Thursday, April 16, 2015

Maida Vale

Maida Vale Station is roughly midway on the Bakerloo line and opened in 1915 as part of the extension of the line to Queen's Park. The station is a listed building being of architectural and historical interest. 

Inside the building, above the concourse are two mosaic roundels.

On the outside the station is tiled in the familiar ox-blood red with the name in large letters above the curved windows.

Round the corner on Randolph Avenue the windows still display the signs for Cigars and Tobacco

On leaving the station I was struck by the wide avenues with numerous large mansion blocks. Mansion blocks were a way of providing  luxurious homes for the huge increase in the population of wealthy workers,  following the Industrial Revolution throughout Europe. This type of housing was not that popular with Londoners thinking that living so close to your neighbours increased the risk of disease. It was also thought that having the reception rooms on the same level as bedrooms would just encourage loose morals. The land around here was owned by the Church Commissioners who were determined that any housing would be for the upper middle classes rather than risk the wrong sort of people moving into the area. However the Commissioners decided that building mansion blocks instead of housing would be far more profitable but waited until after the recession of the 1880s and built the first mansion block in Maida Vale in 1897.

This delay meant that the  preservation of a large part of the estate had taken place and  Paddington Recreation Ground was formed. Although the Commissioners fought hard to build on this land, a high profile  public campaign won the day. Today this area is well used.

Other types of housing close to the station include two rows of Mews. This is Elgin Mews South of the station.

And Elgin Mews North of the station.

Walking South from the station to Warrington Crescent I came across the Warrington Hotel. This hotel/restaurant/pub looks magnificent from the outside and peering in through the windows looks just as wonderful inside. It was too early for me to stop for a drink but this has to be a place to revisit. I have heard there is a wonderful Tiffany window that is waiting for me to photograph so I hope to return here soon. I have discovered that it is a grade II listed building dating from 1857. Rumour has it that it used to be an upmarket brothel.

On the same road is the house where David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973),the first Prime Minister of Israel lived as a young man.

Within a few minutes walk of the station you can find different places of worship. This is Lauderdale Road Spanish and Portuguese Synogogue.

Next to the Forty Tree Green is St Augustine's Church

Then just around the corner on Maida Vale is the Islamic Centre of England

On the wall of St George's Catholic school is this memorial plaque to a very brave man who came to the aid of one of his pupils who was being attacked outside the school by a young man with a knife. He saved the pupil's life but sadly lost his own. The murderer was found and convicted.

On the way back to the station I walked past this early 20th Cent building which in the 1930s became the BBC Maida Vale Studios home to the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC singers,

Arriving back at the station  I saw this original sign showing the stations the tube would stop at going South. The stations in bold print are the ones that connect with other underground lines.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Warwick Avenue

Warwick Avenue is one of only three stations that have added words on the roundel: for Little Venice. The other stations are Charing Cross for Trafalgar Square and Ladbroke Grove for Portobello Road. The station was opened in January 1915 when the Bakerloo line was extended from Paddington to Queen's Park.

There are no above ground buildings for this station and it is accessed by two sets of steps.

You emerge from the station into suburbia. Although not that far, distance wise, from Central London, it seems like another world of quiet, residential streets and large Victorian and Edwardian houses.

Next to the Underground is a cab shelter.

This is Warwick Avenue, the road that the station is on. It is just a short walk down Warwick Avenue to where the Paddington arm of the Grand Union canal meets the Regent's Canal and is known as Little Venice. The name was coined by Robert Browning the poet and it has come to refer to not just the canal but the area surrounding the canal.

This is the Pool of Little Venice also known as Browning's pool named after Robert Browning who lived overlooking the Canal

Alongside the canal is Rembrandt Garden, renamed on 2nd May 1975 to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the founding of the city of Amsterdam.

This is the Bridge House pub which overlooks the canal. It is unusual as it has a small theatre above the pub specialising in comedy and new writers.

Standing on the Westbourne Terrace Road Bridge you look down onto the canal and the old Toll House which dates from 1812.

On the Bridge is this blue plaque. The parish of Paddington became a metropolitan borough of London in 1900. In 1965 the borough of Paddington was abolished and the area became part of the London Borough of Westminster, which for historic reasons is always called the City of Westminster.

Walking alongside the canal you can see the many narrowboats moored there. Lots of them seem to have permanent moorings looking at the shrubs and flowers that have been planted next to the private towpath.

A little further down the canal is the Maida Hill Tunnel (251m), one of only three tunnels on the Regent's canal. The other  two being Islington Tunnel (886m) and the much smaller Eyre's tunnel (48m). Building on the tunnel began in 1812. To get through the tunnels, men had to lie on their backs on planks of wood and walk the barge through. Above the tunnel is a restaurant which is a great place for watching the boats travelling down the canal.

This is the  view of the restaurant from the Edgware Road.

The Edgware Road is full of these large mansion sized buildings, built to house the rich middle classes as London's population increased in the 18th Cent.

I turned off the Edgware Road onto Clifton Road and came across this row of interesting and independent shops.

The Eagle , a mid Victorian pub with its decorative iron balcony.

This is the Colonnade Hotel on Warrington Crescent  Built in 1865 as two separate Victorian houses it was converted into a  boarding school fifteen years later. It remained as a school for over 80 years before becoming a hospital for women in 1886. It was here that Alan Turing was born in 1912.

Alan Turing was credited with breaking the Enigma code which led to the beginning of the end of WW2. If you have seen the film The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch then you will know the story of Turing. The building became a hotel in 1935 and counts a number of famous people as having stayed there including Sigmund Freud

The Prince Alfred on Bristol Gardens is another traditional Victorian pub which apparently serves excellent food. Walking along this road I cannot help but admire the houses especially this row of terraced housing with the shops beneath.

Curious to know the cost of living in this area I had a look at prices in an Estate Agency. I saw no properties for less than £1,000,000 but you could rent a 1 bedroomed flat for £360 per week. Any takers?

Amongst the large houses you can still find the converted stable yards such as Elnathan Mews and Bristol Mews. One feature of Mews are the cobbles. Hard wearing but uncomfortable underfoot.

In the middle of this row of houses is  Clifton's garden centre.
I was very grateful to find not just beautiful plants but a lovely cafe and ultra clean toilets.

The Warwick Castle is a well known pub in the heart of Little Venice and has been there since 1867. With a marble fireplace and an open log fire it is worth a visit if you are in the area.

Looking in the opposite direction I noticed the storm clouds were gathering so time to leave this delightful part of London.