Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Piccadilly past and present

After a two year campaign, my local Tube station, Bounds Green, has been awarded Grade II listed building status by English Heritage. When originally opened in December 1906, the Piccadilly line only ran between Hammersmith and Finsbury Park. In the 1920s it was decided to extend the line east and northwards from Finsbury Park to Cockfosters, with seven other new stations in between. Construction took place between 1930 and 1932, with Bounds Green itself opening on 19 September 1932.

Barry Carpenter's 1992 booklet celebrating the diamond anniversary of the extension noted that when it opened, "This airiness [of the Bounds Green ticket hall], the balacing mass of the adjacent ventilation tower, and the associated shops on the station frontage must have contrasted positively with the seedy LNER station at Bowes Park, whose traffic Bounds Green was to usurp."[1]

On 13 October 1940 a single German bomb demolished houses adjacent to the station, the resultant shockwave causing the collapse of the north end of the westbound platform tunnel, causing the death of seventeen people amongst those sheltering from the air raid, and injuring many more.[2]

Although a number of other stations on the extension have long-since been listed buildings, it is only now that the historic architectural merits of Bounds Green have been "officially" recognised.

A couple of years ago, an utterly unexpected and unique birthday present from Claire was a small set of original 4¼" x 3¼" prints of photographs taken during the tunelling of the extension. Helpfully, all of them are annotated on the back in pencil, presumably by the original photographer. Although unfortunately Bounds Green does not feature in the set, there are views of the construction of one of the platform tunnels at Turnpike Lane.

The full set of photos can be seen on my "Hidden City" webpage, here.

[1] Carpenter, Barry. Piccadilly Line Extension - The Diamond Anniversary. London: Piccadilly Line (East Area), 1992 (page 19).
[2] Analysis of Casualty & Fatality figures - Bounds Green