47. The arcade at South Kensington

Arcade-iaThere are very few station entrances on the Underground through which you want not to walk, but to saunter, or even sashay.

South Kensington has one of them:

Sashay while the sun shinesEverything about this entrance, the layout, the lettering, the curve of the pillars, the curl of the brackets, screams – or rather sighs – breezy elegance.

This isn’t somewhere to slope or sidle. It’s a place to step jauntily, or to mooch enigmatically, or even to promenade wistfully.

Given its proximity to the Royal Albert Hall, the last of these traits seems particularly fitting.

Mooch this wayIf all of this seems rather fanciful, then that’s because the arcade that garnishes South Kensington like ribbons on a teacosy is itself fanciful.

It is shamelessly Victorian in both pretence and purpose. It is anti-modern, in that it tries to mask rather than celebrate the real purpose of its existence. Thanks to the arcade, the Underground at South Kensington can feel a bit like an undignified sideshow: the equivalent of someone coughing during the performance of a light opera.

It’s a delight in spite of rather than because of its role as part of a public transport utility, and that makes it rather an anachronism on this blog. I don’t think, however, that such a distinction diminishes its status as a great thing about the Underground. On the contrary, it sparkles with a personality that is simply different from, not necessarily inferior to, the parade of stylistic icons that march up the Piccadilly and Jubilee lines.

Plus it also looks gorgeous in the sunshine. Fancy a stroll?

D'ya Ken, John Peel?

2 comments
  1. Greg Tingey said:

    Even better, now they’ve re-arranged the road on the South side, you cab get a really good look at it.
    Alight here for Albertopolis, indeed.

  2. I’ve had a brief skim through your piccadilly line posts and haven’t seen any reference to my favorite Pic line fact – I was at South Ken on Saturday and took a photo of something you might like

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