I hope I’m not alone in finding this and other London Underground terminuses (or termini, to be classically correct) hugely beguiling. They have an atmosphere you do not find anywhere else on the network. It’s one of precarious, precious stillness. Nothing and no-one can rush in a place like this. Life feels half-suspended, having drifted in from somewhere, but not entirely sure when it will drift on somewhere else. Trains creep in, loiter, and creep out. Time does the same.
These feelings are amplified and embellished when you’re in a terminus like the one at Cockfosters.
Another Charles Holden masterpiece (yes, him again) dating from 1933, the building seems almost to shiver with languid splendour. Those great grey arches yawn invitingly; the soft lights wink and glow with dapper charm; and all around you the space, the generous, stylish space, circulates with airy, effortless ease.
All the signature Holden motifs are present and correct: reinforced concrete and glass well to the fore, as much natural light as possible, an emphasis on simple elegance rather than fussy ornamentation, and sleek, smooth lines that curve, criss-cross and sidle in every direction.
But there are surprises as well, like this grill, which reminds me of one of Ken Adam’s stark and memorable set designs from Dr No:
Necessity means you have to linger in Cockfosters; the station’s glorious interior makes it expedient to do so as well. It is one of the finest places to begin or end a journey to or from anywhere in London.