Tag Archives: Highgate

Platform? Shoo!Once there were grand plans for Highgate station. Once it was intended to be a spectacular multi-storey interchange, with entrances on three different levels and platforms above and below ground, all housed within a shimmering giant of a building designed by Charles Holden. Once this was to be the hub of the Northern Heights. Once this was to have been very special indeed:

Highgate to heavenInstead, no-one departs and no-one arrives. It is a ghost station. Platforms and buildings survive, but no passenger train has passed this way since 1954.

The desperate poignancy of this location is compounded by the sight and sound of people flocking into that bit of the Highgate interchange that did get finished: the deep-level Underground platforms, from where travellers today have a choice of two, but only two, destinations: north to East Finchley or south to Archway.

Once you could catch a train from this place to five other destinations. Now, if you want a connection to Cranley Gardens, or Muswell Hill, or Alexandra Palace, or Crouch End, or Stroud Green, you must look elsewhere. The nerves and sinews of the railway network at Highgate have snapped and decayed; the infrastructure is still, wistfully, maddeningly, intact:

The last train has already departedTrains first came through here in 1867. The Underground arrived in 1939. But so did the second world war, along with matters more pressing than the realisation of a triple-decked suburban transport interchange.

What we’re left with today is the top and bottom layers of that triple-decked sandwich, but no middle. There is a gaping hole. You enter or exit Highgate station above the disused platforms, then – via steps (down) or escalator (up) – pass directly over and around them to get to or from the deep-level Underground.

But you can see them – quite well, as it happens, though you can’t get quite near enough to enjoy a clear view.

And there is one unexpected treat. The former entrance to the station, along with the cottage once belonging to the stationmaster, is beautifully maintained and tended:

Station masteryLife, of sorts, still goes on at old Highgate station. And I must say, I’m rather glad.

A rockery runs through it

Mis-mapTo avoid having my virtual collar felt by the long arm of Transport for London’s copyright police, I can’t reproduce any sort of maps on this blog. But I’m pretty sure I can reproduce my own photos of publicly-displayed copies of heritage maps. Well – fairly sure.

I think I’m on safe ground with this one: a copy of a 1932 attempt at a map of the London Underground, which is on permanent show by the entrance to Temple station:

It's a photo of a map, not a map. Honest.I guess most people might find this mildly diverting. I find it continually fascinating, but then I’m not most people.

The map pre-dates by a matter of months the publication of the first of Harry Beck’s groundbreaking diagrammatic versions. As such it became a museum piece remarkably quickly, being officially redundant by January 1933 (and forever more).

Unofficially it has gained a second life as an exhibit on the wall outside Temple, reminding those who care to look that stations once existed called Addison Road and Post Office, that Archway used to be known as Highgate, and that if you wanted to travel anywhere west of Turnham Green you were pretty much on your own.

There is no single credit for this intriguing if eccentric map. Instead it is attributed to the London Passenger Transport Board, along with a few words of advice for stupid people:

Well, dur