it lies within the Botanical Gardens, alongside the Broad Walk close to the Orangery restaurant.
» Hampton Waterworks (altitude 30m) 31.6°C
You can't see this one, it's within the Thames Water Treatment Works off the Upper Sunbury Road, and very nearly in Surrey.
» Hampstead (weather station temporarily closed, altitude 175m)
This station near the summit at Whitestone Pond holds a peculiar weather record - the UK's highest 155-minute rainfall total. On 14th August 1975 an astonishing 169mm of rain, that's more than six inches, fell in less than three hours during a cloudburst over the Heath. The weather station is on Lower Terrace, sharing the top of an underground reservoir with Hampstead Observatory, although both are currently closed and out of action (until at least March) while Thames Water install a waterproof membrane across the site.
» Kenley (weather station 03781, altitude 170m) 29.4°C
This is the third and final airfield on the list, on the Downs to the south of Purley, and again very nearly in Surrey. To show the difference that a few miles (and a change in altitude) can make, this station recorded a temperature four degrees cooler than Heathrow yesterday, indeed Kenley's often the London site to watch in winter rather than at the height of summer.
One site that's not in this list of Met Office weather stations, but used to be, is the roof of the London Weather Centre. This has moved around in its time, including a spell in South Kensington, but spent the majority of its existence in and around the Holborn area. In 1919 readings were taken on the Air Ministry Roof in Kingsway, before shifting to nearby Victory House in 1938 and Princes House in 1959. In 1965 it moved to Penderel House on High Holborn, where an under-exposed roof led to measurements eventually moving to the top of State House across the road. A single snowflake here meant a White Christmas, a target which in 1992 moved to the western end of the Clerkenwell Road. By now renamed Met Office London, the service was closed for good on 12th September 2006, and that's why you never hear about the London Weather Centre any more. For a full detailed history, read this.And finally here are two other sites to the east of London famous for their high temperatures:
• Gravesend/Broadness 31.8°C: At the tip of the Swanscombe peninsula, this remote estuarine site holds the record for the UK's highest October temperature (29.9°C in 2011). [I've been, and it's damned remote]
• Faversham/Brogdale: The UK's highest ever temperature was recorded here amid the National Fruit Collection, somewhat controversially (38.5°C on 10th August 2003). This week's heatwave is a walk in the park by comparison. [I've been, and it's ace]
Oh, and if you'd ever like to keep an eye on the actual temperature at various sites around the country, the Met Office has a live map with a 24 hour slider. Here it is focused on London, but you can recentre and rescale to wherever. It won't be quite so shirt-drippingly hot today.
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