diamond geezer

 Wednesday, April 14, 2010

If very strong rumours are to be believed, the central chunk of the East London line will finally reopen tomorrow. Trains will rumble again through the Thames Tunnel after two and a bit years of total closure. Opposite banks of the river will be reconnected, enabling northern folk to pop down south and southern folk to pop up north even further than they used to pop before. But which fresh delights does the East London line open up? Where can you suddenly go that you couldn't be bothered to go before. Here's the diamond geezer guide to...

Interesting places to visit along the East London Line

Dalston Junction: There's the Kingsland Shopping Centre, where you'd only ever shop if you were desperate, or local, or both. There's Dalston Kingsland station, where you can change for the North London Line (except that's extremely closed at the moment, so all you'll get is a rail replacement bus). Or there's, erm. There's a brand new station opening tomorrow, maybe that'll have to do.

Haggerston: The Regent's Canal is within brief walking distance. Other than that, tourist hotspot this is not.

Hoxton: Yay, East London's hippest trendiest quarter finally gets its own station. Except that this station's up the lowly end of town, nowhere near the lively bit, and Hoxton Square's actually rather closer to existing Old Street. But alight here for the wonderful Geffrye Museum (immediately nextdoor), and on Sundays it's only a short walk to Columbia Road Flower Market.

Shoreditch High Street: The old Shoreditch station (closed 2006) was perfect for Brick Lane, even though hardly anybody ever used it. This replacement station-in-a-box isn't quite so convenient, but it'll do (especially for beigels). Stop here too for the heart of trendy Shoreditch, the throbbing zeitgeist of Spitalfields, and Dennis Severs' House.

Whitechapel: No, not the Whitechapel Gallery, because that's next to Aldgate East station instead. Whitechapel may be the heart of the East End, and therefore steeped in history and character, but it's lacking in in must-see attractions. If you get desperate, the Royal London Hospital has a tiny weekdays-only museum.

Shadwell: There's not much here in Shadwell either, or so you might think. But if you fancy a historic prowl I'd very much recommend trails 2, 3 and 4 from the Heritage of London Trust's excellent downloadable booklet.

Wapping: Yay, Wapping. Twisty riverside streets, ye olde pubs and a dash of lingering maritime character. Come at low tide, find the right steps down, and you can even go wandering around the Thames foreshore. This is one station I'm looking forward to getting back to.

Rotherhithe: Yay, Rotherhithe. Twisty riverside streets, ye olde pubs and a dash of lingering maritime character. Plus the Brunel Museum, where you can find out the history of the ground-breaking tunnel you've just ridden through. If you've not been before, tomorrow's line reopening is the perfect excuse.

Canada Water: On the face of it, there's not much here but a bus station and some unfilled-in docks. But follow the remaining waterways to the heart of the peninsula and you can enjoy panoramic views from Stave Hill (which is a bit of a secret local place, ssssh).

Surrey Quays: Named after the adjacent Shopping Centre. Nuff said.

New Cross/New Cross Gate: End of the line, for now. Both stations are very convenient for Goldsmiths College, not that non-students have much excuse to visit. Or there's some famous beery nightlife along the New Cross Road. But quite frankly, if you're looking for something touristy to do, take the bus to Greenwich instead.

Brockley/Honor Oak Park/Forest Hill/Sydenham/Crystal Palace/Penge West/Anerley/Norwood Junction/West Croydon: No, not tomorrow. Not until the end of May. Be patient.

(and no, not tomorrow for any of it, because it seems the opening's been delayed until next week)


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