Sunday, 24 July 2011
Sunday, 20 February 2011
Sunday, 13 February 2011
Councillor Greg Smith Member for Resident Services sees the archives as a luxury used by too few to justify its continued existence:
What I would say, however, is that this is not a closure – it is a different way of providing access in the short term until a permanent and affordable solution can be found (likely to be a service provided across the three boroughs of Westminster City, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham).Those three are some of London's smallest boroughs with Hammersmith & Fulham measuring one mile wide and five miles from the Grand Union Canal to the Thames. Councillor Smith envisages a small fee payable for someone to come in and open up. But I for one don't know where everything is and you can't just have anyone blundering around the strong room, which contains such treasures as the facsimile World War II bomb maps - the above showing bomb damage in the Brook Green area, the lighter the colour the lighter the damage - yellow indicating broken windows and loosened roof tiles, all the way up to black for obliteration. Note the two 1944 V1 rocket strikes on Blythe Road, just behind the Post Office Savings Bank building west of Olympia.
Losing Jane and Anne will mean goodbye to years of local expertise. The two of them have helped heighten the local knowledge of residents. In my experience giving residents unrestricted access to local records and treasures from the history of their localities, enriches their appreciation of their neighbourhoods, and helps maintain everything from consumer confidence in local economies to neighbourliness and enjoyment of life.
Greg Smith says an effort will be made to put some of the Borough's collection on display at Fulham Palace and Fulham Library.
So, we have until the month's end to make the most of Jane Kimber and Anne Wheeldon's encyclopaedic knowledge of a fascinating corner of West London. Get on down there everyone!
Friday, 3 September 2010
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Everything has now been smashed up and recycled and now you are looking at the biggest construction site in Europe, a brown field hard-hat site that is now rapidly going green as the landscaping gets a grip. The test events start next summer. It all has to work. We can't afford another Heathrow Terminal 5.
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Underground is where the dead people are so London’s subterranean railway has more than its fairshare of folk tales and urban myths.
I visited the London Transport Museum Depot last Friday, with other Blue Badge tourist guides. This visit helped debunk many urban myths about the tube.
No, there isn’t an automatic slow switch just outside Mansion House station, so trains have to brake reverentially for the Lord Mayor of London.
No, the reason they stopped guided visits to the abandoned Down Street station isn't because of the Down Street station ghost. It's because the last tour they organised, everyone duly signed the Health and Safety doc regarding physical ability to descend and climb dozens of stairs. At the last minute someone got themselves squeezed onto the list, who didn't sign, and who couldn't climb the stairs back to the surface; a passing tube train had to be hailed for ambulance duties.
No, the elegant Bethnal Green art deco platform clock won't be removed to the Museum, unless it gets vandalised – the preference is always to leave equipment ‘out there on the system’ wherever possible.
And no, there aren’t enough engineers coming through education these days – so there’s an initiative called TfLInspire, to encourage more kids to get out of media studies and into heavy engineering.
What more inspirational than the tantalising fragments of a 'spiral escalator', possibly from the 1920s - no-one knows! - found at the bottom of a lift-shaft at Holloway Road station.
The Museum Depot is the reserve collection for the Covent Garden Transport Museum. It is opposite Acton Town tube and is bookable for specialist guided tours. It is open weekly to school groups and has 2 – 3 Open Days a year. Check the website if you would like to ride one of the vintage tube trains which are occasionally sent out onto the system as a treat for the cognoscenti.
Some of whom must be the Volunteers - retired ticket masters, switch engineers and system designers, who just won’t let go, and donate their free time to restoration projects.
The Depot is packed with treats . Check out station paraphernalia from destinations you use every day in the modern city – how about the Victorian wrought iron entrance to High Street Kensington station. Where was that exactly?
As you approach the main entrance to the Museum, on the right of the drive way is cradled in a wooden frame a stretch of intricate wrought iron gates and railings, bearing City of London livery: how elegant London must have been in the 1930s!
It’s not all about tubes – buses and trams are well represented. One reason London trams died in 1956 was because they used the centre of the street – people got killed crossing the road to catch the tram.
By the way, the famous tube roundel wasn’t designed as such but rather evolved over the years, growing out of a bullseye device designed to draw the eye to the name of the station. Recently an Arsenal station tin sign sold for £10k at auction – the value is enhanced if the sign has actually been on the station.
If London has a corporate look, then here it is in Acton in the 1930s work of Frank Pick. The 2012 Games will of course sparkle up London’s attractiveness, but this city is increasingly being seen as a ‘mature destination’ – meaning London will need to work harder to sell itself in the years ahead, and a valuable part of the marketing should be the re-instatement across London of the Frank Pick ‘look’.
I had to leave early, leaving the tour of question-firing Blue Badge guides. So I was thwarted of my chance to have my favourite tube-myth debunked. That weird S bend you detect when travelling between South Ken and Knightsbridge. It doesn't feature on any of the Museum's maps of the true tube routes printed prior to 1933 when Harry Beck's famous systematic version arrived - I looked! Is it (as I was told as a gullible new comer to London in 1975), because of the need to avoid a Medieval plague pit?
So (peaked) hats off to Richard Bench, Depot Manager ‘I’m not a curator!’). The poor man must have been knackered sharing the afternoon with a troop of anecdote laden London Blue Badge tourist guides.
What a London treasure house the Museum Depot is!