30 December, 2007

Piccadilly Line: South Kensington - Acton Town

You begin to shake off the tourists on this stretch of the Piccadilly. You also shake off the ground itself.

The line breaks cover just before Barons Court. I feel the same thing every time this happens, anywhere on the network. It's a sense of escape, a sort of liberation. The sprawl of the city centre is behind and away from you. Ahead is the open air, the suburbs, and space. And, of course, places you can take photos of without having to schlep up and down escalators all the time.

All the stations on this stretch have counterparts on the District Line, and it was for the District - or rather the Metropolitan Railway, or the Metropolitan District Railway, or the Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway, or the London and South Western Railway, and so on and on - that all of them were founded.

So none are technically Piccadilly stations. Their histories are bound up with that aformentioned jumble of erstwhile multi-named companies and conglomerates, dating back to the 1860s. The Piccadilly only turned up in 1906, and then only as far as Hammersmith. It wasn't until the 1930s that the likes of Acton Town joined the line.

As such, passing this way and photographing the stations as members of the Piccadilly family is, I guess, somewhat disingenuous. That's my way of saying I'm not going to bother much with the histories of the buildings and leave that for when I write about the District Line. Meanwhile here are half a dozen west London destinations snapped, as usual, in varying stages of daylight and nighttime, becoming evermore ornate and everless populous.

Gloucester Road is worth loitering in awhile, in order to check out the art installations that take up the whole of the disused platorm 4.

Anybody with little English and even less patience will have a torrid time at Earl's Court, a brilliantly sprawling junction with bits of the District line sprouting off in all directions where there's no telling what train will be passing your way next. It's still got these fantastic old-style multi-purpose destination boards as well. But I realise I'm talking about the District line and the Piccadilly has nothing to do with them at all, so instead here's an interesting (well, I think so) view from the station's Warwick Road entrance.

Come Barons Court and you're above ground, with the Piccadilly and District line tracks running side by side. The building is Grade II listed. I took this photo, along with the other night ones here, after work in the week before Christmas.

I always wonder what people must think of this weird bloke standing outside Underground stations taking photos of them without their permission. Yet nobody has ever come up to me and said anything, or enquired what I was doing, or asked me to stop. Nobody, that is, until I got to Hammersmith.

I only realised this afterwards, but in this photo you can actually see the security man who's about to ask me to put my camera away. He's the one walking towards the lens, in the blue anorak, right in the middle of the shot.

He didn't give me any valid reason for not being able to take a photo. It wasn't like I was even anywhere near the station entrance itself, as you can see. So much for festive spirit.

I took these last two photos during the week after Christmas, one wintry afternoon when I was feeling ill and continually eating Strepsils.

Piccadilly Line trains don't call at Turnham Green most times, only stopping in the early morning and late evening. Although it doesn't look like it here, the flower seller was doing an OK trade for the time of day (and year).

Notice anything familiar about Acton Town?

Recognise that 1930s-ish minimalist art deco-esque look? Yup, we're back in the world of Charles Holden, with stations meant to be looked up at rather than just passed down through. I suspect there'll be a fair bit more of this as the Piccadilly shakes itself free of the District line and strikes north towards Sudbury.

1 comment:

Hairychump said...

Some great pictures there!