Why Are The Platforms At Angel So Wide?

Ever noticed the whopping great width of the southbound platform at Angel tube station? Passengers are allocated around twice as much space as the trains, in marked contrast to other stations where it’s more like 50/50. A similar thing happens at Euston.

The reason is simple. Angel and Euston used to have island platforms, as still sported at Clapham Common and Clapham North stations.

Such a set-up just about functions in Clapham, but was a major headache at busier Angel and Euston. The narrow waiting space — just 3.7m — soon became overcrowded and potentially dangerous.

Both stations were reworked: Euston during the construction of the Victoria line in the 1960s, and Angel in the early 1990s. In each case, one side of the island platform was filled in, creating a double-width platform. Trains were diverted into a newly excavated section of running track.

At Angel, the major engineering didn’t stop there. The unreliable lifts were removed and a new station entrance was built on Upper Street, some distance from the original entry on City Road. This required a set of extra-length escalators, which remain the longest on the network.

What’s The Best Seat On The Tube?

Photo by Ged Dackys from the Londonist Flickr pool.

Most of the time we’re packed into an Underground carriage and will take any seat we can get. But what about those halcyon moments when we’re greeted by an empty carriage and a plethora of locations to posit our derrieres? Maybe you’re travelling off-peak; maybe you live at the end of a line and this is an everyday occurrence? Whatever the case, there are seats aplenty.

But which seat is the best to pick? There are so many factors to take into consideration. Let us take you through them and explore the many facets of this conundrum.

The priority seat

It’s the obvious choice. Nearest the exit, only have to sit next to one person and a nice glass panel to lean against. But it’s rightly there for those less able to stand. So we run the risk of being required to give it up once the train is heaving and there are no other seats available. Now we stand when once we lorded over all our seating possibilities.

The second one in

The next best option. Sure we’ve now got a person either side, but at least we’re still near the exit. This means we don’t have to push past lots of others to get out. The drawback: those who love the priority seat will sit next to us even when there are plenty of other seats available. To these people we say «No! Always respect the one seat gap where possible!». Of course we’re far too polite/pathetic to ever say this to their faces. And we have a special look of hatred for those in the priority seat who don’t give it up when they should, thus requiring us to be the ones who make way.

«We have a special look of hatred for those in the priority seat who don’t give it up when they should».

In the middle

This may seem like a duff choice as we’re stuck in the commuter crush. But we’re getting off at London Bridge where half the train empties anyway. Plus we’re unlikely to have to give up our seat and as carriages tend to fill up from the outside in, we’re most likely to have empty seats either side of us. Could this be the one?

The others

For reasons of simplicity we’ve only covered the standard bank of seats that exist on all tube trains. We’re well aware that on the Overground the choice is obvious — the brilliant middle seat with a glass panel next to it. And we all hate sitting down on those hard and uncomfortable fold down seats.

So which seat is your favourite? Or is it all too much, and do you just end up standing to avoid the hassle?

England’s first double-decker hydrogen buses to launch in London

The only direct emission of the new bus is water

England’s first fleet of hydrogen powered double-decker buses are set to be introduced in London.

Twenty of the vehicles, which produce no pollution from their exhausts, will serve the number 7 route between East Acton and Oxford Circus.

Transport for London already has more than 500 electric buses in its fleet as it aims to be zero-emission by 2030.

The new buses can be charged once a day within five minutes and the only direct by-product is water.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: «We have made real progress in London to clean up our air, but we still have a long way to go because toxic air pollution in our city is still leading to thousands of premature deaths every year and is stunting the growth of children’s lungs. 

«Our investment in these hydrogen buses is not only helping us to clean up London’s air, but is supporting jobs and local economics across the UK.»

Why Are King’s Cross And St Pancras Stations So Close To One Another?

The pair. Photo by David McKelvey in the Londonist flickr pool.

The National Rail app — famously conservative in its estimations of how long it takes to get from one part of London to another — suggests just one minute for a changeover between King’s Cross and St Pancras railway stations.

Straddling the east and west sides of Pancras Road, the pair are literally a stone’s throw apart (although we haven’t put that to the test).

And their names are both totally representative of this shared area in which they find themselves; St Pancras being the older term for this part of London, but King’s Cross arguably the more widespread (and notorious).

They even share a tube stop, for goodness’ sake.

So why were these two grand old railway terminals built to be separate, rather than as some sort of integrated mega-hub?

For the answer, you have to go right back to the 19th century, to London’s early railway history.

A picture postcard of King’s Cross in 1906. Courtesy of the London Transport Museum collection.
King’s Cross, between 1923 and 1930. Courtesy of Transport for London at the London Transport Museum.

King’s Cross is the more senior of the two stations. Built by the Great Northern Railway, it opened in 1852. Quaintly, it had just two platforms then: one for arrivals, the other for departures.

Back in the early Victorian era, businessmen competed with one another to bring the railway to new parts of the country. (In fact, the Underground ended up being a microcosm of this, with different firms racing to build new lines across London.)

The Great Northern Railway would have seen the likes of the Midland Railway as a rival. Midland spent years borrowing platforms at King’s Cross and Euston, before eventually pouncing on some land to build its own terminus. And that’s why there are two separate stations.

And as to why they were so close, it was a simple matter of land availability in a rapidly-growing metropolis. The site chosen for St Pancras required a pretty brutal clearance process, but crucially, Midland Railway had a lot of help from the Government.

The job meant flattening houses in a district called Agar Town, as well as bridging Regent’s Canal, ploughing through the St Pancras burial ground (a young aspiring writer named Thomas Hardy helped with the exhumations), and even moving a church to east London.

The ‘Hardy tree’ in St Pancras Old Churchyard — where the future novelist helped pile up gravestones while clearing space for the railway. Photo by Louis Berk in the Londonist flickr pool.

Along came St Pancras, opened in 1868. Five years later, George Gilbert Scott’s iconic hotel building was erected in an attempt to outshine King’s Cross — not to mention Paddington and Charing Cross.

Scott’s idea seemed too ludicrous to win the design competition — precisely why the rail bosses loved it so much.

The St Pancras Renaissance Hotel — as it’s known nowadays. Photo by Darrell Godliman in the Londonist flickr pool.

So, every time you see his spectacular gothic-revival frontage, remember that it was born of a spirit of one-upmanship that prevailed during the age of industrialism.

And that’s the same reason these two stations were built independently of one another.

That almost certainly wouldn’t have happened a century later, when the railways were collectively under government control. Indeed, an idea was mooted in the 1960s to merge the two stations, perhaps demolishing both. Only a campaign by John Betjeman saved St Pancras.

But disuse and dilapidation meant that station struggled through the late 20th century. The hotel was turned into office space, then fell empty. British Rail tried to sell off the old station clock but accidentally smashed it in the process.

Refurbishment in 2007 gave the station a new lease of life; it now hosts Eurostar, and its hotel is a hotel again. Even Thameslink services were re-routed from King’s Cross to a pair of new platforms under St Pancras.

Modern St Pancras International is a far cry from the neglected and dilapidated St Pancras of the 1990s. Photo by Anatoleya in the Londonist flickr pool.
… Although the King’s Cross of today ain’t bad either. Photo by Adrian Chandler in the Londonist flickr pool.

St Pancras got Paris. King’s Cross got Harry Potter. Safe to say there’s life in that old rivalry yet.

The Lovely London Beach You Can Get To On The Tube • Ruislip Lido

There are beaches near London, but then there are beaches IN London! Just the one of them, mind you: Ruislip Lido.

Ruislip Lido is a 60-acre lake sat on the edge of a lovely 726-acre nature reserve – that’s twice the size of Hyde Park, stats fans. Ruislip Woods National Nature Reserve is, as you might guess, mostly bucolic ancient woodland.

Head through the forest to reach the lake…

And on the southern edge you’ll find a miraculous beach!

Dating back to the 1950s, this tropical spot has had its ups and downs over the years, lapsing into some heinous disrepair during the ’70s before being returned to its current glory in the 2000s. Now it’s a popular spot for families, locals and anyone looking for a bit of faux-seaside fun.

And that’s not all. As well as climbing frames, play areas and a little café for ice creams, there’s even a miniature train that’ll take you on a fun little trip around the lake. Transit goals!

It’s an indisputably cute reason to push your Oyster Card to the limits and head out to Zone 6 – it’s an hour from central London, door-to-door, with a tube journey to Ruislip Station, and then a choice of two buses to take you the rest of the way.

There are, however, a couple of important things we ought to point out before you grab your bucket and spade. First, swimming and boating are not permitted at the lake, which does make the whole ‘Ruslip Lido‘ a bit of a misnomer. (Consider a trip to one of London’s outdoor pools if you want to splash around.) Meanwhile, on a sunny bank holiday or summer weekend, let’s just say it can get a little bit busy…

9 Secrets Of Paddington Station

Paddington railway station was built as the terminus of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Western Railway in the 1830s. Perhaps you travel through it regularly — but how well do you really know it?

Photo: oatsy40

1. The area was once owned by someone called Padda

Paddington station is named after the wider area of Paddington (the bear, in turn, is named after the station). The name originates from Anglo-Saxon times. Padda is believed to refer to a local land owner, with ‘ton’ or ‘tun’ meaning ‘the village of’.

2. It was the destination of Queen Vic’s first train trip

Queen Victoria became the first reigning monarch to travel by train in 1842, heading from Slough to Paddington after a trip to Windsor Castle.The reason for her deviance from road travel, according to the Dublin Evening Mail:

«In consequence of the annoyance, from the extremely dusty state of the road between here and London, to which Her Majesty was subjected in her progress from Buckingham Palace to the castle».

Prince Albert was with Vic on the trip, but it wasn’t his first experience of railway travel (show off). Railway engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was also on the royal charter train, but he travelled in the cab with the driver (bigger show off).

Following this inaugural trip into Paddington, Queen Victoria became a regular on the railways due to her frequent trips to Windsor Castle.

Arriving at Paddington. Photo: Everita

3. It’s inspired by another London building

Paddington station was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as part of his plans for the Great Western Railway. When designing his new station, he was inspired by the construction of Crystal Palace, housed in nearby Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851, hence the abundance of glass and metal in the station’s design.

4. It used to be in a different place

The original Paddington station opened on 4 June 1838 on a site to the west of what is now Bishop’s Bridge Road, using the arches of the bridge to house passenger facilities. In May 1854, the new station opened in its current location.

During Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s planning of the original station, he was forced to scale back his plans due to spiralling costs. A few years later, rail travel was becoming so popular, the larger station was needed after all.

5. The roof isn’t original

The three original roof spans and the later addition. Photo: Dan Brown

When the new station was opened in 1854, the roof consisted of three arches, or spans, making it the largest train shed roof in the world at the time.

In 1916, cover was needed for platforms 9-12 (now 9-16), so a fourth span was added. Surprisingly, Brunel’s original glass roof survived until the 1990s, when it was replaced by polycarbonate panels in a refurbishment.

6. The secret train service

Did you know about the parliamentary train service which runs from Paddington to West Ruislip once a day on weekdays?

7. Seen the multi-story horse stables?

Ever noticed the steep ramps around St Mary’s Hospital opposite the station, particularly the Mint Wing? They’re remnants from the days when the building housed multi storey stables for the horses that worked on the railways at Paddington — up to 600 horses at any one time.

The building remained as stables until the 1950s when it became a research laboratory.

Photo: Peter Turvey

8. It’s on a rock record

The background track of Supertramp’s 1974 single Rudy was recorded at Paddington station. It includes an announcement that ‘the 19.45 train to Bristol Temple Meads will depart from platform two, calling at Reading, Didcot, Swindon, Chippenham, Bath Spa, and Bristol Temple Meads.’

9. You can buy a ticket to Ireland

From Paddington station, you can buy yourself a ticket to Rosslare Europort and other selected stations near Wexford in Ireland. No, there’s not an Irish equivalent of the Channel Tunnel — it involves getting to Fishguard Harbour by train, and then taking a ferry to Rosslare — but the one ticket covers it all.

8 Secrets Of Liberty

Liberty exterior, 2013. Photo: Paul

The Carnaby store, also known as Liberty’s, Liberty of London and Liberty & Co is the work of Arthur Lasenby Liberty, who took over half of a Regent Street shop in 1875. Some 18 months later, the business was doing so well that he acquired the other half.Over the next decades, more departments were added to the store, and in 1924 the Great Marlborough Street shop was built to allow renovations to take place in the other premises, which were sold off in 2009.

The building

Beautiful building isn’t it? Despite looking like it hails from Tudor times, the current Great Marlborough Street building was built in 1924, seven years after Arthur Lasenby Liberty died, and is now Grade II* listed.The timbers come from two ships, the HMS Impregnable (formerly known as HMS Howe and once the largest ship in the world) and the HMS Hindustan. The Great Marlborough Street frontage of the store is the same length as HMS Hindustan. The interior was designed to have a homely feel, with small rooms surrounding three central light wells. Many of the individual rooms had fireplaces, some of which are still intact.

War memorial

Look out for the war memorial on the staircase. Photo: Londonist

Ever walked up the wooden staircase at one end of the building? On the walls are wooden carved war memorials, dedicated to Liberty staff who lost their lives in wars.

The bridge

Ever wondered why a pedestrian bridge over Kingly Street links Liberty to a building on Regent Street which is not part of Liberty? These were the original buildings where Liberty started his retail empire. Today, Cos, Desigual and Gap occupy the building.On the bridge is the St George Clock, which was restored in 2010. At each quarter of the hour George chases the dragon around the clock, and on the hour he slays the dragon. (The Fortnum & Mason clock is pretty impressive too.)

The weathervane

The Liberty weathervane. Photo: Terry Moran

Liberty’s nautical theme continues in the weathervane, a gold coloured ship which sits above the entrance on Great Marlborough Street. The weathervane is a replica of The Mayflower, which transported Pilgrims to the New World in 1620.

The PR stunt that backfired

Liberty has always specialised in Oriental goods — as far back as the 1880s, Indian silks were imported to the store, and the rug department is well-known today.In 1885, Arthur Lasenby Liberty brought a village of 42 Indians to London and staged a ‘living village’ of Indian artisan producers in Battersea Park, with the aim of selling more of these products. However, the public were concerned about the way the villagers were being put on display, and the stunt backfired. But the Indian visitors did get a trip to Mansion House while they were here:

Reynolds’s Newspaper — Sunday 1 November 1885 Image © The British Library Board

Other cities

London’s not the only city to have had a Liberty. In the mid 1950s, the store opened a branch in Manchester, followed by Bath, Brighton, Chester, York and Norwich, peaking at 20 regional stores around the UK. The closure of these regional branches was announced in 1996.

The Allurement of Liberty’s

So was titled an article in the London News of 7 January 1907, which went on to talk of the store’s post-Christmas sales thus:»A dazzling dream of colour in all its infinite variety that in itself makes one of the most magnificent etalages in London, a vision that only the poetic faculty of the artist could have devised — that is what we have learned to associated with a sale at Liberty’s… Liberty are once more furnishing us with that feast of exquisite hues for which their house is so widely famed.»It certainly sounds a lot more civilised than modern day post-Christmas sales.

Oscar Wilde was a fan

The writer was a regular customer of Liberty, and a friend of the store’s founder, Arthur Lasenby Liberty. Wilde once said: «Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper.» Praise indeed.

THE AGE OF THE ICONIC ROUTEMASTER RED LONDON BUS IS OFFICIALLY OVER

The Red Routemaster Red London Buses are a London icon. Even after they ended their regular services over a decade ago, the allure and fame of the bus has continued. In a bid to respect this heritage Transport for London kept a few going on ‘heritage’ routes in Central London so tourists and enthusiasts could still ride them. Now, those days are officially over.

The heritage routes were stopped during the COVID-19 Outbreak, and it appears that they simply will not be resuming when London opens back up completely.

Someone filed a Freedom of Information request with Transport for London to find out the status of the buses – you can read the whole thing here – but the key bit of information is here:

«We discontinued with the 15H for reasons including falling ridership on the Central London network and because it is the only part of the fleet that does not provide step-free access. The buses have a high step up to the rear platform and cannot be accessed by wheelchair users and with a difficulty by those with mobility issues. The heritage service on route 15H is not required for capacity purposes and does not provide any unique links.»

This was basically the reason they were initially withdrawn from service years ago, but they were kept around for tourists (they designed a ‘new’ Routemaster that is accessible but it doesn’t have nearly the enthusiasm as the old buses). Now, it appears they’re leaning into the accessibility reason for the excuse to stop them altogether.

All good things must come to an end, as they say.

Fear not, there are still a few Routemasters in private ownership that still run the buses on special tours and experience around London. But the days of an official Transport for London Routemaster bus route are over. You’ll no longer be able to hop on for the standard bus fare and cruise around London in classic style. I will miss the calming sounds of a London Routemaster engine.

Portraits Of Henry VIII And The Women In His Life Vs. What They’d Look Like Today

History can be fascinating, but how do you relate to historical figures who inhabited such vastly different time periods? We can picture the lives, daily struggles, and in some cases even the internal monologues of famous historical figures, but when we try to see the figures themselves, all we have to go on are stuffy descriptions, old portraits (if we’re lucky), and maybe a Hollywood actor’s portrayal. One artist is helping to fix that.

Becca Saladin runs Royalty Now, and her passion for art, history, design, and Photoshop is bringing history to life for thousands of followers on social media. Becca says she modernizes portraits of people from the past so that «we can learn about the past with a little more empathy for the figures involved.»

These portraits bring us a step closer to relating to the women in the life of Henry VIII, as well as the king himself, and reveal what they may have looked like in a modern context. These portraits, and more of Becca Saladin’s work, can be found on the Royalty Now Instagram and Etsy store. You can see the process behind the portraits on her YouTube channel.

Catherine Of Aragon

The first wife of King Henry VIII.

  • Age: Dec. at 50 (1485-1536)
  • Birthplace: Alcalá de Henares, Spain

Anne Of Cleves

The fourth wife of King Henry VIII.

  • Age: Dec. at 41 (1515-1557)
  • Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Germany

Mary Boleyn

Anne Boleyn’s sister, and mistress of Henry VIII.

  • Age: Dec. at 44 (1499-1543)
  • Birthplace: Blickling Hall, United Kingdom

Catherine Howard

The fifth wife of King Henry VIII.

  • Age: Dec. at 21 (1521-1542)
  • Birthplace: London, United Kingdom

Henry VIII Of England

The second Tudor monarch.

  • Age: Dec. at 55 (1491-1547)
  • Birthplace: Palace of Placentia, London, United Kingdom

Jane Seymour

The third wife of King Henry VIII.

  • Age: Dec. at 29 (1508-1537)
  • Birthplace: Wulfhall, United Kingdom

Catherine Parr

The sixth and final wife of King Henry VIII.

  • Age: Dec. at 36 (1512-1548)
  • Birthplace: Blackfriars, London, London, United Kingdom

Anne Boleyn

The second wife of King Henry VIII.

  • Age: Dec. at 35 (1501-1536)
  • Birthplace: Hever, United Kingdom