Unlike Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, today is a tale of two distinctly different towns and like my recent visit to Amersham, each town has its own history. So taking the Bakerloo Line, I travel to its northerly end and arrive at Harrow & Wealdstone station.
A pretty undescriptive station, akin to several on the Tfl network that are functional but have probably not seen many improvements over the years It shares its platforms with the Overground line from Euston to Watford Junction, so I expect to be passing through again when I make that journey one day. Depending on your ultimate destination determines which exit you wish to follow; west to Harrow and East to Wealdstone which is my first calling point.
En route, I learn of the tragic events of over 66 years ago on the 8th October 1952 when 112 people lost their lives and 340 others were injured when three trains collided. The triage system, which assesses those in the most urgent need, was implemented for the first time in England during this accident; and this tragic event and the efforts of those who helped to save many others is immortalised in a mural along the length of the station on its outside.
Named after a sarsen stone placed at the boundary between the parishes of Harrow and Harrow Weald, it can be found outside the Bombay Central restaurant on the approach to Harrow Weald. The restaurant proudly show off their heritage with a display of four tuk tuk’s as a showpiece outside their restaurant.
Other than that, Wealdstone has very little to offer and I feel as if the town is closed in more ways than one. Derelict shops closed some time ago, food outlets not ready to open and guess they’re awaiting the evening passing trade, and signs of social deprivation by way of discarded vodka bottles and Nitrous Oxide canisters. On top of all this gloom it starts to rain, but I remain optimistic in discovering moments of interest.
There are however only a few things that catch my eye as I walk the 4km route from the station to Harrow Weald bus depot and back. These include: an array of colourfully decorated drain covers outside Holy Trinity Church in Headstone Drive; The International Siddhashram Shakti Center in Palmerston Road; and Azure Apartments in Harrow Weald, a modern building crafted in a retro art deco style.
Disappointed, and probably frustrated with what little Wealdstone was able to reveal, I decide to head for Harrow. The rain starting to ease I arrive at the Civic Centre with its imposing 1960’s style concrete office block. It being a week after Armistice Day, the memorial stone is still awash with poppy wreaths in the shadow of the Central Mosque. The Civic Centre also proudly displays a stone from El Alamein outside their main building.
Further up the hill, I spot an interesting road name painted on the road in such a way to discourage parking at Eastern Parade, and there are clear signs of the autumnal leaf fall which I catch in the damp rainy pavements
I’d best describe Harrow town as an enclave of three main streets. The pedestrianised St Anns Road, Station Road and College Row intersected by two modern shopping centres (St Anns and St Georges) surrounded by a ring road diverting traffic. I tour the area several times looking for historical landmarks and photo opportunities in a relatively new London borough of just over 50 years, and I’m intrigued to see that Professor Brian Cox, that well known physicist has branched out into the field of Estate Agency… 🙂
I wander into St Georges centre to admire their Christmas decorations and I’m challenged by their security patrol who declare as a ‘professional’ I’m not allowed to take pictures. I try and understand their thinking, and as experienced recently at The O2, my DSLR camera is enough to attract attention and is used as the tool by which I’m classified. I explain in vain that their presumption is so wrong on many counts, but decide my case is not with the security operator who was following their centre’s protocol. I sensed though this officer was being less than vigilant as he had spotted me some 10 minutes before challenging me.
Outside, I find shades of the town’s original 60’s planning design in a shadowy walkway under one of the roundabouts west of the town and close to Morrisons with walls adorned with large mosaic style murals and tiles, and above, the creation of a new housing complex.
South of the main station of Harrow on the HIll is Lowlands Rec adjacent to Harrow College and across the road to The Grove open ground. The rec is home to an open air theatre, and although closed, was frequented by the local students as a convenient place to hang out from the college. I can imagine the tree lined Grove is popular with dog walkers and others enjoying the open air, but it is quiet giving me an uninterrupted opportunity to explore the area.
Espying a church spire through the trees, I follow a footpath leading me to St Mary’s Church and find I’m standing in the spot where Lord Byron is claimed to have spent many an hour gazing across the countryside. By now the sun is out and I share in this scenic moment before descending to the edges of Harrow School which is adjacent to the church and it’s where Lord Byron was schooled for four years up to 1805.
I decide not to explore the school and its surrounds as I wanted to capture Harrow at night time.
I thought I might start a new feature on each blog with my favourite picture, explaining why this is so.
This one I captured in St Annes Road towards the end of the day with few shoppers around and the combination of the town’s Christmas lighting effect and reflection on the wet ground enhances the colouring and adds to the mood I believe. Let me know what you think…
See all Harrow & Wealdstone pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment
See the sidebar for a sample of Harrow & Wealdstone pics on Instagram
For more info, lookup Harrow & Wealdstone Station on Wikipedia