#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