107. The maze at Warren Street
Warren’s Treat was the name of a novel I almost started writing in my 20s. I thought the title was terribly witty, likewise the idea that everyone in the book would be named after a London-based railway station.
Naturally, I now see that the whole concept was shockingly pretentious and am glad I didn’t have the time, or more correctly the commitment, to get round to doing anything about it. It would also have been a bit too close to this slice of audio horror for comfort.
A much more agreeable application of the station’s name can be found on the walls of the Victoria line platforms:
Alan Fletcher conceived the maze, he of the V&A logo, Penguin book covers, the BP petrol pump and just about every significant example of public British graphic design of the 1960s and 70s.
The “warren” is supposedly possible to navigate in around three minutes. But this does presuppose you have reason to be on the platform for around three minutes, which given the frequency of Victoria line trains isn’t always the case. It’s more suited for idling away gaps in the service, or if you find yourself stuck in the station waiting for a train further up or down the line to sort out a problem with its doors. (Or rather, sort out a passenger who’s created a problem with the doors, usually by TRYING TO ENTER THE CARRIAGE WHEN THEY’RE CLOSING.)
There’s also the additional hazard of someone deciding to sit down right in front of the maze. It’s a little unfortunate that the designs are embedded directly above benches. A woman sat down seconds after I took these photos, and I had to stop myself from scowling (yes, hard to believe).
Yet despite all this I think we can all agree it’s a far more successful manifestation of London transport wordplay than a book with characters such as Rick Mansworth, Colin Dale, the Scottish tearway Cal E. Donian, and the eccentric preacher Canon Bury.
I fell a little disappointed that you haven’t written the novel…
Your wordplay reminds me of this song you might enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sgTRtCdv8w
Not strictly Underground, but there are plenty of stations in there!
I agree with LondonKiwiEmma. What was your character for Kings Cross going to be like?
I hadn’t got that far – perhaps thankfully!
I’d love to read that book you didn’t write; after reading this humourous post.
There was a time when one of the mazes was unsolvable (I’m not sure if this has actually been fixed). I suspect this might have been due to a tile replacement gone wrong.