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Bound for gloryWell now. Here’s a pleasing, solid slice of modernism. It looks in fine fettle, and deservedly so. Bounds Green is another valuable emissary from that otherwise value-strapped decade, the 1930s. If ever you need a tangible reminder of why the second world war was worth fighting, take a trip up the north end of the Piccadilly line.

But while Bounds Green station is an uplifting sensory dispatch from a distinctly downbeat era, and is all the greater for being so, the present day has not been kind. And here’s my problem. Should I be at all bothered about what is taking place at the fringes of this and so many other stunning outposts of the Underground? You’ll see what I mean if I repeat the shot above, but widen the view a little.

A "Bit" of botherGaaaah! It’s not just seeing the word “bits” in the name of shop that depresses me (though only up to a point; the smutty part of me will always associate the word with Kenneth Connor in Carry on Behind who, in response to Elke Sommer announcing “When I love a man, I give him everything, I give it all”, sighs: “But I don’t want it all. I just want a bit!“).

No, it’s also the font. What a horrible, horrible font. I despair at the inelegant, unimaginative lettering.  I bridle at the use of blue on red. And I recoil at the way the ampersand flops and flails about.

To be fair, I’d feel this way on seeing such a font adorning any building. But at the foot of such a gold standard of 20th century style and design is heartbreaking.

Or is it? Should I not treat it as part of the station at all? Or somehow see it yet “not” see it, in a kind of doublethink, as satirised by George Orwell (another valuable emissary from the 1930s)?

Everything's gone GreenThe Underground portions of Bounds Green, both inside and out, are splendid. I say that without reservation.

I just can’t quite get that other font out of my mind, like a bit of grit in my eye. It needles me.

What chance us clubbing together and buying the lease, purely in order to replace that weeping sore of a sign?

Light fantasticThe northern end of the Piccadilly line is without doubt going to feature many times in this blog. It probably boasts the most concentrated array of delights to be found on the London Underground network. I may as well admit right now that some of its stations will turn up here more than once. That’s certainly true of Bounds Green, where three of these beautiful objects live:

Glory Bound(s)The trio of bronze uplighters, two in the passageway between the platforms and one in the entrance hall, were the work of a man who is also going to make repeated appearances in this blog: Charles Holden.

The design dates back to 1932, the year Bounds Green station opened and from a time when the Underground was being subject to a complete reimagining in size, look and feel. Or rather, a complete imagining, seeing as how up until that point, nobody had seriously thought of or tried to conceive of the Underground network as one thing. Specifically, one thing that was deserving of coherent branding, original design and unique architecture. Holden and his management sponsor Frank Pick did. SPOILER: their efforts will probably comprise, oh, at least one-fifth of my 150.

Eats and BitsThe uplighters at Bounds Green, besides being Art Deco at its functional finest, create a cosy, comforting atmosphere: perhaps not the most obvious of environments for the likes of Eats and Bits, but very much in keeping with the thinking of their designer. I’m not going to disagree with him. After all, Underground stations should be places you want to be, that you feel pleased and proud to be stepping into, and not just locations from which you want to flee as soon as possible and in which you’re loathe to dwell.

But there’s more to marvel at Bounds Green station than just three exquisite illuminations. I’m already looking forward to going back.