78. The water tower at Chesham

Snow place like itLike dangling an arm out the window of a hot car, the Underground occasionally swaps its default environment for one that is far fresher, if fleeting.

It does this by throwing a tentacle so far from the centre of London that it unfurls not only to the municipal boundary but beyond. Welcome to Buckinghamshire, home of red-faced anti-HS2 brigands, a stand-in for the headquarters of the United Nations, and this: Chesham station, Grade II-listed Victoriana a-go-go, and the most distant point on the network from the King Charles statue at Charing Cross.

Highlight of the place for me is the water tower, a relic from the 1880s. It’s wonderfully uncompromising, sitting like a sentry at the far end of the platform. A squat wodge of nostalgia:

Water way to have a good timeAnother relic of the 1880s is the body of opinion that values this piece of public transport infrastructure, but hates another. I adore them both. It’s great that this water tower survives, but it’s just as great that, while Chesham’s links with Greater London are continually revised and improved, so the same is happening with the south-east and the rest of the UK. Or will do, providing reason prevails over nonsense.

There’s plenty of time to mull these things over when you come to Chesham station. You can’t treat this place like you would the rest of the Underground. There’s no point turning up expecting a train to arrive in the next two or three minutes. Carriages trundle up the single branch line from Chalfont and Latimer every half hour, resting in the platform for a good 10 minutes or so before returning whence they came.

But like Bob Monkhouse and his ever-wonderful Full House, their doors are always open for you, which is extra fortunate if you happen to find yourself in the middle of a snow storm.

The best kind of shelterI’ll return to this corner of the Underground map again, for there’s much to enjoy, even if you have to endure a long ride through lesser parts (Harrow-on-the-Hill, I’m looking at you) to reach it.

Best of all, the Metropolitan line being now wholly-served by a squad of brand-new, uber-slick,  all-in-one bendy trains, the journey is more comfortable than it’s ever been.

If certain attitudes stand still in places like these, at least time doesn’t.

Winter wonderland

1 comment
  1. I’ve just moved to Chesham, I didn’t realise that was a water tower. And we’re about to buy one of those grade II listed places.

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