Thursday 30 September 2021

Gannin Along The Scotswood Road (1)

Bet You Didn't Know ...

... that the iconic Geordie song "Blaydon Races" is, amongst other things, about a bus crash. Here are the lyrics in full with interjections about local locations and references.

Aa went te Blaydon Races, t’was on the ninth of June
Eighteen hundred and sixty two, on a summer’s afternoon
Aa took a bus from Balmbra’s and she was heavy laden
Away went along Collingwood Street that’s on the road to Blaydon

Balmbra's was a pub cum music hall at which Geordie Ridley performed "Blaydon Races", a song which he composed. The place was rebuilt but the frontage retained some of the character of its predecessor.
The interior wasn't huge, but fbb guesses evening were "lively".
A notice of the opening is preserved in local archives.
Collingwood Road ...
... leads from Newcastle city centre down to Central Station.
We flew past Armstrongs factory, reet up te the Robin Adair
Just gannin’ doon te the railway bridge, the bus wheel flew off there
The lasses lost thor crinolines and the veils that hid thor faces
Aa got two black eyes and a broken nose in gannin’ te Blaydon Races

Armstrong's Factory, at Elswick, became Armstrong Whitworth and later Vickers Armstrong. Much of its output was military hardware and it employed thousands.
The "Robin Adair pub is long gone.

The Scotswood Railway Bridge ...
... no longer carries trains but is used for utility pipelines.

Noo when we got the wheel put on away we went again
But them that had their noses broke, they came back ower hyem
Some went te the dispensary and some to Doctor Gibbs’s
And some to the infirmary to mend their broken ribs’s

Noo when we got to Paradise there was bonny game begun
There was four and twenty on the bus, man how they danced and sung
They called on me to sing a song, I sung them Paddy Fagan
Aa danced a jig an swung me twig, that day I went to Blaydon

Paradise is an area of Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England. It is centred on the area at the bottom of Atkinson Road, where it used to meet Scotswood Road.

In the Old Ordnance Survey map of Elswick for 1913 Paradise is just a small part of South Benwell, comprising the north shore of the River Tyne just west of the Armstrong Elswick Works, running up to Paradise Street and Evelyn Gardens, and the bottom half of Atkinson Road.
It looks as if Paradise is Lost!

We flew across the Chain Bridge, reet into Blaydon Town
The bellman he was caallin’ there, they called him Jackie Broon
Aa saw him talkin’ to some cheps and them he was persuadin’
Te gan and see Geordie Ridley’s show in The Mechanics Hall at Blaydon

"The Chain Bridge" as it was known locally. It was a suspension bridge with two stone towers, from which the road deck was suspended by chains. It was passed by parliament in 1829 and designed by John Green, with construction beginning that year. When it was opened on 16 April 1831 it was the first bridge over the River Tyne to be opened during Tyneside's industrial era.
It was demolished in 1967 when ts replacement was opened.

Geordie puts himself in his own song.
He died aged 31, having never fully recovered from a mining accident. But he did perform the song at the Mechanics Hall.
The Mechanics Hall later became a Co-op Butcher's shop ...
... also demolished!

The rain it poured doon aal day and made the ground quite muddy
Coffee Johnny had a white hat on – they yelled ‘we (who) stole the cuddy?
Thor was spice stalls and monkey shows and aad wives sellin’ ciders
And a chap with a ha’penny roondaboot shootin’ ‘Noo me lads for riders’.

It was obviously a fun-packed day despite the typical Northern weather.
Doesn't seem to be much racing.

Horses were raced in at least three locations at or near Blaydon. Simple "point to point" happened where Blaydon railway station is now. 
The third manifestation was on a course at Stella to the west of the town.
Later the site became part of the Power Station complex ...
... which was situated on both banks of the Tyne. The racecourse area is now a housing estate.
When Geordie sang the eponymous song, races took place on Blaydon Island, one of several in the Tyne at the time.
The island is shown just above "Blaydon", bottom centre of the above fuzzy map!

It too has been demolished! The islands were all dredged into oblivion to improve navigation.

There are three problems with enjoyment of the song. Firstly, it is all written in a foreign language.
Secondly it is set in "The North" which for many readers starts at Watford Junction. And thirdly, most of us only know the chorus!

So, all together now ...

Ah me lads, ye shudda seen us gannin',
We pass'd the foaks alang the road just as they wor stannin';
Thor wis lots o' lads an' lassies there, aal wi' smiling faces,
Gannin' alang the Scotswood Road, to see the Blaydon Races.

Oh? You didn't know the chorus either?

But fbb really did not know about the bus crash! There is no record of which company was operating to private hire at the time!

Tomorrow we look at today's buses to Blaydon.

Sadly, none of the services we examine would be Gannin Along The Scotswood Road!

Two London Snippets
Kings Cross Station with four Azumas waiting to depart.
And somewhere in commuterland but with a magnificant sun!

 Not Gannin Along The Scotswood Road : Friday 1st Oct 

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Battersea Power Station Station (2)

Bigger On The Inside Than The Outside

Now that would be the answer to a transport planner's wildest dreams. Plenty of peak hour capacity, no contribution to congestion, no emissions**, free fuel**, computer driven so no need for driver training, minimal parking footprint,  and, even better, easily adaptable to low use rural routes.

** The manufacturers, based on Gallifrey, are a little coy about what fuel is used, but we can be sure that a 25th century vehicle would, by definition, be very low emission. The coal mines on Gallifrey were destroyed in the Great Time Wars and the oil reserves were stolen in one of the many Dalek invasions.

On a less fanciful note, the builders of London's Underground were determined to make an impact with their station design. There was initial consumer resistance to descending into the dark and creepy Stygian Gloom to take a ride.

The City and South London Railway (which begat today's Northern Line) commissioned some snazzy station buildings.

Clapham South would really stand out at a major road junction ...
... and, today, even after gaining the surround of a block of red-brick flats ...
... it is still obvious what it is and what goes on therein.

Even the humble Clapham Common station, which was squeezed into a tiny triangle of land ...
... was given a "classical" dome to match the civic pride of the clock tower.
The drinking fountain is no longer there to refresh weary travellers for free, but even amongst the clutter of the 21st century, the station makes its mark.
Underground, these stations are a tad on the basic side ...
...  and certainly well below the opulence of the newcomers on the Battersea Power station line.
But domes were a theme! this is Oval station way back when.
... with a big daddy dome and a little baby dome. But this is Oval station today ...
... massively done-up and domeless. The big domes were covers for lift equipment and when the lifts were replaced by escalators the domes were removed - shame!

But, because it still has lifts ...
  ... Kennington's dome remains ...
... at one time sporting a variety of windows.
... now removed! fbb could not discover what purpose the windows served.
But just around the corner (well, around two corners actually) strange TARDIS-like manifestations have appeared.

Firstly in Kennington Park ...
... and secondly on Kennington Green.
Here are the locations on Streetmap.
The Green is a little, well, green near the Gasworks of the eponymous cricketers "End" (top centre of map above) and now looks a bit like its artist's impression.
And it really IS bigger on the inside than on the outside.
The visible block is the "head shaft" for ventilation systems (and other clever technical stuff) for the "inbound" Battersea Power Station station line. An equivalent Streetview view may help in locating the shaft (and gasworks!)
Much the same happens at Kennington Park near the junction of Kennington Park Place and Agnes Road (map, centre right). This was on the outbound tunnel.
There is an awful lot more "down below".
In this case, Streetview cannot replicate this particular view of the street because the headshaft is IN the park, seen here via Google Earth.
It all goes to show that building an underground line is a very tricky job. 

Here is a video of a visit well before the job was complete.
Did you spot that the extension tunnels are bigger than standard to provide for a walkway for ease of escape in an emergency? Better safety but more cost for any new tube project to carry; so don't expect a rush of new tube lines in the near future!

There may be little future in the idea to extend the new line from Battersea Power Station station to Clapham Junction station.
It is not very far away, and the link would relieve pressure on the interchanges at Waterloo.

In the Google Earth download, the former power station is top right and the junction bottom left. (click on the aerial view for an enlargement).
And, as we all know, Clapham Junction station is NOT in Clapham - it is in Battersea!

Whatever? there is more to a "simple" new bit of underground than just a couple of tunnels and two stations.

Tomorrow we go to the Races - historically and virtually!

 Next North East blog : Wednesday 30th September 

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Battersea Power Station Station (1)

 From Fire to Power

Were you to travel to Monument underground station, leave the station entrance and walk south towards the Thames on what is the A3 ...
... and hang a left ...
... you would be looking at the eponymous "Monument".

The Monument to the Great Fire of London, more commonly known simply as the Monument, is a Doric column in London, England, situated near the northern end of London Bridge. Commemorating the Great Fire of London, it stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, 202 feet in height and 202 feet west of the spot in Pudding Lane where the Great Fire started on 2 September 1666. Constructed between 1671 and 1677, it was built on the site of St Margaret, New Fish Street, the first church to be destroyed by the Great Fire.

En route you might miss the little blue plaque on the new-ish building to the right.
Here once stood the northern terminus of the first underground railway in the world ...
... and the first electrified railway in the world.
In 1900 the line was diverted and eventually formed part of today's Northern Line. The original southern terminus was at Stockwell, but the line was progressively extended until, in 1926, it reached its present terminus at Morden.
At Kennington, a junction was made with what we now call the Northern Line Charing Cross Branch. Part of the 1926 extension work was to create a turning loop.
Trains turned by trundling round the loop rather than the traditional Underground "reverse" in a siding or at a platform.

If trains from the City branch are scheduled to reverse, they usually use the turn-back siding as shown in the map below.
Passengers are not allowed to travel round the loop from Kennington to Kennington, but some do - either by hiding from platform staff or by being asleep, drunk and thus tactfully ignored. Those that do manage to avoid the opprobrium of the station staff may choose to buy the T-shirt.
It comes in a choice of 6 colours and costs £17.99 - which is more than fbb would want to pay for full evening dress!! Anyone can by one; fbb could even though he would be too frit to try to make the journey!

Enthusiastic but forbidden riders of "the loop" are somewhat aghast at the opening of the new line to Battersea Power Station station. The fear is that, if all trains that would have terminated at Kennington are extended to Battersea Power Station, the loop will fall into disuse.

It is the only such on the Underground.

At one time there was a loop at Shepherds Bush/Wood Lane ...
... shown as dotted lines in todays underground track plan or conventionally on the street map below.
Recent interest has, of course, been aroused by the extension to Battersea Power Station station. The building at the terminus is a stylish building ...
... some distance from the former power station. Banks of escalators lead down to brightly lit platforms.
But, all a round the station, you can enjoy ...
... acres of awesomeness.

fbb cannot wait to enjoy the awe!

Nine Elms is rather more prosaic in design ...
... with escalators leading up ...
... from a wide and bright circulating area between to two platforms.
You do wonder whether the expense of electronic departure screens was a worthwhile investment with just one stop left!
But these new stations are so much brighter than traditional Northern Line offerings, even though the originals have been well refurbished.
Currently trains run every 12 minutes and the stations are both in Zone 1 which has been especially extended in a little bubble to accommodate the new stations.
Question: Is this the LEAST FREQUENT bit of the underground in Zone 1?

But fbb is interested much more in the history of Kennington Station and the developments round about which have evolved as part of the new Northern Line extension.

 Next Power Station station blog : 29th September