This is my fifth visit to Stratford station in recent years, travelling as ‘theendoftheline’. The earlier visits were to the end of the Transport for London (TfL) lines (Overground, DLR, Jubilee and International), but today it’s to bring attention to Greater Anglia railways.
It also highlights the growth of the station’s importance as a transport hub serving the east of London into Essex and Hertfordshire, which was enhanced significantly in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.
The station has 17 open platforms, with five running in a north-south direction and all others in an east-west direction. During its growth over the years, platform numbers have changed, but platforms 9 through to 12 serve Greater Anglia railways.
Platforms 9, 10 and 10a are for trains out of Liverpool Street to Norwich, and platforms 11 and 12 for trains from Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford. These give me the legitimacy of my end of the line visit today.
The station has several underground walkways connecting platforms. For the seasoned commuter, you can quickly get in the groove of where to alight to access the right one for your onward journey. However, during the height of the travel restrictions, the station introduced a one-way system, which frustrated some commuters who could no longer take their preferred shortcuts. Thankfully, everything has returned to normal now.
The underground signage is quite good for the casual visitor, but I still see confused travellers trying to work out which platform they need and, more importantly, how to get there. So it seems TfL still needs to give more thought to their signage.
On arriving at the station, I was unsure which operating company managed the station as it’s branded online as a National Rail station. However, TfL operates its day to day running, and it was to them I sought permission to take photographs. As there is no obvious station reception, an enquiry at one of the ticket offices led me to platform eight, where TfL have an office. The helpful operator was happy for me to explore the station, having explained my interest was more Greater Anglia related, with the usual ‘no flash and no tripod’ mantra that is the norm for rail enthusiasts.
Despite being the busiest station in the UK in the last 12 months, there are still quiet moments. This photo is a view from Platform 9 looking west, with Platform 8 on the left where TfLRail trains head eastbound to Shenfield. For the rail enthusiast, you’ll see Channelsea Curve is on the right-hand side, which serves London Overground services to Clapham Junction and Richmond.
And it’s here I met David, a young rail enthusiast trying out his new camera. I didn’t ask why he wasn’t in school, as I listened intently to the excitement of his plans to head up to Alexandra Palace later in the day to espy the Eurostar service.
The station opens up onto the bus terminal and across the road from the indoor market. It’s busy with commuters travelling in all directions and those generally milling around in what has become a social gathering spot. The main entrance often has chuggers targeting their prey to sign up for unlimited cash and a vagrant or two too.
The vast expanse of the Westfield-Stratford Link Bridge is always busy, and despite the ‘no cycling, no skateboarding’ signs, it seems little heed is taken by those ignoring the signs and equally those patrolling the area. And so it can be pretty dangerous when cyclists zoom past at speed, weaving through the crowds of commuters and shoppers.
This long exposure shot aims to blur the shoppers and commuters making their way across the bridge, emulating a busy location. No one loiters or dawdles because if they did, they’d get washed away with the crowds of people walking along.
The Lea Valley Line is a name given to the railway lines that run along the River Lea and includes the service from Stratford to Meridian Water (Enfield). Much work was carried out in the late 2010s to improve and increase the rail service to Enfield, whose council is investing significantly to create new jobs and provide housing and leisure facilities in the area. To that end, Meridian Water station was opened in 2019, resulting in the closure of the nearby Angel Road station. But more on that when I visit this station.
I decided to hop on the Meridian Water service for a one-stop to Lea Bridge station and have a look around as I believed I had already exhausted my exploration of Stratford’s surrounding neighbourhood through my earlier visits.
After closing in 1985, a new station reopened at Lea Bridge in 2016 with some trains en route to Meridian Water and others to Bishop’s Stortford. The surrounding area is mixed, so I set off to the station’s west, where some abandoned works and light industries are adjacent to the station.
Research reveals that this photo is of a Merilene Heating System by The Kestner Evaporator & Engineering Co Ltd, Greenhithe. Believed to be used as part of a low heat industrial process, but there are no records to explain what process. The tall chimney is, at a guess, to divert smoke away from the station. However, its historical significance is referenced in an article by the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society.
Just over the railway bridge on Lea Bridge Road, there’s a grand building with what appears to be two greyhounds guarding the roofline. Unfortunately, I can’t find any reference, but I wonder if there’s any connection to the former Millfields Road greyhound racing stadium.
The stadium, which stood nearby, was also known as Clapton Stadium and was the home of Clapton Orient (now Leyton Orient) and developed in the late 1920s for greyhound racing. The stadium closed in 1969, and property developers bought the land in the 1980s.
As I head back east, I stop and pause on the bridge and spare a thought for Adam Coulson and his Family. A hit and run driver tragically killed Adam in 2017, and his memory lives on through a shrine on the bridge.
My journey continues east along Lea Bridge Road as far as Markhouse Road. It’s a semi-residential area interspersed with independent shops and a few parades. Here are a few of my discoveries:
Leyton Municipal Borough Council Electricity Department – An extract from the National Archives reveals that the electricity supply in Leyton began in 1896, with supply to the Leyton Corporation tramways being made available from 1906. The growth in domestic use increased from 110 to 29,137 customers between 1896 and 1946.
Art by Joefur – This is on a corner shop in Belvedere Road, off Lea Bridge Road and opposite the Esso garage. The striking black and white artwork is a little hidden by overhead scaffolding, but it’s well worth a good look.
Joe has a distinctive surrealist style, and this piece is entitled ‘William Morries Mural E10 2018’. Thankfully, it has passed the test of time as it is still visible for all to enjoy three years later. I love discovering London’s street art and helping to promote artists’ creativity.
Stronger Together – On the corner of Sanderstead Road and Lea Bridge Road, this brightly coloured neon mural jumps at you. What does it mean: Labour’s strapline or the anti-slavery tag? Maybe something else, but stand back and admire the artistry.
This mural was created for the 2020 London Mural Festival by a pioneer in the exploration of graffiti letterforms – Ben Eine and the lettering artist Rachel Joy Price. Go check them out.
Lea Bridge Stadium – Photographically, this isn’t a stunner, but it’s a memory of a past sporting event. The stadium was originally the home of speedway, and then Clapton Orient football club sharing the ground during the 1930s.
Clapton Orient is now known as Leyton Orient. The club moved to its current ground in Brisbane Road in 1937 and changed its name after World War II. The ground here is abandoned and derelict, with little of the turf remaining with some of the land used by Saffron Kitchen.
The former Savoy Cinema and Gala Bingo – now the home of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship group. On the corner of Lea Bridge Road and Church Road, the original Savoy cinema opened on Boxing Day in 1928, and it is famed for showing the first talking picture in the area in 1929.
But, as with many independent cinemas, its fate passed through the hands of United Pictures, Gaumont, Odeon, Curzon, Classic and Gala Bingo until its sale to Potters House in 2012. The facade, thankfully, remains untouched, and it’s what makes it one of today’s high street’s lost architectural legacies.
Picture of the Day – Platform 10a
This shot shows an almost deserted platform, and it’s somewhat symbolic of the continuing restrictions in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. The platform forms a concrete triangle with platform 11, which serves the Greater Anglia line with trains to Meridian Water and Bishop’s Stortford.
I’ve cropped the image so that the overhead footbridge appears to join the two stairwells together. I’ve also enhanced the black and white effect to create a somewhat industrial ruggedness. The solitary passenger making their way along an otherwise empty platform evokes a feeling of emptiness.
- Location: Platform 10a Stratford Station
- Date/Time: Monday 29th November 2021 2:53 pm
- Settings: Camera – Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ3.5; Shutter Speed – 1/60; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO100
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