A bit of an atypical choice, this. I’ve included it not because of something, but despite.
What’s great about Roding Valley is that despite being the least-used station on the entire Underground, it continues to exist. Moreover, it does so – to paraphrase the Bluetones, another outer-London treasure – with a little charm and a lot of style.
Don’t come here looking for architectural wonder or lashings of imaginative design. Give Roding Valley a miss if you’re out to sample the Underground at its aesthetic finest. Do come here, however, if you want a sense of the network going about its business modestly, extremely quietly, and in the absence of arithmetical tumescence.
Build a station and they will come. Even if it’s around 220,000 people a year. That’s an average of 602 a day – roughly the number who move through Victoria Underground station every 90 seconds.
Compared to central London, every time is off-peak time at Roding Valley. But pass this way in the dead of morning, or in the hollow of an afternoon, and you might not see another soul during the 20 minutes you can spend waiting for a train. I didn’t. And I rather enjoyed it.
You can also, if you want, pretend the place belongs to you. I did. And I rather enjoyed it. Though it’s impossible to ever completely relax and, say, start dancing along the platform. Cameras are in evidence, connected to a location miles away where people are present, watching for unfamiliar faces cutting some rug or loitering to take pictures.
If you’re after that certain kind of stillness that only dwells in barely-breathing stations that are best known for making footnotes rather than headlines, there can be fewer more pleasant locations.
And even if you never have cause to visit, it’s awfully nice to know that Roding Valley is there. Despite… well, despite pretty much everything.