#112: Marylebone – 06/10/2020

My fifth travelog, this time to Marylebone station and my thanks to the friendly Chiltern Railways staff who were happy to allow me to wander through the station and along the platforms. Chiltern Railways provide direct services from London to Aylesbury, Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Oxford, Banbury and Kidderminster. And separate services from Leamington Spa to Stratford-upon-Avon, and Birmingham Moor Street.

the main display board inside the station showing departures to 6 destinations. There's a Special Notice reminding everyone to wear a facemask

The Station

A quaint little station that was nearly not built because of the potential damage it would have made to the nearby Lords Cricket Ground. Once this matter was resolved, the station was opened in 1899, but because of a lack of money when it was built, the station has only a modest design. Since then though, not only has the station survived London’s WWII bombing unscathed, it also survived a call for it’s closure in 1984 due to a perceived downturn in passenger numbers. The station continues to meet its passenger’s needs with some measured resurgence when services were taken over by Chiltern Railways now serving the west Midlands and associated commuter routes admirably.

an enhanced colour picture standing of platforms 1 and 2 with three rolling stock waiting to depart. The colour scheme is predominantly red on the supporting roof pillars, blue on the roof support structure and brick on the supporting sttaion wall

I find all Victorian train stations have a fascinating architecture, unique in style but very much influenced by the engineering and manufacturing developments of their day. The intricate canopy outside the station entrance is a classic example of this.

the canopy over the main entrance and taxi rank. A metal roof infrastructure with a glazed end panel at either end

Along with the rail services, the station is also managed by Chiltern Railways, the only station in London not managed by Network Rail. However Network Rail do have proposals to increase the seating capacity for trains arriving here by 2024, although there is no indication that train services will be electrified. The station is served entirely by Diesel Multiple Units (DMU) that arrive and depart with some regularity.

an animation of a diesel unit of two carriages departing the station from platform 3

It’s mid afternoon during a global pandemic, so there are fewer passengers than I would normally expect. Consequently the main concourse seems deserted, but unless you’re waiting for a train to depart, there’s no real reason to be hanging around.

a black and white view over the platform gates into the main concourse devoid of many passengers.

The station entrance is not on the main road, being offset slightly in Melcombe Place which gives the station an air of calm. And it’s for this reason the station was a popular filming location in the 1960’s and 70’s. Notable films including: A Hard Day’s Night; The Thirty-Nine Steps; The IPCRESS File, and The Day of the Triffids. But despite the quietness of the afternoon, the station entrance is still the place to be seen as I observed many of the recent alighting passengers hovering here either having a smoke, or waiting for someone to join them..

a passenger standing outside the main entrance, studying her mobile phone


Is it ‘Mary le bone’ or ‘Mar le bone’? – There’s a fascinating Wikipedia page on the area’s history and it’s well worth a read. It traces the area’s origins from Tyburn Manor, which has references in the Doomsday Book as a possession of Barking Abbey (I visited there over two years ago). And then fast forward 800 years to the original St Marylebone parish church which stood on the Tybourne stream; and there we have it once you apply the favoured French language of the aristocracy of the time. Simple really. Oh yes – you decide on how to pronounce it.

Marylebone – is now a chic and fashionable residential area with a village feel offering an array of independent boutiques and smart restaurants in a picturesque setting surrounded by period architecture and green spaces. It’s popularity grew in the 18th century when the noble landowners realised the need for fashionable housing, and the area is now a public exhibition of Regency architecture at its best. Most nowadays though have been converted into fashionable HMO’s – houses of multiple occupation, some with their unique architectural stamp.

an elevated shot of 'York House' along York Road with a corner turett and a domed roof

Window Tax – At the same time new homes were being built, the government of the day introduced the much despised ‘Window Tax’ which was designed to impose a levy on property owners based on the number of windows or window-like openings the property had. The details of the tax kept changing with time, but the basic premise was that the more windows the house had, the more tax the owner had to pay. This tax had significant social, cultural, and architectural impact during the 18th and 19th centuries and consequently in order to avoid the tax, homeowners would brick up their windows. The tax was eventually repealed in 1851.

a side view of a three storey property in Thornton Place with all three windows on each floor bricked up

St Mary’s Church – not to be confused with St Marylebone parish church mentioned above. As it’s the most central Anglican church named St Mary’s in inner London, it has the privilege of colloquially being called St Mary’s Church London. This delightful Grade I listed church, with its rounded stone portico, round tower and small dome topped by cross, is in Bryanston Square, between York Street and Crawford Street. With the bright sunny and cloudy blue sky as a backdrop, the tower has a great opportunity to showcase itself

a black and white ground shot looking up at St Mary's Church with its domed top tower prominent against the cloudy blue sky backdrop

Dorset Fields – an unassuming garden in the middle of Dorset Square just east of the station. But looking closer I discover a history that’s quietly celebrated. A history that unearth’s one of England’s famous sporting clubs and the creation of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) where Thomas Lord laid out his original cricket ground in 1787. I’ll not recreate the story here, but instead you can learn more by watching this YouTube video produced by the MCC ; it sets out the story of how Thomas Lord created the famous Lords Cricket Ground and established the MCC.

a green painted hut in Dorset Fields with a pedestrian walking past. the hut displays two blue plaques. The left one  decalring its unveiling by Colin Codrey, MCC Prsesident, and the one on the right  commemorating the site where Thomas Lord laid out his original cricket ground in 1787

Picture of the Day – Unwanted Umbrella

The simplicity of this shot and its location makes it my picture of the day. I can’t work out if it’s a discarded umbrella, one left there on purpose by the station staff, or for the use of anyone on the platform. I found it between Platforms 1 and 2 as I was headed back to the main gates hooked on what I suspect may have been an unused fire extinguisher clamp.

I’ve enhanced the red colour in post production to give the picture more vibrancy without distorting the black and white of the umbrella itself. I wasn’t sure whether to crop the right hand frame, but I decided the red pillar, just in shot, helps with the overall effect so I have left it there.

a white umbrella with black fringes hanging, rolled up, on a hook fixed to one of the red roof support pillars along the length of platforms 1 and 2
  • Location: Marylebone Station
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 6th October 2020 1:11 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 46mm; Film Speed – ISO2000

Social Media

If you like what you see, do please follow me on my social media channels

  • YouTube – for my video clips where I present a compilation of my day’s pictures to music
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