Tag Archives: Clapham North

Mind the gapsThere are only two stations deep below ground with platforms like these: this one, and the next stop south on the Northern line, Clapham Common.

I don’t claim greatness for these platforms on safety or accessibility grounds (though I’d be interested to compare the number of accidents per year at Clapham North with those at recently refurbished deep-level Northern line stations, like Angel or Mornington Crescent).

What makes them special is their rarity and their antiquity.

Passing trains Not everything that is old is worth preserving, just as not everything that is new is transient. By and large, the “right” bits of the 150-year-old Underground have been kept and restored, while the “wrong” bits are – after a long wait – being sorted out.

But the platforms here and at Clapham Common cannot be sorted out, because there isn’t room. A whole new tunnel would have to be dug. That isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Using these platforms is therefore something of a novelty yet also, in an odd way, a sort of privilege. Passengers aren’t treated like fools at Clapham North. We are trusted to use this eccentric (to our eyes) architectural arrangement, and not to blunder dopily on to one or other set of tracks while reading a newspaper or prodding at our phone.

For the occasional visitor there is also excitement to be felt when trains rush in from either direction simultaneously: a sensation compounded by being in a single contained space.

The platforms are islands of history, not just of convenience. They can’t be allowed to exist forever, and they shouldn’t. But for now, their latterday idiosyncracy renders them teasingly special.

No man is an island