06 February, 2011

The North London Line

Stratford to Richmond might be considered to be not the journey most people would like to make (or the other way round) but there is a railway line that runs between those two places, taking in various others. I wanted to use the line and by a happy chance was able to do so today. Except that it wasn't running and a replacement bus service was in operation, Stratford to Hampstead Heath and Hampstead Heath to Gunnersbury. For the sake of completeness I took the service bus to Richmond from Gunnersbury. All in all the journey took three hours by bus. The only benefit was that it was free, indoors and at least had the potential to be warm.

Begining at a bleak bus stop in Stratford I secured the prime top front seat, not that there was any competition for that prime look out. From West Ham to Bow was as dreary as always with factories nestled close to new flats, seemingly repeating the mistakes of the Victorians in town planning and a deliberate thumbed nose at Patrick Abercrombie. Entering Hackney things became more interesting: I have just bought a book about the twentieth century Buildings of Hackney and saw some examples of these en route, including the Rio Cinema, in Dalston High Street, The Beckers Council Estate and Haggerston Baths. The route meandered on through Canonbury and Gospel Oak to the bit of Hampstead near the Heath Station with its spectacular underground public lavatory where I had to change bus.
From Travels around London

From places of worship

We drove through some more uninteresting suburbs and Park Royal industrial estate and came to Old oak estate, an early LCC development of cottages, very small cottages for London workers. Planned on garden city lines and with interesting house forms the estate is picturesque and seems to have worn well.

Eventually, after another change of busses at Gunnersbury I came to Richmond and a happy ending. I kept warm and dry for 3 hours on an otherwise dull afternoon.

Welwyn Garden City

After Letchworth comes Welwyn. Letchworth was founded in 1902 and so could take advantage of depressed land prices and few building restrictions. By the time Welwyn was begun in 1920 landowners had got wise to the fact that if people wanted to build a new town there had to be something in it for them. Eventually the state took over Welwyn and designated it a new town in the years after the second world war.

You enter Welyn Garden City through the Howard Shopping Centre, with the station built in. You find the usual shop suspects here and leave to go into a wide grassed area terminating in a fountain. This fountain is on Parkway which is a broad grassed boulevard leading up to the library and theatre. The houses are in classic garden city style and the master planning architect was Louis De Soissons.

The Church of St Francis (Church of England) was also designed by Louis De Soissons and has a very wide table - you could have about six clergy standing behind it. The church is quite plain but has a relief of st Francis above the former door.

There are various works of art around the town and a town trail incorporating a cheap cottages exhibition, but I didn't really have a lot of daylight left to do that in.

A really dull day for pictures though so no good ones