diamond geezer

 Friday, June 14, 2013


It's not your typical Underground station. Here are twenty interesting facts about Barbican station. You wrote the last four, thanks.
Your interesting Barbican facts here

1) Barbican station serves the very southern end of the A1, otherwise known as Aldersgate Street. Aldersgate was one of the five original gated entrances to the Roman City of Londinium.
2) Up until 1968 the station appeared as Aldersgate on tube maps. You'd have to be over 50 to remember that... or 48, and an extremely precocious three year-old.
3) Officially the station had been called Aldersgate & Barbican since 1924, previously Aldersgate only, but had opened as Aldersgate Street in 1865.
4) The station has four platforms, two for the Underground and two formerly for Thameslink services to Moorgate. Platforms 2 and 3 still have Network South East style platform numbers. [photo]
5) Thameslink services ceased in 2009, severed by extended platforms at Farringdon. In the last years of Thameslink service trains called at platform 3 on the way into Moorgate, but didn't stop at deserted platform 4 on the way out.
6) One of the roundels on platform 3 has been removed to leave an iron skeleton facing the unused side of the station. [photo]
7) The old Thameslink tracks are desolate and somewhat overgrown. You can't run trains through here because there are fences at each end. [photo]
8) The station's open to the sky, built in a deep trench backed onto by unlovely office-type buildings. Tall brick alcoves rise impressively up both sides of the cutting. [photo]
9) The station was bombed in 1941, and the upper floors were removed. Heavy bombing nearby is how the Barbican development came to be built opposite.
10) Originally the chasm above the platforms was spanned by an 80ft glazed arch, but its bomb-damaged frame was removed in 1955. Local resident John Betjeman wasn't at all impressed...
Monody on the Death of Aldersgate Street Station (John Betjeman)
[full poem]
Snow falls in the buffet of Aldersgate station,
Toiling and doomed from Moorgate Street puffs the train,
For us of the steam and the gas-light, the lost generation,
The new white cliffs of the City are built in vain.
11) Message to younger readers: buffets used to be sit-down cafes serving tea, meals and nice cakes. In today's world of coffee shops and gum-selling kiosks, it seems almost impossible that Barbican station ever merited such everyday luxuries.
12) The current entrance, down from Aldersgate Street and the Barbican walkways, dates back to the 1990s. Architecturally, it's an award loser. [photo]
13) Until about five years ago there used to be a very out-of-date enamel line diagram at the top of the stairs [photo]
14) At the far western end of the main platform is an old signal box that somehow hasn't been demolished yet. It will be soon, because major development is afoot here... [photo]
15) Crossrail stations are so long that the western end of Barbican will form the eastern exit to Farringdon station. Moorgate and Liverpool Street will be similarly coupled. It's going to look a total mess on the tube map.
16) Up until the 1990s, Barbican station had restricted opening hours on a Saturday and was closed on Sundays. With Crossrail's arrival, this peaceful outpost is about to get a lot busier.
17) The station was also bombed in 1897. One passenger died, and the perpetrator was never caught. "The gas on the Metropolitan side of the station had been put out by the explosion, and, standing in the semi-darkness, the wrecked carriage, still attached in its original position to the train, looked a remarkable object." [Thanks Lee]
18) Someone's recently added a "Way out" sign on platform 4, despite the fact this platform will never see a train again. [Thanks Andrew]
19) The newest part of the Metropolitan Line is the section between Barbican and Moorgate, diverted onto a new alignment in 1965 to allow construction of the Barbican Centre on the old alignment. [Thanks Tim]
20) There is a memorial plaque to Pebbles the station cat on a column in the booking hall. [Thanks Marc]

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