The Anonymous Widower

Going Back To My Childhood

Well, not really! But this afternoon, I did go back to the northern reaches of the Piccadilly line. The aim was to look at the escalator layout of the stations to see how difficult they would be to upgrade to step-free access, possibly using inclined lifts, as I outlined here.

I joined the line at Manor House station, but didn’t go all the way to Cockfosters, as the last two stations, don’t have escalators. Starting from the end of the line, here’s what I found.

Cockfosters – This station could probably be made step-free by fitting conventional lifts into the structure to access the tunnel under Cockfosters Road. Once in the tunnel, the station is then step-free to the platforms.

Oakwood – Looking at the ends of the various Underground lines, the end station is more often than not step-free.  But in the case of the northern end of the Piccadilly line, Oakwood was made step-free rather than Cockfosters.

Southgate – When I mused about fitting an inclined lift at this station in this post, I said it would be a challenging design problem. Southgate is one of the architectural jewels of the line and this picture shows why.

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Escalators and Uplighters At Southgate Station

It is a gem of 1930s design and architecture with all that bronze, even if the yellow paint on the stairs in the middle for health and safety reasons,  is out of place. The station may not have the original wooden escalators, but someone had the sense to fit modern treads in the old casing, rather than a complete modern escalator.

Escalator At Southgate Station

Escalator At Southgate Station

This station could take an inclined lift in the central space, but it would have to be done with enormous sympathy using similar materials to the original Charles Holden design.

There would be two other problems with an inclined lift.

As the station is now, it could easily be converted into an Underground station of several decades ago for making a film, as it was for The End of The Affair. I remember it was strange seeing a film, that had been shot in a place I knew so well.

The heritage lobby would have a field day trying to stop the installation. After all the station has won awards for its restoration over the last few years and it is a Grade II* Listed Building.

But all that adds to making it the sort of challenge, that a good designer would relish.

Arnos Grove – This is a surface station and could be made step-free with the addition of lifts in the same manner used on several stations on the Undergound and Overground network.

Bounds Green – Like Southgate, this station is a two escalator and one staircase station, where the staircase could be replaced with an inclined lift. But it doesn’t have the heritage problems of Southgate, as the station has modern escalators.

Wood Green – This is a three escalator station and step-free access would probably have to be installed, by digging a traditional lift shaft. I say shaft, as I suspect because the running tunnels are fairly wide apart, there is probably somewhere to slot in a shaft that served both platforms by descending into the platform level lobby or a cross tunnel, as was done at Tottenham Hale station.

Turnpike Lane – The problems here are similar to Wood Green, as it is another three escalator station, where a traditional lift would have to be sunk from the booking office to the platform levels.  But another problem is that some form of lift would be needed to descend to the booking office level, which is below ground.

Manor House – This is very similar in layout to Turnpike Lane, but it would need lifts at seven exits to the surface to be fully step-free.

Finsbury Park – This is almost a low-level station with steps up to a pedestrian tunnel.  Conventional lifts could probably be added without too much difficulty. There is a lot of development going on at this station and it will be interesting to see if the step-free access improves.  The last time I visited access wasn’t good.

I think that the difficulty of making some of these stations completely step-free, shows how much our attitudes to those with difficulties getting about has changed since the stations were built in the 1930s. Charles Holden’s stations either had escalators or a short flight of steps, like Cockfosters or Arnos Grove. Compare the equipment at these stations with those on the Jubilee line extension, where all stations are fully step-free. But to be fair to Charles Holden, the Victoria line built thirty years after the Piccadilly line even now has only three step-free stations, Tottenham Hale, Green Park and Brixton stations. The Victoria line station, that I use the most; Highbury and Islington is a maze of tunnels and little short of a complete rebuild will improve matters.

Having looked at Southgate and Bounds Green, I think that an inclined lift could be a excellent idea at these two stations. You wouldn’t rip out the central escalator at Wood Green, Turnpike Lane and Manor House, as it was put in because the number of passengers needed it. But at least these three stations have larger platform tunnels, which must help the installation of a conventional lift.

However, putting in an inclined lift would not only make it easier for those in wheelchairs, with babies in buggies or heavy cases, but it would add to the station’s capacity.  One point about an inclined lift, is parties where some need the lift and others don’t, can effectively travel up and down together at the same time, with those who can walk on the adjoining escalator.  So the size of an inclined lift, may actually be smaller for the same capacity. It would probably also go up and down almost continuously.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will The Co-op Bank Take Over The Lloyds Branches?

There is an article in The Times today, saying that the transfer of 632 branches from Lloyds Banking Group to the Co-op Bank is hitting various problems, mainly it appears conerned with computing.

If I was a customer of one of the branches to be transferred, I would have been off elsewhere by now, as I am one of those dinosaurs, who believe that I choose my bank and not politicians and bureaucrats from Europe.

So I suspect that if the transfer does go through, the Co-op will get some the branches without the customers.

It appears to, that a similar transfer of branches from RBS to Santander has already foundered.

It’s a real mess out there in retail banking.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Finance, News | | 2 Comments

I’m With Guy De Maupassant

Will Self has written an article about the Shard for the BBC web site. I liked this bit.

It was said of the French writer Guy de Maupassant that he ate dinner in the restaurant of the Eiffel Tower every night of the week, and when asked why, replied, “Because it’s the only place in Paris from where you can’t see the Eiffel Tower.”

I wonder if Guy De Maupassant would agree with me on Europe’s tallest building. It is just too easy to see, as I showed in this article.

On the other hand, I’ve no desire to eat dinner every night in the building, as it will only encourage someone to build something even more intrusive.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

The Telegraph Attacks Two Targets In One Article

Toby Young in Her Majesty’s Daily Telegraph has attacked both Lance Armstrong and Alistair Campbell in this article.

It is getting that Lance Armstrong is becoming a non-laurel wreath to hang around anybody you don’t like’s neck.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | News, Sport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Manly Library Classifies Armstrong’s Books As Fiction

This story is a classic Australian put-down for sports worst cheat.

So it’s only a hoax, but everybody got the joke.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Sport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Deaths From Asthma

The previous post on asthma got me thinking, so I looked up if there was a site, that gave asthma deaths by country.

There is and it’s here.

The site is interesting , as it gives an awful lot of ways you can die. just select and click go.

For example, one of the sections is falling from trees.  No-one actually died that way in the statistics they show.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Health, World | | 2 Comments

A Call From The Cable-Car

As I was alone on the Emirates Air-Line yesterday, I called a friend in The Netherlands.

I don’t suppose, I’m the only person, who’s done that. But try doing that in a tunnel under the Thames.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Personal Taxation – Italian Style

This article from the BBC’s web site, describes how the Italian tax man is getting to grips with the country’s tax avoidance.

The Italians are finding it all a bit intrusive and with an election coming up, the tactics of the taxmen are an election issue.

According to the article, the United States uses a similar system, which links the amount of expenditure you have, with the income you need to sustain that lifestyle.

I’ve met many people over the years, who seemed to live very well, with no visible means of support.

So perhaps we need that sort of system here!

January 21, 2013 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

The Internet For Timely Information

I generally look each morning, at the list of the ten most read pages on the BBC’s web site.

This morning, only one of the ten is not about the weather and seven are concerning school closures. In order they are Notts, Essex, England, Leicester, Kent and Shropshire.

In pre-Internet days, parents would have listened to local radio.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Computing, World | , , | 1 Comment

Sending People To Coventry

This very English phrase has been used in a comment on my post about Lance Armstrong, by one of my Australian followers.

I would have thought the Australians would have used an appropriate Australian town.

We also have a few other geographical phrases like.

Carrying coals to Newcastle

So what do other countries use?

Wikipedia has an interesting explanation of the phrase Sending to Coventry. They cite the origin as.

It is believed that the city of Coventry in the United Kingdom had one of the strictest monasteries, where monks that misbehaved were sent and given the punishment of a vow of silence. therefore being “sent to Coventry” means not being spoken to or communicated with.

So it is a lot older than industrial relations.

Perhaps, we should bring it back as a legal punishment.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments