Saturday, August 12, 2017

Central: West Ruislip


It has taken exactly two years for me to visit, photograph and write about all the 49 stations on the Central Line. The Line covers 46 miles and has the longest continuous journey on the Underground from Epping to West Ruislip at 34.1 miles. I estimate that I walk on average  5 miles per station. In Central London it would be less as there is so much to see in close proximity to the station. However, once away from the centre I do walk much further to find places of interest or, as in some places, I get carried away by the surroundings and end up doing a much longer walk than I anticipated. For instance walking back along the canal from Greenford into Central London, a distance of about 9 miles. The weather was so perfect for a canal walk that I couldn't resist. My legs did object to that the following day!


The station used to be called Ruislip and Ickenham when it first opened in 1906. At that time it was part of the Great Western and Great Central Joint Railway. When the extension to the Central line opened in 1948 the station was known as West Ruislip. The station has four platforms, two for the Underground and two for mainline services to London Marylebone and Gerrards Cross. A parliamentary train used to run once a day from Paddington to West Ruislip but it now passes through the station without stopping. These trains, often referred to as 'ghost trains' were a legal requirement to keep a station open. Legislation used to require that one service be run once a day on every railway route in the UK. These trains are still run to prevent the cost of formal closure of a route or station.

The last station on the line is not a spectacular one but at least, outside,  the frontage has been improved by the flower displays on the Central road barriers.



Built in 1828 it was originally a cottage and blacksmiths but was converted into a pub in 1850. The name 'The Soldiers Return' came from the days when soldiers would return to the nearby RAF base at Uxbridge to convalesce after active service.

Just passed the pub was a sign for the Hillingdon Trail which I had to follow, of course. The Borough of Hillingdon is London's second largest Borough and has more than 200 parks and green spaces. The trail is a 20 mile path taking you through Hillingdon's countryside. 
It looked a delightful walk passing through woods, meadows and fields but unfortunately I didn't have the time to explore it. I followed it as far as Ickenham Cricket club and back out onto the road. 
This is a very leafy suburb of London and from the housing appears more up market than the previous couple of stations.




There is a mixture of new and old but the common feature is the greenery and well established trees.




The station is not that far from Ickenham High Street so I decided to walk a little further to have a look. At almost 100 years old the village hall  has had many uses. From a  a temporary village school to a restaurant during WW2. It has also been used as a bank and a polling station.

In prime position is this water pump. Originally constructed in 1865, it was in use until 1914. The inscription reads 'This well was sunk and the pump erected by the executors of the late Charlotte Gell, widow, who died on the 14th November 1863. After a long residence in this parish Mrs Gell by her will, desired that this pump should be dedicated to the use of the inhabitants of this village forever.'

The coach and horses pub has some parts dating back to the 17th cent. It used to have a blacksmiths next to it.







The village pond.


I wandered back to the station passing this row of mock Tudor shops which completed my last walk on  the Central Line. Having visited all the stations on the Bakerloo and the Central line I have   to 73 Underground stations  so that just leaves me with 197 to explore!


Friday, July 28, 2017

Central: Ruislip Gardens






The tracks through the station were laid in 1906, 30 years before there was a station here. They were laid for the railway and not for the Underground. Central line services didn't start from here until November 1948 having been delayed due to the war.






I am now at the 48th station out of 49 stations on this line.
Station entrance on West End Road




As you can see from the map of the area the station is very close to RAF Northolt.
The airfield which opened in 1915 is older than the RAF as the Royal Air Force did not come into existence until 1st April 1918.



This is the main entrance to the base. I think that is a spitfire on display but not sure.


Seeing the open gates at the other entrance I thought I would wander in and take a few photos. However a notice telling me that non pass holders would be arrested stopped me walking any further. All other photos were taken from the road through the fence!


The airfield first became operational in June 1915 when BE2c aircraft flew defensive patrols against Zeppelin raids. The BE2 was a single engine, two seater bi-plane which was flown by the Royal Flying Corps from 1912 until the end of WW1. The Officers' Mess built around 1920 is still in use as is one of the hangars. RAF Northolt was the first airbase to operate the Hurricane and during the Battle of Britain in WW2 it was home to a number of allied and British Hurricane and Spitfire squadrons, including a complete Polish Wing.




















The British Forces Post Office moved to the airbase in 2008 as part of a reorganisation of services which involved the closure of RAF Bentley priory and RAF Uxbridge. By 2010 the RAF Central Band, the Queen's Colour squadron and various other units moved into new or refurbished facilities at Northolt. In more recent times RAF Northolt played a leading role in ensuring the safety of London during the 2012 Olympic Games. It was the base for Typhoon fast jets  which formed part of the security plan for the Games.


I walked back towards South Ruislip station. Almost opposite the station is the boundary of the Ministry of Defence ground which surrounds RAF Northolt. Running alongside is Yeading Brook which emerges from under the road across from the station.

The Brook is a 16 mile tributary of the River Crane, a tributary of the River Thames.

It was an unexpected delightful walk  taking me through woodland and into a meadow but I turned back after a mile as I was wandering too far away from South Ruislip station.

I returned to West End Lane through a housing estate bringing me out near the bridge which takes the Tube trains to their final destination.
Just beyond the Bridge is the Bell Inn,built in the 1930s,it  then became a small hotel in 2015 with just 5 rooms to let. It was due to be demolished when HS2 was coming through but that's now going to be tunneled under Ruislip. The HS2 is a new high speed rail link from London to Birmingham and then on to Manchester and Leeds. There has been a lot of controversy about the exact route of the line and its effect on those living near it.









On either side of the road are shops with the majority being takeaway food outlets.


My next stop is the terminus for the Central Line

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Central: South Ruislip

From Northolt the train travelled alongside green fields. Easy to see how this was once all fields and farms.
The station was opened in 1908 and was originally known as Northolt Junction. It then became South Ruislip and Northolt Junction(quite a mouthful) in 1932 and finally received its present name in June 1947 just 18 months before becoming part of the Central Line extension. This is the island platform for the Central Line. There are two other platforms serving this station which are for the National Rail trains  running between Marylebone, London and Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.




I am almost at the end of the line. Just two more stations to visit after this one.











The subway leading to the exit or the National Rail platforms.

The rounded booking Hall was not completed until 1960 complete with this concrete, glass and granite frieze by Henry Haig, more well known for his stained glass work.







The bridge which carries the line above the road at Station Approach is lower than other local bridges at 11 feet and 9 inches (3.58m) and is often hit by high vehicles. The bridge is strengthened at either side to lessen the damage caused by drivers who don't know the height of the vehicle they are driving!

Walking within the vicinity of the station I only came across residential streets, interspersed with small parades of shops.


Walking a little further from the station I found the headquarters of the  GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) in London.




The ground has only recently been reopened (May 2017) after the completion of this new stand. I have never watched a game of Gaelic football but I am aware it is very different to  English football.You can just about see the goal post on this photo. To me it looks like a football goal below rugby goalposts.
It is played between two teams of 15 players on a rectangular grass pitch. The objective of the sport is to score by kicking or punching the ball into the other team's goals (3 points) or between two upright posts above the goals and over a crossbar 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) above the ground (1 point). (Wikipaedia definition.)

I walked to the roundabout at the end of West End Lane to find the Polish War Memorial.

The names of 1,243 Polish airmen who died during the war were inscribed on the wall behind the monument and a further 659 names were added between 1994 and 1996 when the memorial was refurbished.
The stone and granite memorial was designed by Mieczyslaw Lubelski who had been interned in a Nazi concentration camp during the war. The bronze eagle is the symbol of the Polish Air Force.
In September 2015 a new remembrance garden opened to mark 75 years since The Battle of Britain. he memorial and garden were sited here because of their close proximity to RAF Northolt where the Polish Air Force was based. However, sitting in the garden it is anything but peaceful with lorries and cars continuously thundering past.

 I left the busy roads and walked back towards the station through the side roads.














 Walked under another low bridge and past a recreation ground.









The area seems to be expanding looking at the size of this new development. It is on the site of what was once a dairy and when fully completed will include an 11 screen cinema, a couple of large foodstores and restaurants.

An artist's view of the new development.








A 1930s pub just the other side of the station. Used to be known as the Deane Arms but had a poor reputation so the owners changed the  name of the pub in the hope the clientele would also change. Whether it did or not I'm not sure but it does get good reviews nowadays.

Next to the pub is the Ramada Hotel. As it is just a couple of minutes walk from the tube station I am sure it is a popular hotel for tourists as well as business people requiring easy access to Central London.

A walk under the low bridge and I am back at South Ruislip station.