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Jubilee line

Smile!The Jubilee line extension from Westminster to Stratford is nothing if not a lesson in how to introduce light into dark places. Glittering, shimmering, colourful light. And there’s an entire wall of it at Southwark, tinted in the most alluring, soothing shade of blue.

BluetonicIt is a dazzling 40 metres long and made up of 496 panels of varying sizes, bolted together to form an enormous azure-hued tapestry that reflects all the energy of the station concourse.

The fact that the wall is purely decorative and serves no structural purpose whatsoever just makes it all the most precious. It’s a great example of the way the newer Jubilee line stations were conceived as opportunities to be exploited, not obstacles to be accommodated. Plus it’s gorgeous to look at, both as a slice of art and a turquoise-tinged mirror on all the bustle of the Underground.

I’ve always enjoyed bluetones.

BluetonesWhat a thrillingly chunky dose of architecture. The wall is held in place with these massive concrete struts, which themselves become attractive – for me, anyway – thanks to the way they are shadowed by daylight pouring in from the roof.

Southwark station unfurls narrowly downwards, a necessary manoeuvre due to surrounding buildings and – oh, the irony – old railway viaducts. Curse those Victorians with their feats of swaggering engineering!

But what it loses in horizontal sprawl it gains in dramatic, elegant elevation. The glass wall, the work of Alexander Beleschenko, celebrates what might otherwise had been treated as a constraint. And blue is the perfect colour for the station: cooling, introspective, becalming.

Who knew geometry could be so emotional?

Blue is *the* colour

Wharf factor 3, Mr SuluIt stretches over two football pitches in length and is deeper than a six-storey house. It plays host to over 40 million pairs of feet every year. It took only nine months to design. It is the jaw-dropping jewel of the modern Underground.

I would add it needs no introduction, but I see I’ve already given it one.

A station of two halvesCanary Wharf station doesn’t have any equals. It is its own reference point. You can make objective comparisons of an empirical kind, as I did above. But you can only grasp at subjective ones, and even then words never quite suffice. The nearest sensation to descending into the very pit of this colossal trench is probably that experienced further round the Jubilee line at Westminster, although that doesn’t boast Canary Wharf’s vast panoramas or cascades of natural light.

The whole interior feels wider than a mile. And yes, it is impossible not to cross in style.

This is the London Underground at its most courageous and its most imaginative. The scale and ambition was deliberately pitched so as to anticipate what has indeed come to pass: that the station would eventually have to serve far more people than the 50,000 a day estimated at its opening in 1999.

And that number keeps on rising. Perhaps a point will be reached when there are too many people – too many, at least, to allow the visitor to fully appreciate the attention to detail lavished on both the mighty and the miniature.

Silver stairUntil then, Canary Wharf station remains just as much a statement of London’s swagger and personality as Tower Bridge or the Olympic stadium or the King’s Road.

Passage through it, beginning at the mighty west entrance, demands to be soundtracked with something like Henry Mancini’s title music for Arabesque, or Temptation by New Order, or Marvin Hamlisch’s Bond 77 theme. Just make sure you time the latter so you hit the escalator at 0:27.

My huckleberry friend

St John's? Would!The outside of St John’s Wood has been rather spoiled by the construction of a giant apartment block on top of the original modest and charming (now Grade II listed) building*.

But the inside is still worth commending. In fact it’s worth applauding:

There is an uplighter that never goes outThe uplighters march up the escalators like a phalanx of benevolent brass-bound colonels, keeping you in line while guiding you safely and silently to your destination.

They have a simple elegance that somehow both calms and cools you down. I like the idea of having rich, dark furnishings inside an Underground station. As well as giving the place more beauty, they offset all the necessary but sometimes overbearing bright walls and ceilings.

St John’s Wood station opened in 1939. I think – I hope – these uplighters date from the same time.

Ditto their lovely little brother, which Transport for London should manufacture as bedside lights. I’d buy one:

Want.*Though I can’t deny the idea of living directly above an Underground station doesn’t have an appeal