#44: Liverpool Street – 15/03/2019

I’ll begin by declaring I have a history with Liverpool Street station: almost 29 years of it travelling daily to and from the station on my commute through to various work destinations across London…and I’ve loved every minute of it…and I’ve worked out that I’ve passed through Liverpool Street station more than 15,000 times so I feel I have some affinity with the place.

Stories of seeing the station grow over that time spring to mind; stories of seeing the journey change – particularly in the Stratford area as the Olympic Park was developed; and stories of passenger anger as occasionally there wasn’t enough room to squeeze the next person on the train due to overcrowding as a consequence of an earlier cancelled train.

I learnt early on that starting my journey from Gidea Park, an end terminus of the now renamed Tfl Rail, that getting the right seat was vital. So it came to pass that I began to ‘own a seat’ by a window and not near an entrance – and woe betide if I caught a different train and sat in someone else’s seat…But let’s keep these stories for another time.

I hadn’t pre-planned my visit, but as I started to explore the station in depth, I decided my route would take me no further than one block away from the station complex, into parts of ‘The City’ that are defined by the iconic red, white and black bollards that mark out its boundary.

Liverpool Street Station

The station, declared as the third busiest in the uK, serves destinations to the eastern quadrant of England, embracing predominantly: Essex, East Anglia, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. Having 18 platforms, it provides a service for National Rail, Greater Anglia, C2C, Tfl Rail, TfL Overground and the Stansted Express.

At the time I moved to London (1990) and started commuting through the station, it was undergoing massive redevelopment and over the succeeding years it evolved into the station it is today. The platforms were re-modelled into, what I thought at the time, unexciting,  modular and functional. But the more I looked, the more iconic I felt the vaulted roof with supported lighting became; so much so one of these pictures has made it into my ‘picture of the day’ (see below).

The main station platforms and the concourse shouts out classic Victoriana in the grandest scale and you need to crane your head up to enjoy the ironwork and glazing, fashioned in a  majestic cathedral-esque style. A marvel of architectural engineering, soon to be compared no doubt, to the feat of current underground activity in building a new station to serve the Elizabeth Line.

The current underground station has also undergone extensive modernisation and their new livery colours recently unveiled in monochromatic tiles. They too adopt a classic style synonymous with the underground network.

Broadgate

To the north and east of the station is an area predominantly occupied by financial services; the area is known as Broadgate and sits where once stood Broad Street station which was amalgamated into Liverpool Street station some time ago.

I remember Broadgate Exchange (to the north) being built over the station at the same time the station continued to operate, and didn’t realise at the time that the huge pylons being driven in-between the tracks ended up as stilts for the buildings above. Now a stylish business area with its own open air piazza with alfresco dining and watering holes. I hadn’t realised until recent years that you can walk through the station to Exchange Square. It’s an area worth a visit, even for the mildly curious, as the architecture of the immediate buildings is interestingly different, although I did have to run the gauntlet of the local building management security when taking some pics.

To the east of the station is Broadgate Circus, again a financial services district, where every winter the circus area is converted into an open air ice rink. This area has, and continues to  undergo significant redevelopment as new occupiers want to stamp their own independent mark on the buildings. In fact this is quite a feature of the City where nothing stays the same for too long. I can’t imagine the wealth that’s spent in developing and re-developing buildings. Brexit or no-Brexit: I really don’t think things will change here.

The ‘windy’ City

Heading through Finsbury Circus into an area behind The Bank of England; an area riddled with alleyways and historical buildings it’s easy to lose track of where you are – that was certainly my experience when I first wandered through this area. It is though what makes The City so interesting; a place full of character and if you dare to stop and look at what’s around, you can learn a lot about places such as the Furniture Makers Hall; Austin Friars; and Draper’s Hall which is one of the twelve great livery companies that modelled mutual assurance in England.

Exiting into the hustle and bustle of Throgmorton Street and crossing into Bishopsgate to explore around Tower 42 – or as I remember it: The NatWest Tower.

Bishopsgate leads into Leadenhall: both areas are full of history and where the old architecture is often dwarfed by the modernist statemented building, such as The Gherkin and The Leadenhall Building where office workers compete with the casual tourists for prime spots for lunch or simply to socialise. Today is a particularly windy day which is accentuated in alleys and building undercuts with gusts strong enough to blow you around.

The City is rightly proud of its heritage and does much to attract visitors. For example its Sculptures in the City exhibition draws you around looking at temporary works of art which live in harmony with more established statues. Here are a couple.

Night time in Spitalfields

I end my visit in one of my favourite haunts: Spitalfields Market, and although traders are closing up their pitches, evening time created an opportunity for some different pictures. I tried some long exposure shots to capture the effect of people walking through the frame, but such was the lighting that I’ve barely captured their ghostly image, nevertheless, these night time images of inside the market and en-route back to Liverpool Street ended what has been an interesting day.

Picture of the Day

I didn’t expect this to be my picture of the day when I took it but the more I looked at it the more I felt it reflected my visit to Liverpool Street Station. This shot is taken from the very end of Platform 16/17 and aiming up to the vaulted canopy looking down the length of the platform. It’s almost a black & white photo, but a streak of red on the train carriage to the left, and the colouring at the platform concourse (bottom centre) tells you otherwise. A wide angle shot to get the width of the platform, and it is one of a series of shots. I’ve picked this one because of its stark black and white contrast which creates a somewhat atmospheric and moody feel. I hope you like it?

Settings: Canon Canon EOS 200D; ƒ/3.5; 1/80; 21mm; ISO200

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#43: Stanmore – 28/02/2019

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This is a rare day: my first wet travelling day since starting this blog. Not bad as it’s been almost a year since my first trip. Thankfully, although the showers came in heavy bursts at times in almost flash flood style, they did wear off by early afternoon.

Stanmore is at the north westerly end of the Jubilee Line, 25 stops from its other terminus at Stratford, and the station is fairly typical of those built in the first half of the 20th Century. The sidings though were unsurprisingly abandoned as all the rolling stock are out so I capture some interesting, and attractive posters from the platform and station buildings instead.

There’s a new retirement complex being developed adjacent to the station, promoting itself as ‘…an elegant concept in later living’, and like a lot of new developments I find these days, the building constructors are keen to engage with the local community. And this was no different with local school children’s artwork on display promoting their interpretation of what constituted good health and safety. No doubt inspired after a visit to the site, but nevertheless the message was a good one and this poster particularly caught my eye.

Shopping Parade

Exiting the station I head west through the bus terminus towards the shopping parade built around the main cross roads. As I do, I pass a rather unassuming block of flats with a ‘Harrow Heritage Trust’ plaque declaring the building is on the site of the former home (Heywood) of Clement Atlee, the post WW2 Prime Minister. Spring is declared aplenty in the high street with flower boxes adorning railings .

Further along, there’s an interesting sculpture in between Bernays Hall and Sainsbury’s, but there’s no plaque to explain what it is. If anyone knows, please drop me a line?

My next stop is to admire the cakes on display in Yosi’s Boulangerie and I see what looks like an array of custard slices. Now those who know me from Aberystwyth heritage will know there’s one cafe famous for its custard slices against which all other custard slices are compared. I regret not going in to try one.

At the end of the parade of shops is Bernays Gardens, a delicate walled garden that hasn’t quite woken up from winter, and in the far corner visible through the confines of the garden is Cowman’s cottage. The cottage has a chequered past and I think the building looks more attractive than its history reveals.

As another shower begins to descend, I decide to return to Yosi’s Boulangerie to try their custard slice. Alas, it was a Lemon Cheesecake, but I had to try it – a bit too rich and heavy for me though.

Wood Lane

The rain is relentless so it’s time to get wet and I head north up Stanmore HIll turning into Wood Lane. As I do, I admire Stanmore Hall from afar as public access is prevented because it has high gated security barriers, but the building’s splendour can still be seen through the gates. Various internet searches record the site to have been used in several TV programmes and films.

Just across the road are Spring Ponds, also known as Stanmore Little Common, which is a small green space containing the Upper and Lower Spring Ponds, reportedly man made, dating from at least Roman times and possibly earlier. Indeed Upper Spring Pond is also known as Caesar’s Pond, based on a tradition that there was a Roman garrison quartered near there. Boudicca (Boadicea) almost certainly camped by and drank from these ponds. It is these stony ponds or “Stane Meres” that gave Stanmore its name. This photo almost made it as my ‘photo of the day’ and maybe if I could have recreated a downpour from the pump handle emptying into the pond, it would have been quite humorous.

Walking past an Islamic Centre and Shree Swaminarayan Temple, I decide not to enter their walled confines, unlike me I know, and continue as far as the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and Aspire Leisure Centre before crossing over to Stanmore Country Park. A high spot overlooking London, but the damp conditions make further exploration unattractive. The common, I’m sure, is a veritable feast of wildlife delights either across the common ground or through the dense woodlands, but today nothing was moving other than some woodland management by way of tree felling.

Canons Park

The next stage of today is more a trip down (a work related) memory lane, and finding how things have changed. You see when I worked for the DHSS/DSS (Department [for Health and] Social Security), I had occasion to visit their training centre in Canons Park and Regional Estates Centre in Wembley Park so I thought I’d revisit the areas. I knew things had changed and I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s a short walk from Stanmore to Canons Park through King George V Memorial Gardens,  which are a little reminiscent of my impression of Stanmore; loved but unkempt.

Arriving at Canons Park station I cross the road into an attractive modern housing complex and Business Centre where once stood the DHSS/DSS Training Centre. The centre was what I once described as a ‘flat pack former hospital’. I think across the country, field hospitals were erected quickly to deal with the injured from the World Wars, and post war they were converted into government establishments. Functional but cold. The address was Honeypot Lane, where now stands an elegant sculpture by Andy Hazell entitled ‘Seed’ – inspired by the idea of settlements and putting down roots.

Wembley Park

I decide to hot foot it to Olympic Way by tube (a bit far to walk), which is directly by Wembley Park Station where the DHSS/DSS Regional Estates Offices once stood. The building still stands but the area is now so different since the re-erection of Wembley Stadium in its current guise and pedestrianisation of the immediate surrounds. This was a brief stop over and I think it warrants a return trip to explore in more depth. But for now, the underpass with its changing lights, and walkway to the stadium provide for some interesting photo opportunities where I also capture today’s ‘picture of the day’.

Picture of the Day

I’ve mulled over which is my ‘picture of the day’ as it’s difficult to choose a really good one from around Stanmore as the weather conditions didn’t help. There may have been an obvious one, the sign at Stanmore Station declaring ‘The answer lies at the end of the line’, but other than being humorous for obvious reasons, not strikingly stand-out-ish. I’m a little perplexed as well as I wanted a Stanmore picture as that has been today’s end-point destination; but then again, this is about my journey of the day, and this one for me stands out by a country mile.

The shot reflects the geometric pattern of the windows on the side of the Novotel Hotel along the Olympic Way from Wembley Park underground station heading towards Wembley Stadium. The sun was just showing itself before dusk after a gloomy day of rain and overcast sky. So the opportunity of getting the sun to highlight the colour was too good to pass by. This is one of a sequence of shots, but for me this stands out as you have to look closely to realise they are windows. The pattern and colour combination, I believe, are quite striking.

Settings: Canon Canon EOS 200D; ƒ/5.6; 1/200; 55mm; ISO160