Sunday 22 June 2014

Travellers' Tales Number 2

From Towers of Academe to Holborn Office Block

No 1 son has changed his job. For ten years he has worked with the ivy covered dons and golden sandstone pinnacles of the University of Oxford.
Well actually not; in a very un-Oxfordian modern office block at Summertown!
He is now manager of something computerised and impressive at the University of the Arts, London. No, neither had fbb!
University of the Arts London (formerly the London Institute) is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom specialising in art, design, fashion and media. It is a collegiate university comprising six constituent colleges: Camberwell College of Arts, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion and Wimbledon College of Art.

The university is Europe's largest provider of education in art, design, fashion, communication and the performing arts. It brings together 19,000 students from over 100 different countries, including 2,250 further education students, 14,000 undergraduates and 2,700 postgraduate and research students. It is also a leading provider of short courses on creative subjects, with around 20,000 people aged 10 to 82 taking a course across the academic year.

The boy (aged 39!) will be based here ...
... at 272 High Holborn, London. The family does not wish to move, so commuting is the order of the day. And it begins with a drive and park at Didcot and trains at least every 15 minutes to London's Paddington terminus. Then what?

The obvious answer is Bakerloo Line underground to Oxford Circus, then Central Line to Holborn. Easy peasy.
And that is what the journey planners say, the clever little bits of electronic trickery that they are. "Any chance of a route involving fresh air?" enquires the lad.

Paddington Station (like Euston) is surprisingly well hidden behind the Hilton on Praed Street ...
... but the main entry/exit route runs alongside the hotel and so to the bus stops.
Bus is not really an option. London Buses 205, successor to the circular SL1 and SL2 ...
... and even further in the past, successor to the "Inter Station" bus ...
... would get you to Euston, then it's another bus (or a walk) and a total journey time of about 45 minutes. And buses at peak time could hardly be described as "being in the fresh air".

No 3 son was then "on the case" and proffered something a little out of the ordinary. Non-circling Circle or Hammersmith & City to Farringdon and then walk. That has the advantage that you can ride in the back of the train from Didcot and nip out over the footbridge ...
... to the super-swish new entry and ticket hall for the pink or yellow lines.
Those of us whose knowledge of London is coloured by the Underground map might challenge this idea; but it's not so daft.
fbb was commissioned to investigate bus when he had a very rare Eureka moment.
Again, we are so very conditioned by Harry Beck's masterpiece that we forget that the map is a diagram and, in places, a decidedly inaccurate one at that. Here is the Paddington area:-
And here is reality.
Brunel's imposing terminus is top centre and, bottom right, below the tower block is ... ta da! ...
... Lancaster Gate station on the Central Line - and only 8 minutes to Holborn. No 1 son gets a brisk stroll, his breath of fresh air (well, as fresh as air can be in central London), suffers only a brief troglodite travail courtesy of London Underground and arrives fresh and cheery at his desk.

In terms of time, not much longer than creeping through the claustrophobic catacombs of the Bakerloo Line at Paddington ...
... lumbering through the log-jammed labyrinth that is the Oxford Circus interchange ...
... and battling with Central Line crowds for just two stops.

No 1 son agrees that the route is excellent after empyrical examination! At Lancaster Gate, he reports, there is a significantly smaller hoarde of hurrying hassled humanity than at Paddington or Oxford Circus; almost pleasant.

Have a nice day!

 Next bus blog : Monday 23rd June 


  1. This is a journey I know well, as my (fairly) regular commute is Filton to St Paul's/Barbican.
    Bus home to Bristol Parkway.
    Train to Paddington.
    Tube H&C to Barbican / Bakerloo and Central to St Paul's / Central Lancaster Gate to St Paul's.
    The latter is invariably the quickest, especially if you use the unofficial shortcut...
    Of course, there used to be an exit off platform 1 straight to Eastbourne Terrace, which was convenient. Even more convenient is the shortcut - up the escalator in front of Platform 2, past Starbucks, in the back entrance of the Hilton, past hotel reception, and out the front onto Praed St. So much quicker than the ramp up in front of Platform 8 to the street, especially when coming from the lower numbered platforms.

  2. "And that is what the journey planners say". I'm not sure which ones you have tried, but both the TfL journey planner and Traveline offered both the Bakerloo/Central and Lancaster Gate options when I looked this morning.

  3. Thanks NMcB : I couldn't get Lancaster Gate from TfL, but it was an option on Traveline.