Thursday 2 October 2014

Underground Overground [Part 4]

Old Oak Common Observation
Originally Old Oak Common was a stretch of land defined by what became the Harrow Road at its northern end (Holsdon, now Harlesden!), and its eastern edge was the northern source of Stamford Brook, forming a boundary with Wormwood Scrubs. By 1801 (as in the old map above) the Paddington Canal had cut it in half, further reducing its size.

The act of April 1795 authorised a 13.5-mile branch to Paddington from Bull's Bridge near Hayes.
The junction, under the white bridge, can still be seen today from the car park of Tesco Extra at Hayes.
The branch was completed in 1801 and, with its large basin at Paddington and many wharfs along its length, it became an important trade route.

With the coming of the railways, most of the common was lost and what remained became part of Wormwood Scrubs.
click on the map above for an enlargement

The railways do, however, maintain a little of the history of the area. The Mitre, a long lost pub on the line of the present Wood Lane and near the bridge over the canal, ...
... is now lost under industrial development.
But it gives it name to Mitre Bridge Junction on the railways.

Likewise Acton Wells, source of life enhancing waters in times gone by ...
... but now only recorded in a street name ...
... also gives its name to Acton Wells Junction. The network of railways in the area is hugely complicated and the history is simply too vast to condense into a blog or two. This excellent on-line diagram (drawn for 2006) does, at least, show something of the peak of railway activity at Old Oak Common.
click on the diagram to enlarge

Perhaps for the simple minded (like fbb), the most important conclusion is to recognise that the Great Western main lines out of Paddington cross from centre right to left bottom, whist the main lines out of Euston just creep in across the top. Overground trains to Clapham Junction pass Mitre Bridge Junction and Boris' Orange route to Richmond passes Acton Wells. Willesden Junction stations are just off the top of the map neat the Freightliner Terminal [FLT].

If you are in skilful mode, you can match the above diagram with this Google Earth extract.
The present Wormwood Scrubs is at the bottom and the Paddington canal wiggles from the top left corner.

But, you may well ask, what has this to do with Boris' 2026 Overground Map?
the devil, they say, is in the detail; this detail in particular:-
It is a brand new station shown as offering interchange with the shadowy Crossrail as it wends it merry way westwards from Paddington.

But ...

There are several "buts" which we will explore tomorrow.

 Next Overground blog : Friday 3rd October 

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