A day on the District Line
Yesterday I took a day trip exploring the branches at the Western end of the District Line. Bits of the District Line form some of the oldest parts of the London Underground system, with steam-hauled services between South Kensington and Westminster starting as far back as December 1868.
The first branch I headed down was the Wimbledon branch. This allowed me to have a look at the South London Tram system, which I've not seen before, and then gradually make my way back up the branch towards Earls Court.
My first stop, East Putney, was chiefly notable for having a platform branded with lots of London Olympic Bid flags. Putney Bridge was next, which has what looks like the Underground's narrowest staircase - above the ticket hall a tiny staircase leads into the back offices. Getting off there gave me the opportunity to wander down by the side of the Thames, and then to cross the railway bridge on foot.
The next station I wanted to visit was West Brompton. This also gave me the chance to have lunch in the Cemetery there. It is noticeable for perhaps having the largest collection of tame and crazy squirrels in London, although as the photo below shows, if you can't see their cute bushy tails they do look just like rats.
I then headed back to Earls Court, so that I could venture onto a different branch. Which is where the journey got very exciting, but went slightly wrong. No sooner had I pulled into Earls Court, but the District Line was shut down because someone was on the loose on the lines between Earls Court and High Street Kensington. The man was then spotted running along the tracks at the eastern end of the station, and a team of police and a guy from London Transport set off to chase him.
The District Line is halted by reports of someone on the tracks
The trespasser is spotted from the platforms at Earls Court (honest, he looked a lot less like a blurry smudge in real life)
The current is off, and a search party of Police and an LT official set of in hot pursuit
In fact in the next hour-and-a-half I only managed to visit three stations, Ealing Common, Chiswick Park and Ravenscourt Park. Ealing Common is served by both the Piccadilly and the District Lines, but the Eastbound platform is currently closed due to refurbishment work, so I had to double-back on the Piccadilly Line, and then wait for ages for a District Line to travel back further than Acton Town. I was glad I got off at Chiswick Park, as although it looks very unimpressive at platform level, the ticket hall has a an absolute classic circular station design.
I was able to skip visiting Turnham Green or Stamford Brook, as I passed through them on the start and finish of our Ghost Walk through Chiswick, and at Ravenscourt Park I thought I'd take a break to allow the service to get back to normal. I found myself in the very pleasant beer garden of The Hampshire, although I was very surprised to find that in the middle of the afternoon with a client base existing of exactly me and two (other) old blokes, it was pumping out electro-clash. Very odd. I resumed my journey by heading down the Richmond branch, stopping at Kew Gardens and at Richmond itself.
My favourite things on the trip?
- Seeing one of the Back The Bid branding stickers on the Victoria Line, that had been altered to read "Make Britain proud - Fuck Blair"
- Fake crowds on the roof of Wimbledon station made out of railings
- Watching someone feeding the squirrels and pigeons in West Brompton Cemetery a mere 2 metres away from the sign saying "Please do not feed the squirrels or pigeons"
- Watching the chase at Earls Court
- Bursting into a unexpected grin whilst waiting at Ravenscourt Park station as I reflected on how much I was enjoying myself :-)