Tag Archives: Wood Lane

Through the roundel windowI really haven’t done enough on this blog to commemorate people who – at the time of writing – are still alive. Mike Ashworth is one such person, as it’s thanks to him visitors to Wood Lane station can admire a thousand or so chunks of history that might otherwise have been left to rot.

It’s a London Underground roundel that hails from the original Wood Lane – a previous incarnation of the present station that used to be on the Central line and which closed in 1959. The roundel was rescued from the wreckage on the specific request of Ashworth, LU’s design and heritage manager, who then oversaw its gorgeous restoration and rebirth here, in the all-new Wood Lane.

There’s one drawback, however. It’s behind protective glass, which means it doesn’t photograph that well. My reflection-wracked pictures don’t do it full justice.

One thousand slices of charmIt’d be wonderful were it to be open display, even if it meant it had to be mounted higher up, out of the reach of hands with hammers or light-fingered loons.

It also looks a bit eerie, not to say fragile, divorced from any kind of solid surface. But this is nitpicking. I’m just glad it’s still with us – unlike the institution that once made this station’s name famous the world over.

Which is more rare: rain in London or a new Underground station?The name Wood Lane has one resonance and one only: as the home of the palace of glittering delights that is BBC Television Centre. I can’t help thinking that, had Wood Lane station been called not after the road on which it stands but the building opposite which it sits, the Beeb would not be in the process of flogging off one of the country’s cultural powerhouses. Imagine having the name Television Centre immortalised on the Underground map: what finer honour could there be? I still think they made a mistake not renaming Stratford as “Stratford Olympia”. Anyway…

Night lightsWood Lane is stunning, either by night or day. It’s another masterclass in contemporary station architecture by Ian Ritchie, whose work at Bermondsey I’ve already praised. Similar themes and concerns crop up here: an emphasis on space and natural light, a sympathetic layout and ambience, and a celebration not of brick and iron but steel, glass and aluminium. The top of the station is especially striking:

Making a pointUnderneath, the station has been given a frankly enormous entrance, which neatly allows you to see exactly where you need to go and what you need to do to get there, even before you put a foot inside. No plunging, unknowingly, into an oddly-lit and counter-intuitively cramped vestibule (Leslie Green, I’m looking at you).

That't some frontYes, those are viaduct arches inside the station. Fantastic, isn’t it?

Wood Lane began operation in 2008: one of the many projects started by Ken Livingstone, but opened and doted upon by Boris Johnson. I think that particular wheeze is pretty much exhausted now, Boris.

When Television Centre closes in 2013, Wood Lane will cease to be a mustering point for small screen stars, staff and audiences. Instead it will be merely a portal to an anonymous shopping centre. But for those who care, and for those who remember, its name will always and forever mean something else: something unique and very magical.