diamond geezer

 Monday, March 31, 2008

LTSR monogramDistrict 150
Three stations on the District line celebrate their 150th birthday today. This might sound impossible given that the London Underground system itself is only 145 years old, but these three out-east stations were originally part of a completely different pioneering railway network. The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway (LTSR) struck out for the Essex coast in the 1850s, originally via Stratford, but then craved their own direct connection to Fenchurch Street. A new link was built between Bow and Barking, with new stations at Bromley-by-Bow, Plaistow and East Ham, and opened on Wednesday 31st March 1858. If you'd like more information there's a special (extremely well hidden) 150th anniversary page on the TfL website, and they're also selling rather tasteful 150th anniversary posters at the Museum shop.

Here's an anniversary tribute to the three 150-year-old stations, starting with my very-local one.

 District 150: Bromley-by-Bow

Bromley-by-Bow (eastbound)Originally called: Bromley (until 18 May 1967)
Now between: Bow Road and West Ham
Annual entry & exit: 2.6 million passengers
Number of platforms: 4 (2 still in use, 2 woefully overgrown)
Station entrance: A nasty 1972 concrete block with no redeeming features [photo] (was rather lovelier until a nasty fire in 1970)
Heritage features: Clusters of four iron LTSR monograms on the eastern platform; out-of-date signage outside the front of the station declaring Bromley-by-Bow to be on the "District and Metropolitan lines"; proper "next train" lightbox (about to be replaced by bland electronic display, recently installed by jobsworth cretin much further back from the edge of the platform and obscured between two pillars); Mitchell and Webb "PC & Mac" posters (just how far behind the times is this station?)
Claim to fame: Look very closely at the tube maps on EastEnders and you'll see that Walford East takes the place of Bromley-by-Bow.
What's on the special 150th anniversary poster: Clock Mill, one of the two mills at Three Mills on the River Lea.
Anniversary celebrations: A Clock Mill poster on display in the ticket hall (no mention that the anniversary is today, though)
5 things I found outside the station: the A12 Eastway (bulldozed through local streets in the 60s), the Queen Victoria pub (closed), the knocked-down remains of gothic St Andrew's Hospital (to be reborn as 956 distinctly non-gothic semi-affordable homes), my local supermarket, the field where the old Big Brother House used to be.

 District 150: Plaistow
Plaistow (eastbound)Between: West Ham and Upton Park
Annual entry & exit: 5.2 million passengers
Number of platforms: 5 (2 originals still in use, 1 additional siding for reversing Hammersmith & City line trains, 2 gradually decaying)
Station entrance: A block-y brick building, dating from 1905 [photo]
Heritage features: Plenty of green LTSR monograms, especially on the western platform; a forest of thin iron pillars painted with gold trim; white wooden canopies in "arcade" style; double length wooden benches with inlaid LTSR metalwork; the whole station remains relatively un-butchered.
Fact file: London has two Plaistows, both close to places called Bromley. This Plaistow is by far the less glamorous. Personally, I blame the giant sewer running through the centre.
What's on the special 150th anniversary poster: That'd be Abbey Mills pumping station, the Victorian sewage cathedral. Except, erm, Abbey Mills is closer to Bromley-by-Bow than it is to Plaistow, and closer still to West Ham. Bad choice (but Plaistow itself has nowhere better)
Anniversary celebrations: Nothing whatsoever. Not even a poster. Not even today.
5 things I found outside the station: a busy bus stop, a beeping pelican crossing, a Dagenham Motors car showroom, one of Plaistow's two job centres, BestMate's flat.

 District 150: East Ham
East Ham (eastbound)Between: Upton Park and Barking
Annual entry & exit: 11.6 million passengers
Number of platforms: 4 (2 still in use, 2 screened off behind a nasty vinyl wall)
Station entrance: A long multi-entrance building with a gabled brick facade and ornate chimneys, leading into a spacious ticket hall [photo]
Heritage features: Plenty of double LTSR monograms; splendid wooden canopies; the remains of an old stabling bay; lightbox "next train" indicator; eastbound platform considerably heritage-ier than the westbound; ooh you can almost imagine the Victorian ladies in their crinolines waiting for the next steam service to Leigh-on-Sea.
Fact file: Vera Lynn grew up in East Ham. And Jimmy Greaves.
What's on the special 150th anniversary poster: The St Pancras-like gothic towers of East Ham Town Hall (now Newham Town Hall)
5 things I found outside the station: a nigh-stationary queue of traffic, 8 passing bus routes, various non-highbrow retail outlets along an Edwardian High Street, a variety of Asian restaurants, The Who Shop.

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