diamond geezer

 Tuesday, March 19, 2013

CENTRAL: Walking the Hainault Loop

Once you ride past Leytonstone, the Central line links with no other railway line except itself. The Hainault loop is a peripheral peculiarity, poking out into the heart of the borough of Redbridge, and traversed by few other than the borough's residents. The north and east sides of the loop used to be part of the Great Eastern Railway, joined southwards from Newbury Park to Ilford. Then London Transport tunnelled a fresh connection from Leytonstone, opening in 1947, and the Central line's loop was born. It has ten stations altogether, many of them architecturally intriguing, and trains take just over twenty minutes to travel from one end to the next. I thought I'd walk it. I do this so that you don't have to, remember - indeed on this occasion I'd strongly recommend that you don't. From urban sprawl to inner Essex, there are finer strolls. But hang on in there, especially if this corner of London is unknown to you. [map] [16 photos]

I thought I'd start from Wanstead. I couldn't face the trek along the A12 from Leytonstone, plus I'd walked that way before as part of the amazing Linked project. Wanstead is an oasis of pleasantness, but only because the dual carriageway has been hidden in a cut and cover tunnel beneath the village green. The station stands in contrast as an outpost of modernity, a clump of rectilinear boxes topped off by a plain concrete tower. Charles Holden designed it, his plans diluted by wartime austerity, but striking all the same. Those seeking class and culture should head north along the High Street, past the George pub and its plaque "In Memory of Ye Cherry Pey". Alas the Central line follows the A12 east, from here all the way to Newbury Park, and that's the weary road I had to tread.

Cars splashed downhill, past sidestreets abruptly chopped mid-terrace when the new road was driven through in the 1990s. I'd picked a rotten day for it. The rain should have been clearing but instead chucked down even heavier, which is not what you want when striding alongside an arterial. I could have hidden beneath the footbridge, one of the few ways across this tarmac divide, but thought I'd better press on because there were still more than ten miles to go. At the foot of the slope the houses ceased, because this is the floodplain of the Roding valley and much better suited to allotments and sports pitches. Ahead the North Circular crosses the Redbridge roundabout on stilts, only a short distance from the foot of the M11. It's not an easy environment for the pedestrian, funnelled through the middle via a twisting footpath, just remote enough that "what if..." thoughts of solitary crime begin to surface. But nah, absolutely fine.



Here's Redbridge station, another Holden classic. Again there's a tower, but this one's Buckinghamshire brick, while lower down's mostly curves rather than straight lines. The exterior is roundeltastic, not just circles on poles but a whole series wrought in iron as part of a fence around the top of the stairwell. It's all a bit Piccadilly line, but differently quirky and not quite so grand. The station was sited on a traffic island beside the roundabout so it could best be served by local buses, augmented these days by long distance coaches pausing to disgorge motorway folk onto the tube.

You can tell that the main road came first because the next stretch is arrow-straight, with acres of semi-style housing off to each side. This is proper interwar ribbon development, with front gardens shamelessly backing onto the A12 rather than curling away in disgust. Almost all are paved, with hardstanding for a couple of cars and very few attempts at horticulture. A word of advice to the householder who's planted a row of artificial flowers and surrounded them by rings of white pebbles - it's not classy, and a blatant fake when spring's late. If you think London's ugliest building is in Archway or Colliers Wood, perhaps you've not seen Wentworth House. Imagine a shoebox balanced on a coffee table, and now strip away everything lovely about your mental image. The ninth floor office suite is currently up for grabs for an annual rent of £34K, but only a visually dysfunctional boss would move their workforce here.

There's very little to Gants Hill station above ground, just what looks like a redbrick scout hut in the middle of a major roundabout. Dip into the subway, signposted by some lovely solid roundels, and the tiling's bright and sunny. But only if you descend the escalator do the true glories of Gants Hill reveal themselves, notably the arched space between the platforms with uplighters reminiscent of the Moscow Underground. If you like worshipping bits of the Underground, make sure you venture out to this Holden temple to pay homage. But alas I wasn't going to the platforms, I had more of Eastern Avenue to walk. Oh joy, more dual carriageway and exhaust fumes, and more terraced semis facing onto the road. Most of those living out here have wheels, and automotive businesses thrive, be that tyremen, repairguys or in-car wi-fi hi-fi fitters. There's also a sizeable Asian population around here, which again you might not be aware of because you've never visited, reflected in the occasional houseproud façade and pillared balcony.



A major road junction ahead looks like it ought to have the next tube station, but that's only a giant JD Sports on the corner. This is Grays Corner, a retail crossroads where the pub is now a McDonalds drivethru, and where the local newsagent is Fags & Mags. Ilford War Memorial Gardens are the only evident heritage hereabouts, a 1922 survivor watched over by the bronze figure of a soldier, overshadowed on both sides by millennial redevelopment that used to be hospitals. Nobody built a Holiday Inn here because there's something to see, more because cheap beds on the edge of town near the tube are always desirable. And Newbury Park is just down the road - the station nothing special, but the bus station, whoa! Oliver Hill's semi-cylindrical copper roof is breathtaking, especially alongside suburban mundanity, and the worthy winner of a Festival of Britain award. A fine place to pause awhile... maybe even the rain'll stop.


<< 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

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