August is Local History Month on diamond geezer. Over the years I've explored the street I worked on, walked the length of the river Fleet and crossed the capital on a line of latitude, to name but a few of my many quests. This year I thought I'd go to every London borough in turn and attempt to visit all its stations in as short a time as possible, in a series I'm calling Every Station.
Obviously I'm starting in my home borough, which means visiting every station in Tower Hamlets. Checking carefully on a map, that means visiting these 30 stations:
• Overground: Shoreditch High Street - Wapping
• Overground: Bethnal Green - Cambridge Heath
• Central: Bethnal Green - Mile End
• District: Tower Hill - Bromley-by-Bow
• DLR: Shadwell - East India
• DLR: Bow Church - Island Gardens
• Jubilee: Canary Wharf
I'm hoping for a record-breaking time. Fingers crossed I can visit Every Station in under two hours.
00:00 I have decided to start my quest at Cambridge Heath because this station has the most infrequent service. I start my stopwatch as the doors close. 00:02 I have reached Bethnal Green. I am not staying on the train as far as Liverpool Street because this is not in Tower Hamlets. Instead I walk through the streets to the other Bethnal Green station. This takes rather longer than I was expecting. 00:11 Damn, I have three minutes to wait for a Central line train. That's a worse than average gap for a weekday. 00:16 Mile End, by contrast, is a breeze. I am up and over the stairs and straight onto a westbound District line train and this is all going swimmingly. 00:21 Having ticked off Stepney Green I alight at Whitechapel because I want to do all the remaining Overground stations from here. I wish the phone zombies would get out of my way. 00:25 Swapping platforms at Shoreditch High Street I see on the display in the ticket hall that the next southbound train is five minutes away. Dammit. But when I climb up to the platform I discover another train is only one minute away, because the evil liars who program Next Train Indicators in ticket halls are risk-averse bastards. 00:32 Near Shadwell my first onboard beggar of the day shows me a piece of paper, pauses briefly while she deduces I'm not going to look at it and walks away. 00:34 Doubling back at Wapping means using two tiny sets of stairs. Thankfully it's only two minutes until the next northbound train arrives, because the subsequent gap is eight minutes. 00:39 I've been through Shadwell before (and will be back again in 15 minutes time). Beggar number 2 wants to tell the carriage a poem. 00:41 Hurrah, a westbound train is just pulling in at Whitechapel, and it's a District not a Hammersmith & City. Perfect. 00:45 After Aldgate East I nudge down the carriage a bit to be in the right place for the exit at Tower Hill. 00:49 Tower Gateway isn't actually in Tower Hamlets, despite being just across the road, but using it is the quickest route to where I need to go next. I have got lucky - the next train leaves in three minutes, whereas it could have been nine. 00:56 Limehouse is my first new station for ages, but Westferry quickly follows. 01:00 No need to change at Poplar, I'm already on the right train. 01:02 Blackwall is my halfway station. Best scenery of the journey along this stretch, assuming you like skyscrapers and a bit of river. 01:05 Technically I didn't need to go further than East India, but I have continued to Canning Town for a cunning Jubilee line connection outside the borough in Newham. An instant connection too, excellent. 01:08 But at West Ham, a depressing surprise - the next westbound District line train is six minutes away! This is a much much longer gap than usual. Also I didn't think the Next Train Indicator at West Ham was capable of announcing times beyond one minute, but now it can, so hurrah for signalling upgrades. 01:19 Getting to Bromley-by-Bow has taken ages, and I fear I may not hit my target. 01:21 It feels odd making the street level connection between Bow Road and Bow Church, because I never normally do this because I live here. 01:25 Damn, just missed a train - I can see it just down the line at Devons Road - but the gap on the DLR is never long, so all's well. 01:31 That's Langdon Park dealt with, followed quickly by All Saints, and then I'll be passing through Poplar for the second time. 01:34 West India Quay could have been tricky if I was coming from Westferry, but I'm not because this was all part of my cunning plan. 01:35 I considered getting off at Canary Wharf and walking over to do the Jubilee line station while I was here, but I think that's best left until the end, so I simply cross the platform to board a Lewisham train. 01:40 I'm now at Heron Quays heading away from my final station. The clock is ticking if I want a sub-two-hour time. 01:45 The train captain edges down the carriage checking tickets. He gets to me not at South Quay, nor at Crossharbour, but at Mudchute. 01:46 Island Gardens is the last of 17 DLR stations, and phew, a northbound train has just pulled in on the opposite platform! I'm going to do this... 01:52 Back at Heron Quays all I have to do is descend an escalator, walk across a piazza, descend an escalator and I'm inside Canary Wharf station. 01:55 My rules say I have to actually arrive or leave on a train, and it looks like the eastbound will be the next train out. 01:56 As the platform doors slam shut I stop my countdown at 1 hour, 56 minutes and 57 seconds precisely, and that is the time to beat on the Tower Hamlets Every Station Challenge.
I'm sure my time can be beaten. I didn't run any of my connections, and I got unlucky at West Ham, and I suspect there's a more efficient way of using the Jubilee line, but I'm going to claim the record on the basis that I don't think anybody else has tried to do what I've done. Let me know if you try. Or maybe you could try to visit all the stations in your own borough so that when I get that far I have a target to beat. The Guinness Book of Records are going to be all over this, I just know they are.
Update: Except there are only 31 days in August, and more than 31 London boroughs, so this feature is entirely unfeasible.