My final travelog for a little while as London morphs from Covid Tier 2 restrictions to a country wide lockdown until December. But to be honest the lockdown has given me an opportunity to catch up and take stock and I’m surprised that I’ve been able to make seven journeys across London. No doubt I’ll get itchy feet again soon though.
Today’s visit is to Platforms 9 and 10 of Moorgate station, the home of the Great Northern Rail services to Hertford, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage and Letchworth.
When I first moved to London in 1990, the service from Moorgate to Alexandra Palace was part of my daily commute for about five years as I worked for the Benefits Agency in Wood Green. The building, ‘Granta House’, was a mere five minute walk down the hill, and it seems a lifetime away despite at the time being a life changing experience. I digress….back to Moorgate.
The main line services operate from platforms 9 and 10 which are an escalator ride down from the main underground concourse where the circle and metropolitan lines operate from platforms 1-4. From the main line platforms, you can also access the northern line underground by taking another escalator down to platforms 7-8.
Now here’s the thing, whilst the Great Northern platforms are clearly numbered as 9 and 10, all the other platforms in the underground complex don’t have their numbers advertised. And from my observations throughout my underground travels, none of the TfL underground stations have their platform numbers displayed: BUT the overhead announcements always refer to the platforms by their numbers and I often wonder if I’m the only one bemused by this. I have written to TfL for an explanation, but I have never heard back from them.
Trains operate from their two platforms frequently, and the attraction of Moorgate as a station is that it connects with Finsbury Park, making The City easy to access from far and wide.
There were two Great Northern Rail operators on the platforms at the time of my visit and they were more than happy for me to wander around and take pictures. It’s always polite to ask, and to be honest I think they respect that. So although the station is only two platforms long, I surprised myself as to how long I stayed. This was partly because I was attracted to the symmetrical patterns created by the wall tiles, and because I explored the underground parts of the station too.
The predominant colour scheme of the Great Northern platforms is black and white which, I believe, may be an homage to when the line was once part of the Northern Line. The services that run from here have a chequered history, as do most lines, which reflects how London train services have evolved over the last 150 years. This article about the Northern City Line and how services from the now closed Broad Street Station were routed to Moorgate provides the specifics if you are interested.
Having commuted through the station for many a year, I’m quite familiar with its layout and know the shortcuts to take to get to my destinations quickly. Whilst most commuters tend to use the escalators, there is a stairwell from the main concourse down to the lower platforms. I’m glad to see that some effort has now been made to cover the walls in a somewhat attractive iridescent blue tile.
I finish my amble through the station with a visit to platforms 5 and 6. No longer used for passenger services, but once the home of terminating Thameslink services; they are now used for storage. The specific reason for visiting these platforms was to capture the unusual diamond shaped platform signs that were installed in 2013 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the London underground.
The station entrances are on either side of Moorgate with another one opening into Moorfields. That will all change soon as the station will be linked to Liverpool Street station courtesy of the Elizabeth Line. Despite it being a Tuesday, the area is eerily quiet as most city workers have been encouraged to work from home. I wonder if the city will ever recapture its busy feel as multi national and corporate businesses realise performance and profits may not have been adversely affected by the lack of office based staff. Only time will tell.
But the impact of the Elizabeth line can’t be ignored, and I for one was excited when the project finally got off the ground, although who knows when/if it will be finished. I suspect too much has been invested to shelve it now but expect it may remain unfinished for a while.
When I started working in London in 1990, the plans of an east/west line from Shenfield to Reading was very appealing especially given that I live close to the line and commuted into central London. My desire was to have travelled on it before retiring: alas that was not meant to be.
The area surrounding the station has gone through, and continues to be affected by a tremendous amount of disruption with new buildings still under construction. This one in Moorfields will also offer a new entrance into the station accessing existing services and linking to the Elizabeth Line.
Over the years, I’ve noticed one significant and noticeable improvement of London’s building scene, and that is the introduction of the ‘considerate building scheme’. A national initiative set up in 1997 to raise standards in the construction industry. And this is exemplified by this roadside collection of materials, neatly stacked and out of the way so as not to cause obstruction to traffic and pedestrians. Almost an art in itself.
Into the City
So much to see and to learn about in such a small area of London. I can only imagine how two days would never be the same even if I wandered around the same streets. This is what makes London such an exciting place to live in, to visit and to explore. Here’s a short sketch of the things I found today:
Salters’ Garden – this is a hidden gem of a garden flanked on its southern side by parts of the original London Wall, and on its northern side with Salters’ Hall. The Salters’ Company is one of the twelve City of London Livery Companies, and as its name suggests, was borne out of the salt trade. In recent years, it has evolved into a diverse organisation responsible for several charitable foundations in science education. But here’s a thing, the origins of the word ‘salary’ comes from the days when Roman soldiers were given salt rations; and did you know that a soldier failing in battle or falling asleep at his post was “not worth his salt”.
Michael Ayrton’s Minotour – this is a large bronze statue that sits proudly on display next to Salters’ Gardens. The statue has moved around the Barbican over the years due to the area’s continued development. But it’s now back at its original location. Some internet commentators have amusingly suggested that the Minotour’s placement close to the Barbican is a reflection on how difficult it is to navigate your way around the brutalist concrete architecture. You decide…
St Alphage Church – Some of the remains of this church have been preserved around the London Wall adjacent to Salters’ Gardens. You can walk down into the area where the church was, and you can read about its history. There’s an elevated walkway that also provides a birds eye view of the redeveloped London Wall Place which has been created into a ‘destination garden retreat’. See my ‘Picture of the Day’ below for another view of the walkway.
A memorial to John Heminges and Henry Condell – who and where? Behind The Guildhall in a secluded garden where the church of St Mary of Aldermanbury once stood: it’s just by the City of London police station in Wood Street. The two gents, whose names are immortalised on a statue to William Skakespear, are the ones who gave the world the works of Shakespear. After his death, his two friends gathered up all his works and published them at their own expense. Without this act, who knows if the bard’s words would ever have become commonplace?
London’s Alleys and Lanes
One of my earliest memories of walking around the City of London, was on a Saturday morning when the city was effectively closed as there were no office workers about. Surreal in a way as that’s how it was today. Anyway, what struck me was the apparent unstructured way streets were connected by hidden and sometimes twisty lanes and alleys.
And the more I explored, the more interested I became in London’s history as each lane has its own story often reflected by its name. For example, Bread Lane – where all the medieval bakers would be found and Milk Street – again where the medieval milk market was located. Here are three I passed by recently and my thanks goes to City Walks London and IanVisits for their helpful insights:
Ironmonger Lane – before the Great Fire of London in 1666, this was one of only two lanes that gave access to the Guildhall, and it’s name is derived from it being the medieval centre of ironmongers. And although the ironmongers moved to Thames Street, the lane has kept its name. To learn more of it’s interesting history, read the associated link and you’ll find out about St Thomas Becket, London’s medieval ghetto and Saxon and Roman ruins.
Mason’s Avenue – yes, named after the stonemasons whose livery company had an impressive hall here. It wasn’t until 1677 that the Company was formally incorporated by Royal Charter under the seal of King Charles II which gave it authority to control the work of masons in the Cities of London and Westminster and seven miles around. A necessary power in order to control the influx of provincial stonemasons helping with the rebuilding of the capital following the Great Fire in 1666.
Tokenhouse Yard – The origin of the name comes from a time when local traders used “tokens” for sales and purchasing, and the “Token House” was where these tokens could be exchanged for legal tender. The Token House is now home to Gold Investments, but of particular interest is the short tunnel next to the Token House that leads through to an interchange of three narrow alleys: Telegraph Street (named after the pub?), Whalebone Court (named after the location where whalebone was prepared for ladies corsetry) and Copthall Buildings (derivative unknown). The tunnel opens up directly onto a Turkish barbers – ReStyle, and despite being open for business, it was sad to see the area empty and devoid of office workers and pedestrians and I question how such businesses will survive the prolonged ‘work from home’ directive’?
Picture of the Day – St Alphage Highwalk EC2
The walkway is part of the high rise pedestrian walkway through the Barbican and The City which follows, in part, the original ‘London Wall’. It’s beauty is that you can access older parts of London without having to navigate across the busy roads: although I have to admit when I visited (during London’s Tier 2 phase), the City was almost deserted anyway.
The attraction of this picture, for me, is with it’s light and shade tones and its curvy shapes. The meandering walkway, heading off into the distance helps to carry the eye through the picture as if you’re also being taken on a walk. The water grills in the centre give some continuity and help guide you through, and their grill effect complementing the grill like shadow in the foreground.
The different curves, in the foreground seat, and with the walkway’s curve help to soften the shot and act to invite you into the picture
- Location: St Alphage Highwalk EC2, by Salters’ Hall in London Wall Place
- Date/Time: Tuesday 20th October 2020 2:34 pm
- Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 63mm; Film Speed – ISO1000
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