diamond geezer

 Friday, June 09, 2006

The East London line: Terminating Shoreditch

Finally, the end of the line. After more than a century of intermittent service, Shoreditch station gets ditched tonight. It's all in a good cause, to allow the extension of the East London line northward into the tubeless wastes of Hackney, but in the process the old station gets to be wiped from the map. Not that it'll be sorely missed, not outside the ranks of the anoraked tube afficionado, because this is one of the least used, most rarely open stations on the entire underground network. But it's also strangely charming... at least for the next few hours.

Shoreditch has the air of a small rural station, accidentally dropped slap bang in the middle of the metropolis [photo]. The single track curves round from the southeast, channelled up a deep brick cutting [photo]. Grass grows up between the rails, while wild green weeds edge the disused second platform [photo]. A couple of small red lamps on sticks mark the limit of travel, although the track continues beneath the station building before petering out into the undergrowth [photo]. It's surprisingly quiet too, given that mainline trains to and from nearby Liverpool Street rumble by on the opposite side of the far arched wall. A half-timbered signal box looms above the station on a neighbouring viaduct, like a tiny cottage on stilts [photo]. There might be one or two expectant passengers hanging around for the next train, or there might not. A cleaning operative waits patiently in a small hut at the end of the platform, ready to clear litter from the next train in three minutes flat, should it ever arrive.

Trains don't arrive here very often. Weekday mornings between seven and half ten. Weekday afternoons from half three to half eight. And Sundays from seven until three. And that's it. The rest of the week the station's in limbo, the front door's locked and all the trains terminate back at Whitechapel. It's been good practice for the future.

But eventually a nigh-empty train will arrive. A dribble of passengers will disgorge onto the platform [photo] before making their way beneath the canopy to the foot of the stairs [photo]. It's a short climb up to the tiny ticket hall, which has the look of a cosy village scout hut [photo]. Several green doors lead off into unexplored backrooms, one of which is home to the lonely station supervisor. So quiet is the place that you can still pick up a copy of the Metro newspaper here during the evening rush hour. Not that it's much of a rush, of course.

Outside Shoreditch station, in a cobbled alleyway beside a block of flats, the urban reality of backstreet Spitalfields hits home [photo]. A grizzly old bloke is probably slumped up against the wall swigging industrial strength cider, egged on by an equally sozzled group in the corner of the park. Three lads are stoking a perpetual bonfire inside the big metal bin on the pavement. And how did all those shoes end up dangling from the overhead cable across the street - surely some local hurling champion must be responsible [photo]. Cross the park (if you dare) and you'll stumble upon the unexpected charm of Spitalfields City Farm. It'd be nothing impressive to you lot living out in the real countryside, but Tower Hamlets residents don't get to see a donkey very often. Just the one, mind, and just the one pig too, but there are several goats, a proper gaggle of geese and some rather splendid ferrets. Alas the farm was built directly above the East London line and so, when construction begins on the new extension, the paddocks out the front are doomed. Thankfully Tilly the Shetland pony and the rest of her friends are scheduled to remain.

But most of the handful of passengers emerging from Shoreditch station turn right, not left. It's only a very short distance up the alleyway into Brick Lane - one of the most lively streets in the capital [photo]. Here the Bangladeshi community mixes with Shoreditch's trendy arty set in a lively symbiosis of dynamic cultures. You can wear your embroidered hat to the Jamme Masjid mosque on the corner of Fournier Street., or you can wear your rectangular specs to the bar beside the Old Truman Brewery. The curry restaurants are numerous and legendary, although personally I much prefer the 24 hour beigels. And once a week there's an extremely well-attended street market, which explains why the station opens on Sundays. Sorry, used to open on Sundays.

So, if this is one of the busiest streets in East London, how can the station have been so poorly used? Well, it's not easy to find for a start. It's at the quieter end of the lane, just past the spice/alcohol epicentre. There's just one tiny roundel sign, with paint peeling like athlete's foot, beckoning lamely to passers-by [photo]. The station's name is wholly inappropriate too, because the heart of 'real' Shoreditch is a good ten minutes walk away, at least. If only somebody important at TfL had thought to rename the station Brick Lane instead (because that's exactly where it is), maybe more trendy young things in the West End might have looked on the tube map and thought "ooh, let's go for a curry on the East London line". Alas not. On average no more than 700 people enter Shoreditch station every day, which is a pitifully low number. Across the London Underground, only stations on the Hainault loop of the Central line are less busy. The ELL's Shoreditch service won't be missed in the future, not by more than a handful of real people anyway.

But a few locals will be inconvenienced after the station doors slam shut, so TfL are obliged to run a replacement bus service on their behalf. Look, there it is on the updated tube map. Unfortunately this looks set to be a particularly useless replacement bus service. The problem is Brick Lane, which is too narrow to support bus traffic. Shoreditch's replacement buses therefore have to stop up on Bethnal Green Road, which is in completely the wrong direction, and then follow a distinctly roundabout detour over to Whitechapel. It would be much quicker to walk from Shoreditch to Whitechapel instead, or even better to Aldgate East, rather than taking a ride. Pity the poor bus drivers, soon doomed to repeat this mindless journey several times a day carrying virtually no passengers at all.

So if you want to visit Shoreditch station don't bother waiting for the bus, come down here today. I bet you won't be alone [photo]. The trains into this little backwater terminus will be packed tonight, full of Londoners come to pay their last respects [photo]. And they won't be staying for a curry either. These irregular passengers will be hanging around the ticket hall absorbing the station's doomed ambience [photo]. They'll be hovering at the end of the platform snapping pictures destined for their blog or photo-sharing website. They'll be shooting camcorder footage of the last train to pull in [photo], and they'll be battling for a seat on the final train out [photo]. In the digital 21st century, tube station deaths no longer go unreported or unremembered. But the genuine Shoreditch, a station to nowhere used by nigh nobody, will have faded away rather earlier in the day. And that's the station I prefer to remember [photo].

Last train in: 8.31pm
Last train out: 8.34pm
Shoreditch terminated: 8.35pm

Shoreditch
Opened: 10th April 1876
Closed: 9th June 2006
Distance from Whitechapel: 800m
Annual passenger throughflow (2005): 0.4 million
Annual passenger throughflow (2007): 0

Other people's photographs of Shoreditch station
Arrangements for the closure of Shoreditch station
Underground history: Shoreditch station
Last trains - East London line timetable


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
King's X Steam Extravaganza
Sat 11 & Sun 12 October (11-4)
Family event in Granary Sq
with model railways, steam
experts, workshops and food.

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
tired of london
in the aquarium
round the island
christopher fowler
thamesfacingeast
one bus at a time
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
uk general election 2015

read the archive
Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv