The Anonymous Widower

Twenty Years On!

On the eleventh of September in 2001, I had three jobs to do in London.

  • I had to visit my press cuttings client near Borough tube station to talk about something, which I have long forgotten.
  • I had to deliver a thousand Al Stewart CDs to his manager, as the singer was going on tour. The handover was to be performed in Waterloo station.
  • I was then going on to Soho to see a Chinese bookmaker, for whom I offered computer advice.

I parked my car on a meter and went to visit the first client at about two.

When I returned to the car, I needed to phone my wife; C about something. My phone was installed in my Discovery and it didn’t have any calling list, as I remembered numbers and just typed them in.

But for some reason I couldn’t remember her mobile phone number or the Office number at home, so I didn’t make the call.

This was very unlike me, as I’ve always had an excellent memory. Especially for numbers.

I did remember to deliver the parcel to Al Stewart’s manager and made my way to Soho, where I parked in an underground car park.

It was only when I got to the bookmakers did I realise what was going on in New York, as they had the televisions on and were watching the drama continuously.

I have a feeling, that I made my excuses and returned quickly to Suffolk.

By this time, my memory had returned and I was able to phone C.

But the worst terrorist attacks of recent memory were probably over.

Did my brain pick up the bad news or was it due to being close to the City of London, where there would have been a large amount of electronic communication to New York?

I have no idea.

But there is another incident, where I may have picked up tragic news through the ether.

On Sunday, the 31st August 1997, I woke up about five as I generally do and remarkably said to C. “Something tragic has happend! I think Tony Blair has been assassinated!”

She told me to stop being silly and I went downstairs to make a cup of tea and do some programming. It was then that I turned on the radio and heard that Princess Diana had died in the traffic accident in Paris.

September 11, 2021 Posted by | Business, Computing, News, World | , , , , | 3 Comments

Thoughts On Step-Free Access At Manor House Station

I use Manor House station regularly, as I have a bus-stop by my house, that is perhaps fifty metres from my front door, that connects to the station.

  • There is also a zebra crossing to get to the other side of the road.
  • The 141 bus actually connects me to Manor House, Turnpike Lane and Wood Green stations on the Piccadilly Line.
  • This is because it was a replacement for the 641 trolley-bus route that used to run between Winchmore Hill and Moorgate via. Milmay Park.
  • I also use the station as a convenient station to go West on the Piccadilly Line.
  • As it connects step-free at Finsbury Park station to the Victoria Line, it certainly has its uses.

Click this link to see an excellent photo of a 641 trolley-bus at Manor House station.

The pub in the photo was the Manor House, where I saw such performers as John Mayall and Eric Clapton amongst others.

I took these pictures today

The station has an unusual layout.

      • Two major roads; the Seven Sisters Road (A503) and Green Lanes (A 105) cross at the station.
      • The four major roads are all controlled by traffic lights, which also allow pedestrians to cross the major roads safely on the surface.
      • There are a couple of staircases at each corner of the junction and these lead down to a maze of passages that connect these entrances to the escalators that lead up and down to the platforms.
      • The former Manor House pub and a new Travel Lodge sit opposite each other on the junction.
      • The Travel Lodge sits on the South-West corner.
      • The North-West corner leads directly into Finsbury Park., which is not a bad place to go for a walk or a jog.

The below ground subways in the station are all level.

The staircases between subway and street level are very reminiscent of those at Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square stations.

The staircases also have some excellent period details.

But then they tend to do things as they should in my part of North London.

This picture was taken after a World Cup Third!

What will happen, if England win the Euros?

Manor House station’s design can best be summed up as two level areas connected by a series of staircases.

  • Central London stations with this layout include Bank, Cockfosters, Kings Cross St. Pancras,Leicester Square, Manor House, Piccadilly Circus. Tottenham Court Road and Victoria.
  • At least Cockfosters, Kings Cross St. Pancras, Tottenham Court Road and Victoria have lifts between the two levels.
  • Bank station will have more lifts than Oti Mabusi in a dance routine, after the rebuild.
  • Old Street was similar, but Transport for London (TfL) are rebuilding the station.

Cockfosters has level access at both the surface and the platform level and they have sneaked in a lift in a corner of the station.

Grandparents in a wheel-chair or Louis or Lilibet in a pushchair can easily be taken easily between train and the car-park.I am certain, that if there are a number of lifts at the four corners of the road junction at Manor House, then access both to the station and across the junction will be substantially eased.

That just leaves us with the problem of getting between subway and platform levels.

This map from cartometro.com shows the platform layout.

Note that as at Turnpike Lane station in this platform layout, there is also a generous space between the platforms.

The two escalators and a set of stairs face North.

Wood Green station is a bit different, as it has a turnback siding

The two escalators and a set of stairs also face South.

When I used to use the Piccadilly Line in the 1960s, it tended to be pain, if a Wood Green train turned up, when you wanted  to go to Oakwood or Cockfosters.

Bounds Green station is shown in this map.

Again the tracks appear to have been curved to allow generous space.

The two escalators and a set of stairs face North.

Arnos Grove station is a station with sidings and four platforms on the surface.

The car parks are likely to be developed for housing, so there will be major changes at the station.

Southgate station is the last station, that doesn’t have step-free access.

But again there is some space between the tracks.

The two escalators and a set of stairs face North.

So did the designers of the Northern Extension of the Piccadilly Line leave space to put in more equipment or even lifts?

After all they didn’t stint themselves on the design of the stations.

Designing Step-Free Access

This is not easy and various considerations must be taken into account.

Revenue Protection

At Cockfosters station, the new lift goes between two areas that are outside the ticket barriers.

If as I have proposed at Manor House station, where there would be lifts between the surface and the subway level, both areas are outside the ticket barriers.

At Tottenham Hale station, there several lifts all of which are inside the ticket barrier.

Staff At The Barrier

Nearly all ticket barriers in London are watched by staff to sort out problems like passengers, who don’t know how to use the system.

Costs

It is unlikely, that large sums of money will be available to add step-free access to all stations on the Underground.

I also think, that step-free access at stations will be funded by developments close to stations.

A London-Wide Solution

It is for these and other reasons, that I think London needs to look in detail at all stations and see if a series of solutions can be developed for all stations.

In this section of the Piccadilly Line, there are five stations with three escalators or two escalators and a staircase.

But there are others on the other deep tube lines.

So should a standard solution be developed for all stations like this? And for all groups of similar stations.

Could An Inclined Lift Be Used At This Group Of Stations?

This picture shows the first inclined lift, I ever saw, which was on the Stockholm Metro.

Looking at the picture shows it was installed on a very long set of escalators.

At present, there is only one inclined lift on the London Underground and that one is at Greenford station.

It is a very neat and compact installation, that incorporates a double-staircase, an up escalator and an inclined lift in a confined space.

I think we’ll see similar solutions to Greenford employed in some stations on the Underground. In Is This A Simple And Affordable Solution To Providing Step-Free Access At Essex Road Station?, I outline how an inclined lift could be used at Essex Road station.

These pictures show the three escalators at Manor House station.

Note.

  1. The middle escalator was switched off.
  2. There is a spacious lobby at the bottom of the escalators.

The other four below-ground stations North of Finsbury Park; Turnpike Lane, Wood Green, Bounds Green and Southgate all have two escalators and a central staircase

These pictures show Bounds Green station.

Note that the stairs are in the middle.

It looks to me, that all five escalator systems to the North of Finsbury Park are more or less identical.

  • Only Manor House has a third escalator.
  • There is a large lobby at the bottom.
  • All stairs are in the middle escalator slot.
  • Are the stairs designed to be replaced with a third escalator?

So would it be possible to design an inclined escalator solution for all stations, that fitted all of the stations?

I think it might be very much a possibility.

  • The central staircase would be replaced by a third escalator.
  • One of the outside escalators would be replaced with an inclined lift.

Note

  1. Many of these escalators were probably  installed in the early 1990s, a few years after the Kings Cross Fire.
  2. Escalators are replaced regularly every ten or twenty years.

So could the installation of the inclined lifts, be worked into the schedule of escalator maintenance and replacement?

I believe with good project management it could be arranged.

  • At no time during the works would any station have less than two escalators.
  • If there were to be an escalator failure, all of the stations are connected by frequent buses and some are even within walking distance.

The works could also be arranged to fit in with available cash-flow.

I believe that eventually all these stations will need to be provided with full step-free access.

Conclusion

I believe that a sensible program of works can be developed to make all deep-level stations North of Finsbury Park step-free on the Piccadilly Line.

  • The deep-level platforms would be served by two escalators and an inclined lift.
  • The works would be performed alongside the regular maintenance and replacement of the current escalators.
  • There would be no substantial tunneling.
  • The works could also be arranged to fit in with available cash-flow.

The technique would be applicable to other stations on the Underground network.

Turnpike Lane Station

In Is Turnpike Lane Tube Station Going Step-Free?, I tried to explain the puzzling works going on at Turnpike Lane station.

Could those works be digging a lift-shaft or something in a more engineering line, like installing more ventilation or new power cables?

There’s certainly no clues on the Internet.

This table shows step-free status and 2019 passenger numbers at the Piccadilly Line stations to the North of Kings Cross St. Pancras station.

  • Cockfosters – Step-Free – 1.86 million
  • Oakwood – Step-free – 2.78 million
  • Southgate – 5.43 million
  • Arnos Grove – 4.44 million
  • Bounds Green – 5.99 million
  • Wood Green – 12.13 million
  • Turnpike Lane – 10.6 million
  • Manor House – 8.55 million
  • Finsbury Park – Step-free – 33.40 million
  • Arsenal – 2.77 million
  • Holloway Road – 6.69 million
  • Caledonian Road – Step-free – 5.60 million
  • Kings Cross St. Pancras – Step-free – 88.27 million

Note.

  1. The high passenger numbers at Finsbury Park and Kings Cross St. Pancras, where there is interchange with lots of other services.
  2. The long gap of step-free access between Oakwood and Finsbury Park.
  3. Arnos Grove could be an easier station to make step-free.

I just wonder, if a lift at Turnpike Lane station could be the interim solution, until inclined lifts are installed in the distant future.

 

 

June 16, 2021 Posted by | Design, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

My First Request For Music On The Radio Was Successful

At seventy-three, I’d never askd for a tune to be played on the radio.

The presenter on Radio 5 Live, asked listeners to suggest a track, that would be suitable for the times.

So, I texted in.

Surely, the best track for these times is We’ve gotta get out of this place, by the Animals!

I was very surprised, when they played it!

As many do, I’ve got the name of the song wrong, as it’s actually We Gotta Get Out of This Place.

I certainly saw The Animals, at least twice.

The first time was when I was about sixteen, at the Regal Edmonton, where they topped the bill, with the Nashville Teens being the second group. I can remember Eric Burdon singing House Of The Rising Sun, highlighted by a red spotlight.

I also saw them at Cook’s Ferry Inn, when they chose a replacement for Alan Price and I may have seen them whilst at Liverpool University.

Those were the days!

December 29, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Bristol Illegal Rave Attended By 700 People

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the sub-title.

Police say they were attacked as they tried to break up an illegal rave at a warehouse near Bristol.

Let’s hope it gives lots of work for criminal defence solicitors.

November 1, 2020 Posted by | Health, News | , , , , | 3 Comments

The Death Of My Son George

In some ways our youngest son; George, was more my baby, than my wife’s!

When you have three children under three, you have to devise a system so they can all be fed, watered and managed.

In the early 1970s, I was working at home, writing software for the likes of companies like Lloyds Bank, Plessey, Ferranti and others, usually by means of a dial-up line to a company called Time Sharing Ltd. in Great Portland Street.

  • So most days George sat on my desk in a plastic baby chair, as I worked.
  • C would look after the two elder children, generally taking them to the park or friends.
  • George was still in nappies, real not disposable. We did use a nappy service!
  • I sometimes wonder, if I can still install a proper nappy on a baby!
  • I would feed him as I worked.
  • George also used to come with me to visit clients, I had to meet at Great Portland Street. Usually, the secretaries would steal him away.

It was a system, that worked well for all of us.

Of our three children, George was the only one, that C thought could be coeliac, as I am. Mothers know their families! We once tried to test him with a self-test kit from the Internet. but the results were inconclusive.

I now believe he was coeliac for one genetic reason. His daughter was born with a severe congenital hernia of the diaphragm and research shows this can be linked to a coeliac father.

At least I was lucky with my three boys in this respect, but it points to George being coeliac.

George worked in the music business and was the sound engineer on some of the work of Diane Charlemagne. I met Diane once, when I stood on The Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, which I wrote about in Fun and Games at the Fourth Plinth.

  • Diane was working as the security guard and it was an amazing coincidence, that we realised our connection through George.
  • She spoke highly of his work.

Sadly Diane died of kidney cancer in 2015.

George didn’t drink, but he smoked heavily and not just tobacco. He also lived on a very gluten-rich diet of Subways and the like.

I suspect that his immune system was as good as much protection as a chocolate colander in a tsunami!

I have discussed this with doctors, who specialise in cancer and they feel that it could have contributed to his death from pancreatic cancer.

  • George died at home.
  • He was not in much pain due to the morphine he was controlling through a pump and the cannabis he was smoking.
  • One day, he was in bed and talking to my then aristocratic girlfriend and myself, when he just expired.
  • There was no drama and he just went to sleep.

A few minutes later, my girlfriend and the housekeeper, laid out the body for the undertaker.

I had been at George’s quiet death, just like I had been at the birth of all three sons.

Looking Back

George died ten years ago and his death has left some marks on my mind.

  • Because of our early relationship, some of my grief for George was more like that of a mother.
  • George died a peaceful death, which with modern medicine should be almost a right for many!
  • His death has driven me to fund and take part in medical research, especially for pancreatic cancer.
  • I also feel strongly, we should steer clear of cannabis, eat sensibly and check as many as possible for coeliac disease.

But now above all, I have no fear of Covid-19 or death.

 

May 1, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Former Gasworks Turning Into Entertainment Venue

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on IanVisits.

This is the first paragraph.

Four giant warehouses and an empty field — a former gasworks in Tottenham — is to become a new entertainment venue.

These are some points about the venue.

  • Four interlinked warehouses capable of holding 10,000 people.
  • Ten acres of outdoor space.
  • Close to the soon-to-be-opened Meridian Water station.
  • It will be know as the Drumsheds.

The first event will be the Field Day on June 7-8, 2019.

This Google Map shows the location of the site.

Note.

  1. The blue-roofed shed in the North-East corner of the map, will be the centrepiece.
  2. The site is bordered on the West by Pymmes Brook and on the East by the Lea Navigation Canal.
  3. The grass area South of the sheds must be the outdoor space.
  4. Meridian Water station is perhaps four-hundred metres to the West.
  5. There’s even an IKEA and a large Tesco, for those who don’t want to hump their tent and food from hundreds of miles away.

Could this be the first of a new style of entertainment venue?

In some ways, this venture brings me back to the vibrant music scene in the area, where I grew up, just a few miles to the North-West.

Artists from the sixties, that I saw in the area included.

  • Adam Faith
  • Animals
  • Chuck Berry
  • Joe Brown
  • John Mayall with a very drunk Eric Clapton
  • Nashville Teens
  • Rolling Stones

But no venue was bigger than the large Regal Edmonton cinema, which held perhaps a few hundred!

After the recent opening of the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, this is surely more good news for the area, which has had its troubles over the last few years.

 

April 17, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

An Encounter In A Lift

I don’t use lifts on the trains very often, except when I am lumbered with heavy shopping, or to use a lift is substantially quicker.

This morning my Northern Line train arrived at Kings Cross, so that I alighted right by the lift, in time to see two ladies with babies in buggies, leave the lift and get on the platform.

Now this was a time-saving that was too good to be true, as this lift drops you just by the ticket gates.

I waited to press the button, in case someone else needed the lift.

My only companion turned out to be an attractive tall lady about thirty, who was strikingly dressed, with a very short leather skirt and shoes with the some of the highest heels, I’ve ever seen on the street.

If I do travel in a lift, I like to not be youngest person in the lift, as one has to keep up standards and fight hard against anno domini.

So I said to the lady. “Thanks for coming in the lift, as I make it a rule not to use a lift, unless there’s someone younger than myself on-board!”

She smiled and replied. “I can’t climb the stairs in these f**king shoes!”

Trying to be sympathetic, I said. “Couldn’t you have worn something more comfortable?”

“No!” She replied! “I’m a backing singer going to an audition. One has to impress!”

I hope all her efforts were rewarded!

 

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Kim Quite Dim!

The name was used by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull in a Radio 5 interview with Rhod Sharp at four o’clock this morning.

Up All Night is always a good listen, when sleep is difficult.

January 30, 2018 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

The Pop Group That Saved A City With A Little Help From Their Friends

It is the fiftieth anniversary of the release of one of the best albums of all time; Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I bought the album and still have it somewhere.

But I don’t think most people understand how the Beatles changed a city completely.

Liverpool in the sixties had nasty undercurrents of violence and religious hatred. But  in the five years, I lived in the city, these changed for the better, with the rivalry being transferred to support for your favourite group or football team.

Liverpool acquired a belief that it could take on the world and win.

Now, when I go back regularly, I find a confident, bustling, modern and friendly city, that compares to any in the world.

But what would have happened if the Beatles hadn’t?

April 5, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

A Visit To New Brighton

I hadn’t been to New Brighton since C and myself went during Panto Week, to see Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Fortunes at New Brighton Tower Ballroom. Tickets had been sold in aid of Panto Week.

I don’t remember much of the night, except for Gerry Marsden complaining about the piano and walking off.

The Fortunes rescued the night by playing both spots.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment