“ The first electric railway in the world and first line to go south of the Thames. The Northern Line is a deep-level tube line of the London Underground, coloured black on the Tube map. It is the busiest line on the Underground network with 206,734,000 passengers a year. It has two routes through Central London and two to the north making it one of the more complicated lines on the system. Despite its name, it is the Underground line that extends farthest south. „
I have lived in North West London for most of my life so far.... thats over 40 years and have what i would call the misfortune to have had to travel on the Northern line for both work and for going out and about.
When i was little i remember getting the train from up London to Mill Hill East Station; we always had to wait about 30 minutes for a train going there. In those days The Northern Line trains were all red. As a child i used to wave to the Northern line train drivers on a bridge in Finchley Central. I also have some sad memories of Finchley Central station.. but i wont go into that!
The Northern line was actually originally started in 1890! but its current layout was built through 1920's to 1930's.
The Northern line is the black coloured line on London Underground Tube maps. There are various branches to the Northern line; High Barnet, Edgware, Morden, Camden Town, Charing Cross.
Much of the Northern line is underground with surprisingly little being overground, even though the lines runs out into the suburbs of part of North and South London.
All in all i have probably spent about 6 working years travelling to and from work on 'The misery line'. To be honest, i have to admit, its great for getting to Central London. You can be in Leicester Square in about 30 minutes from East Finchley Station. However, it is not infrequent for the line to have signal problems/failures. Just the other day; on Sunday to be exact; i had the bright idea of me and my partner going to Edgware to collect a Television for my partner. I had pre ordered it from Argos and just had to collect it. My partner didn't feel like going and said he would pick it up on the Monday. I said, why don't we get it over and done with today. We could have gone by bus; but we thought it would be alot quicker by tube, considering it was a Sunday...... how wrong we were!!!
The first part of the journey to Camden Town was fine; we got there in about 20 minutes. We then had to change lines and basically sort of go back on ourselves to the part of the Northern line that goes to Edgware. Just to change the story for a bit... that is something that really annoys me about the Northern line. You cannot easily get to Edgware.. well not directly. You basically have to go into London (Camden Town) and then go back out again! You see the part of The Northern line we live on is on The High Barnet Branch and to get to Edgware you must of course take The Edgware branch. It would be so much simpler, if when they made this line... it went straight across to Edgware, but alas it doesn't. Anyway, we tried to transfer to The Edgware branch at Camden Town. We waited and waited; the first train was only going to Hampstead, and after that...... nothing! We decided to go out of the station to have a cigarrette, and on the way asked what was wrong with the trains. Nobody seemed to know, other than 3 trains were apparently 'stuck in the tunnel'.
We went back down and waited again.... noticing police, ambulance crews and TFL staff on the platform, along with lots of bottles of water. Eventually we were told there were no trains; we decided to go back home... neither of us were amused (still at least we hadn't been stuck in the tunnel for almost an hour like some other poor passengers!!) . In the end it turned out this was all due to signal failure and basically there were no trains now running. Unfortunately we had to get 2 buses home from Camden Town!!!!
When i used to travel to work there were often problems with this line usually re signal failures.
Overall the whole of the Underground is like hell on Earth in the rush hour(s) as i am sure those of you who have commuted into and out of London, will know! Just try it in the summer though!! Well, that is to say, when we have had extreme temperatures; the Northern Line is unbelievably hot; there is no air conditioning and TFL have stated that it is not possible for the Northern line to be fitted with Air con (unlike the Metropolitan line and later the Hammersmith & City, District and Circle lines). Apparently the Northern lines tunnels are too low for an air conditioning system to be viable. Sometimes commuters will faint or become ill whilst traveling in such heat and in such cramped and overcrowded conditions. It is essential that in such hot weather you ensure you travel with a bottle of water if going on this line in any case.
Edgware Branch; High Barnet Branch;
Edgware High Barnet
Burnt Oak Totteridge & Whetstone
Colindale Woodside Park
Hendon Central West Finchley
Brent Cross Finchley Central
Golders Green East Finchley
Belsize Park Archway
Chalk Farm Tufnell Park
Camden Town Kentish Town and Camden Town
~~~The tiny Mill Hill East Station is the last station branching off from Finchley Central station~~~
Trains will then either continue via Morden or Via Charing Cross going through either Mornington Crescent and Euston ( for Charing Cross Branch) or Kings Cross (For Bank branch)
Trains then end up at Kennington followed by ;
South Wimbledon and finally Morden
There was an incident which i couldn't quite believe when i first heard, that happened in 2010. I remember listening to the local news. A Northern line maintenance train 'travelled 4 miles in 13 minutes without the driver'!! Luckily no one was injured. Th train was actually being towed when it became detached and was totally empty, but this could have been a disaster under different circumstances.
Unfortunately i wont be giving the Northern line many stars; i have used it for such a long time and in my view there hasn't been very much improvement. However, if everything runs smoothly trains are frequent and you can get into Central London in a very quick time. I think it deserves 3 stars. I would love to be able to give it 5 some day, but i doubt that day will come!
Whenever anyone is willing to hear me rant about it, I am more than happy to go on for hours about how much I hate the Northern Line. Living in Euston and working in Bank for a summer, I was forced to ride this line every morning and every afternoon during one of London's hottest seasons on record.
I worked out my routine, finding that if I was late by only 5 minutes, the Southbound train would be miserably packed to capacity, with an armpit less-than-eagerly awaiting my head (I'm 5'). I intentionally stayed late at work every afternoon, or left too early, to avoid battling my way to the northbound platform at Bank, until I gave it up all together and walked the extra 10 minutes to Moorgate instead. I learned to leave clothes in the office, anticipating the sweaty, sticky jacket and shirt that were inevitable consequences of my morning commute.
Ever since that fateful summer, I have avoided the Northern Line at all costs - I most recently used it to attend the Bonfire Night fireworks in Clapham Common, and was alternately horrified and comforted that it's just as worse in the winter. Again, packed in like sardines as the train moved very, very slowly from station to station (due to the number of people who were packed on to the platforms), people were stripping off the innumerable layers of scarves, jackets, hats, and sweaters they had donned in anticipation of standing in the middle of a field in November, watching fireworks.
Well, at least it's miserable all year round!
Ah, the Northern Line (Aka The Misery Line). When I lived in South London, I used this line on a daily basis to travel to work. Like most of the London underground lines, this one is hot, crowded and subject to the odd delay. I'm not going to bash London Underground in general in this review as I think it is generally an ok system, is very convenient and quite punctual but there is one major underlying problem with the Northern Line (south of the river at least) and that is the fact it runs totally over capacity.
The trains are generally full up by the time it gets to Balham station and at this point, there are still three more stations to come before it starts emptying out - and this is on a good day. A delay of just 2 or 3 minutes causes chaos. I really sympathise with people from Clapham who rely on this service to get to work.
The other issue I have with the Northern Line is off peak and that is that there are no tubes running from the Charing Cross branch to Morden. This means that if you are out in the West End you have to change trains to get back to South London, which in turn means more crowded conditions for the final part of the journey and being squashed into someone's armpit when going home at 10pm is a little bit too much to take I think!
I have used two other tube lines to commute to work in my time in London - the Jubillee and Picadilly and while neither of these are perfect they both offer a better day to day experience than the Northern Line
The Northern line like EVERY line on the London Underground is absolutely useless!! Unpunctual timing and lack of regular service to ALL destinations, signal failures like their is no tomorrow and disgustingly looking ugly trains are just some of the reasons why never to travel on the underground unless their is absolutely no alternative!!
Furthermore if your a tourist travelling on the Northern Line, and passing all the filthy grotty parts of London (e.g Kings Cross, Morden, Kennington, Elephant and Castle), you would not want to ever visit London again. The carriages are dirty, hot, overcrowded and a great danger to the safety of the public. It takes an eternity to get from A to B on all underground lines, more so the Northern Line.
If you told somebody from a high-tech, efficient and well organised country like Germany or Japan, that it takes 35-40 minutes to travel 12 miles on the underground, they would think the UK is living in the 18th Century!! The Northern Line is pathetic. How did London ever get the Olympics, with an ancient transport system??!!
I?ve always loved the Northern Line for some odd reason, from the first time I saw it on the tube map: 1) It?s black, which is a very stylish colour 2) It stretches all the way across London from joint-furthest north to the furthest south of all the tube lines. 3) It is shaped like an angel?s wing 4) It has some of the best station names in london Here is an in-depth guide to some of those stations and the kind of mental images they create. Some of these stations I have never actually alighted at, so I should warn you that the descriptions may be inaccurate. Nevertheless, in my mind there is an idyllic world joined by a black line which I now proceed to describe. High Barnet ********** A metaphor for heaven. Something to aspire to. I imagine a Victorian funeral director comforting Mrs Brown with the euphemistic words, ?Don?t worry, my dear, Mr Brown has simply left for the happy fields of High Barnet? Morden ****** By a happy coincidence, the last stop of the southern section of the Northern Line also sounds like a metaphor for death, albeit a rather more unpleasant one. If you are a good boy you?ll end up in High Barnet, but if you are bad you?ll end your days with Morden (from latin, mortus;death). High Barnet, like heaven, is situated up at the top; Morden exists in the murky underworld of the London Tube Map. Let it roll off your tongue, let its morbid sound be a lesson to you, moooooooor-den. Totteridge & Whetstone ******************* Here, people in oversized stilettos struggle to maintain their balance as they pass among knife sharpeners, seated at their grinders. West Finchley, East Finchley, and Finchley Central ***************************************** Three types of finchley, how delightful. The lesser spotted finchley, the house finchley... Burnt Oak ******** As Grandpapa settles down in front of the fire for the evening, he lights h
is pipe, and the smoke rising through his nostrils reminds him of burnt oak. Tufnell Park ********** A slightly under-tended public garden, all the more delightful for its unkempt nature. Tufts of grass provide a wholesome playground for nature-lovers. Golders Green ************ The last rays of the setting sun gently caress the weeds in the outfield, as the village cricket match draws to a satisfying draw. This is golden England. Chalk Farm ********** An eccentric professor constructed the wind-powered chalk-mining device which stands in chalk farm around 1857. A windmill drives a rotating wheel, which slowly grinds away at quarry wall. Extra power, when needed, is provided by a sheep tethered to a turning device. ...and it goes on. On top of all this there is a guardian Angel, and a Bank for all your financial needs. Plus the Northern Line covers some of the most important stations: London Bridge, Charing Cross, Waterloo, King?s Cross etc. And Mornington Crescent (listeners of a certain radio programme will realise the significance of this). All these were enough reasons for me to like the Northern Line before, but... [cue sentimental music] ...that was before I was given the final reason to like it, which is that it is the line which takes me to see my girlfriend in Highgate [aw!]. Also, the Northern Line has Tooting Bec, which is the only tube station in London which sounds like a South African describing the return journey of an early motorcar.
Regularly travelling the full length of the Northern line (most recently, and memorably, in an ankle-length bridesmaids dress plus accompanying bits) is not my recommended way to experience the full joys of this tube line. But, together with commuting on the same line every day, it does give me some sort of perspective, especially on the Southern end. THOSE CONFUSING BRANCHES If you start from South London, the Northern line is less confusing. There's just one branch down there on the 'Other Side' (as my gran calls anything South of the river). Only once you reach Kennington do you have a choice. At that point, the momentous decision is City or West End? City will take you up to London Bridge and Bank (therefore called the Bank branch) and West End will take you up to Charing Cross, Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Road etc (therefore called the Charing Cross branch). Not so bad, is it. But then it gets more complicated. The line joins once more at Camden Town (fine, I hear you say) but immediately splits again. Here the choice is Edgware or High Barnet (with a few other options that are variations on how high up you get on either branch, such as Mill Hill East or Golders Green). The things to remember are: - its easy to change at Kennington and at Camden Town. Don't even think about it at Euston. - its marginally quicker to go up the Charing Cross branch than up the Bank branch (but not enough quicker to be worth waiting more than a couple of minutes for a Charing Cross train) - its almost always best to get the first train and change. For example, there are many more Bank than Charing Cross trains from South London, but quite a few Charing Cross trains start at Kennington, so its worth going there and waiting. (There's a complicated reason for this, to do with siding/ turning arrangements for the different branches at Kennington). - the change at Stockwell to the Victoria line is cr
oss-platform, so the best way from South London to Kings Cross/ Oxford Circus etc is to change to the Victoria line at Stockwell. STATIONS ON THE 'OTHER SIDE' The Northern and central London stations have already been thoroughly covered, so I thought I'd just quick a few quick highlights on the Southern ones. Any I've missed out are purely because I've never left the train there. Kennington - major interchange point between branches. The key thing here is that the change is cross-platform if you want to carry on in the same direction, but if you want to stop going South and start going North (or vice versa) you need to go up and down staircases. Outside the tube is a pleasant residential area. Oval - for the cricket. Stockwell - easy change to the Victoria line for the West End (Oxford Circus for shopping) or for Brixton. Vauxhall - sole use is an interchange with the mainline trains that come out of Waterloo on their way to Clapham Junction, which is handy but a rather long walk (leave at least 7 minutes for the change). Claphams (North, Common and South) - sorry, much to expensive for me, never get off there. Balham - like Clapham but marginally cheaper. Has some nice restaurants. Major attraction is the last interchange with mainline trains (the line that goes into Victoria via Clapham Junction). Tooting Bec - bit of a wasteland in terms of shops (especially up towards Balham) but has loads of big, nice houses. Also the nearest access to Tooting Common and the Lido. Tooting Broadway - fantastic market here (exotic fruit and veg, clothing, second-hand books, pound shops galore and fresh noodles) as well as the world's greatest collection of traffic offences. Colliers Wood - a few small shops dying in the shade of the massive Savacentre, and totally ruined by the black, peeling monolith to Eighties office building in the centre. Lots of
cheap housing, though. South Wimbledon - the grotty end of Wimbledon, but with a range of good takeaways. Worth knowing that is only 15 minutes walk to Wimbledon station (BR and District line) if you ever get stuck. Morden - zone four (finally!) and therefore cheaper again for property. Does now finally have a supermarket of its own, which seems to be a sign of the general renaissance that's happening there. Lots of buses from outside the station. THE MISERY LINE Well, not any more. I also use the District line quite a lot, and frankly the Northern line is quicker, more reliable and has a better service. The new trains (replacing the ones with wooden floors!) are much better, and have a handy voice address system, so even if you can't see out of the window through the mass of bodies you do at least know whether to start carving a route to the nearest door. There is also a LCD screen which tells you the next station and the train's final destination, which is handy if you sprinted for the train and didn't have time to check where it was going. The major problem with the new trains is that their door-beeps (the noise that warns you that the door is about to shut) sometimes get stuck in the 'on' position, and so you have to sit for a whole journey listening to a very irritating beeping noise. Also, they still don't have proper air-conditioning (this would involve major engineering work to the tunnels) but the air blowers are definitely improved. As far as service reliability goes, its pretty high. There are a couple of stations that tend to get flooded when it rains really hard (Kennington and Morden) and there is the occasional a signal failure, but I've only ever had to get off and get the bus twice in the last three years. And one of those was because someone had thrown themselves onto the tracks, which really isn't the Northern line's fault. It does get c
rowded at rush hour, but its rare that I can't physically force myself onto the train, and there are plenty of things to hold on to if you don't get a seat. My major complaint is that, if you're short, in summer you get a wide variety of unpleasant, strap-hanging armpits shoved in your face. Ugh!
I've been using the Northern Line on a more-or-less daily basis for the last two years, and used to travel on it fairly regularly prior to that, as I live just outside London. Deservedly, the line has acquired the nickname of the 'Misery line', for its consistently poor performance record. The trains are unbelievably crowded, especially during the morning and evening rush hour. I often find that if I want to head home (High Barnet – one of the northernmost ends of the line) from Euston station at about 6pm, it's worth my while to find things to do for another hour at work, just so that I can travel on the Underground in some degree of comfort. The subject of the quality of Underground service in general seems to come up with staggering regularity in Parliament, and the Northern Line has come in for some of the most critical attacks. As John Marshall MP (Hendon, South) said in November 1994 "Those of us who listen to London News radio occasionally hear the phrase, 'On the Northern line, service is back to normal.' What does 'service is back to normal' mean? It means trains that are 35 years old, which date from 1959, the year of Harold Macmillan's great election victory. It means signalling that is near the end of its useful life, track that is scarcely the most modern and a dot matrix system that is certainly not infallible in the information that it gives customers. It means embankments close to collapse and a drainage system that is scarcely adequate." Admittedly, new rolling stock was introduced in 1995, mercifully, and it took until 2000 to phase out the 1959 rolling stock, but nonetheless, his comments about reliability still stand, and signal failure at some point on the line is an almost weekly occurrence, in my experience. There has not been a single day since I began travelling regularly on the Northern Line that the whole line has been open! In fact, just this week, quite apart from the
inconvenience of the tube strike, I have been actually prevented from making my way home because stations have been closed due to overcrowded platforms, a knock-on effect due to signal failures. HISTORY The Northern Line is the oldest 'tube' line in the London Underground, and therefore the oldest such Underground line in the world. There's a semantic difference between tube lines, and so called 'subsurface' lines, distinguished by the line's construction method. Tube lines, such as the Northern Line, are constructed by boring tunnels, whereas 'subsurface' lines (such as the older Hammersmith & City Line) are constructed by digging a trench, and covering it over. It originally opened in 1870, consisting of a 410 metre long tunnel running under the Thames near Tower Bridge. Losing money hand over fist, the line closed three months after opening, and the tunnel was converted into a foot tunnel. The same constructors had the rights to build a second Underground line further west, known as the "Southwark and City Subway". However, after the catastrophic financial disaster of the Tower Bridge line, they decided to shelve their plans. By 1884, one of the investors decided to chance his arm constructing this second line, under a new name, the "City of London & Southwark Subway", running from the City down to Elephant and Castle. After completion of this segment, in 1887, he received permission from Parliament to extend the line down to Stockwell. The City of London and Southwark Subway opened in 1890, having changed name again to the "City & South London Railway". Unfortunately, the northern end of the line, the King William Street terminus, proved to be in an inconvenient location for most commuters, and wasn't able to handle the many passengers who wanted to use it. In 1895, the station was enlarged and rebuilt. This still proved inadequate, so the station was a
bandoned, and the line rerouted to run across the river to Moorgate. In 1893, the "Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead railway" (snappy title, huh?) was authorised, but problems of raising money for its construction meant that it wasn't built until nearer after the turn of the century. The line was originally proposed to run from Charing Cross to Hampstead, with an additional branch leading out to Archway, however, the financial backer, Yerkes, insisted that the line be extended beyond Hampstead to Golders Green. A further extension was also constructed from Charing Cross south to Embankment. In 1913, the Yerkes group purchased the City and South London Railway, and amalgamated the two lines. A junction was constructed between the two lines at Camden Town, and the CCE&HR was extended down to Kennington via Waterloo to meet the other line. The main problem was what to call the resulting line, the clumsy title "Edgware, Highgate & Morden Line" was popular for a while, and it wasn't until 1937, that it gained the name "Northern Line". Between 1935 and 1940, the Northern Heights extensions were made to the northern end of the Northern Line, extending it from Finchley Central out to High Barnet. Other extensions were planned, including extending the line out to Watford and Finsbury Park, but these had to be shelved because of the start of World War II. The result is that the Northern Line is a sprawling mess. Camden Town station is in fact two stations (one for the High Barnet branch, and one for the Edgware branch), with an incredibly complex system of intersections between it and Euston station. BRANCHING One of the main problems with the Northern line, or at least, the aspect of the line that seems to cause tourists most problems, is the fact that there are so many branches of it. Two branches of the Northern Line run through central London, one via Bank, and one via Cha
ring Cross. If you want to get from one branch to the other, the only way to do it (without changing lines) is to go South to Kennington, or North to Euston, and change platforms. These two branches confuse the hell out of tourists, who often when boarding a Northern Line train at Euston, will regard Warren Street station (first station South on the Charing Cross branch) with fear and distrust for daring not to be Kings Cross (first station South on the Bank branch). The thing to do, if you're new to London, and not familiar with the line is to work out in advance which branch you want to be on, and change appropriately. The worst thing to do is to get off your train at Euston, stare blankly at the signs while standing in the middle of the crowded corridors, and then bumble off onto the wrong train. Then, to the north of central London, between Euston and Camden Town, the Northern line branches again – with two lines, one heading for High Barnet (with a small tributary leading off towards Mill Hill East) and one heading for Edgware. Relatively few tourists seem to head this far out of central London, but you'll still see the odd commuter waking up at Chalk Farm (first station north on the Edgware branch), snarling, disembarking the train, and waiting for one back into town, so they can get another out toward High Barnet. Chances are, that commuter's probably me. THE STATIONS There are no less than 48 stations on the various branches of the Northern Line, so I'm going to restrict myself to talking about the stations that I have any experience of, and try to tell you a little about the stations, and what's worth seeing in the local area. - COLINDALE Near the Northern end of the Edgware branch can be found Colindale station. An unremarkable station in itself, but nearby can be found the British Library's newspaper collection. The newspaper collection contains some 650,000 bound volumes of newspa
pers and magazines, and over 320,000 reels of microfilm. The collections of United Kingdom newspapers are comprehensive from the 1840s onwards. However, the library can often be very crowded, and requesting volumes can be very time-consuming. Also, just up the road from Colindale Underground station along Edgware Road can be found Oriental City – a large Japanese supermarket, with an excellent collection of video games in the attached Sega Dome, and some superb restaurants in their food court. There's also a Japanese bookshop. A brief walk from Colindale underground station, in the other direction from Oriental City, is the RAF Museum at Hendon, on Grahame Park Way. Admission is a pretty hefty £7.50 for adults, but well worth the entrance fee, as the museum is very large, and boasts an excellent collection of aircraft from World War I and II, including a Sopwith Camel, and Spitfires. Check out their website at http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk - BRENT CROSS One of London's largest and most unbelievably popular out-of-town shopping centres, Brent Cross Shopping Centre is just a short distance from Brent Cross Underground station. Frankly, if you've got a closer shopping centre, I can't see any reason why you'd want to fight your way round Brent Cross. It's generally very crowded, and especially so at weekends. The major stores are Fenwick (a department store), John Lewis and Marks & Spencer. They have a website at http://www.brentcross-london.com if you're still interested. - HAMPSTEAD Right, this is where it starts getting interesting. Hampstead is a lovely place, only slightly spoilt by the self-important folk who live here, and like to be seen to live here. In an effort to be noticed, they're liable to start yelling loudly into their mobile phones about unbelievably trivial things. Don't give them the satisfaction. Hampstead is a maze of winding streets, separated fr
om nearby Highgate by Hampstead Heath. Worth a visit in Hampstead is Church Row, probably London's finest example of Georgian architecture; Fenton House, a 17th-century house; and Burgh House, an early 18th-cenutry house. Hampstead Heath is also a lovely place to visit and picnic, even if it gets very crowded in Summer. It's also a lovely place to watch people flying kites. To the south-west corner of Hampstead Heath can be found Jack Straw's Castle pub, next to Whitestone Pond. Jack Straw's Castle takes its name from one of Wat Tyler's lieutenants in the 1381 Peasant's Revolt, rather than the current Home Secretary. Whitestone Pond is a popular place for people to sail model boats all year round. To the north side of Hampstead Heath can be found Kenwood House, a popular venue for outdoor classical music concerts in the Summer, which are well worth going to. - CAMDEN TOWN If there's one part of London which attracts unbelievable numbers of freaks and ne'er-do-wells, it's Camden. Why do you think I fit in there so well? The biggest draw for the freaks is Camden Market, which sells more garishly coloured clothing than you'll ever see anywhere else in the country. You want a T-shirt with flashing lights attached to the front? You can get one in Camden Market. You want a rubber cat-suit? You can get one in Camden Market. No matter how outlandish your clothing tastes, Camden Market will cater to your most bizarre whims. There are some pretty interesting shops along Camden High Street too, and if you're looking to get a tattoo or a bit of metal inserted in some part of your body where it's not meant to be, there are numerous shops willing to oblige. As for music venues, there are several, catering to pretty much any preference, from the Jazz Café on Camden Parkway, through the predominantly-indie Dingwalls and Camden Underground, to the heavier Electric Ballroom. Music lovers may
well want to make the pilgrimage to Blur's old watering hole, The Good Mixer, on Inverness Street, or to make disrespectful gestures to the nation on MTV by standing outside the station's new headquarters on Hawley Crescent when they're recording MTV Select. Interestingly, the headquarters of MTV used to be TV-am's headquarters, and the building still boasts a collection of eggcups on the roof! <br>There are also tons of pubs in Camden, including the inexplicably popular, cavernous 'The World's End' just opposite the tube station. It's also a short walk from Camden Town station to London Zoo within Regent's Park. Say hello to the otters for me, won't you? Oh, and just a quick word about Camden Underground station. It's destined to receive an extensive refurbishment beginning in late 2003 to cope with the unbelievable numbers of passengers visiting Camden. As if this weren't enough, at present the station is closed to incoming passengers on Sundays between 1pm and 4pm due to chronic overcrowding. - FINCHLEY CENTRAL Oh don't. Look, just don't. - EAST FINCHLEY Not much better. However, of minor interest to film buffs might be the Phoenix Cinema, the oldest serving cinema in London, dating back to 1910. It used to be called 'The East Finchley Picturedrome'. - KENTISH TOWN Just up the road from Kentish Town Underground station is the Kentish Town Forum, another of London's music venues. It's pretty big, and the acoustics aren't bad. I saw the Rollins Band here in 2000, and they were great. There's not much else to interest outsiders in Kentish Town, but there are some good restaurants dotted along Kentish Town Road, and some great places offering greasy English breakfasts throughout the day. - MORNINGTON CRESCENT One of London's most redundant stations, Mornington Crescent is an
easily walkable distance from either Euston or Camden Town Underground stations. It is possibly this redundancy that led to Mornington Crescent being closed for six years between 1992 and 1998, and led to it becoming the subject of a game in Radio 4 cult comedy series 'I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue'. The game's rules are very simple, even a small child can play – just remember that in weak positional play, it is vital to consolidate an already strong outer square. Oh, and in a straight rules game, it's inadmissable to transfer inversely, which is otherwise a powerful tactic. - EUSTON Ah, Euston. How do I hate you? Let me count the ways. Seriously, Euston is the nearest Underground station to University College London, which is why I come to use it every day. If you fancy it, you can go down to UCL's main building and gawp at the pickled remains of the university's founder, Jeremy Bentham. Founded in 1826, UCL was the third university to be founded in England, after Oxford and Cambridge, and because of its radical lack of respect for the then common religious restrictions in academia, it soon earned the nickname of 'the godless university on Gower Street'. Their website is at http://www.ucl.ac.uk Also near Euston station is the British Library's new building. It's worth a visit even for tourists, as it boasts three free exhibitions about book making and storage, along with some of the most impressive books from the library's collection. There's a small café in the expansive lobby of the library. Their website is at http://www.bl.uk - GOODGE STREET Near Goodge Street station can be found the Fitzroy Tavern, a popular drinking hole for writers and artists between the two World Wars, who dubbed this area of London Fitzrovia. A bar in the basement of the tavern contains pictures of former customers including Dylan Thomas and George Orwell. Also nearb
y is Pollock's Toy Museum. Benjamin Pollock was a famed toy maker in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who made a lot of stages and puppets for theatres, several of which are on display in the museum, along with a reconstruction of his workshop. From Goodge Street, it's only a short walk to go and look at the Telecom Tower, but don't get any funny ideas about going up it, it's not open to the public since it was taken over by British Telecom. - TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD Tottenham Court Road is positioned at a crossroads where four of London's most major shopping streets meet. It's an unbelievably crowded station at the best of times, and is even worse in rush hour. The staff often employ confusing and circuitous one-way systems, adding to the fun of a visit to Tottenham Court Road station, so it's not one to visit if you're in any kind of hurry. Tottenham Court Road Underground station also boasts some colourful and flamboyant mosaics by British contemporary artist Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, which you'll notice as you leave the station. To the North of Tottenham Court Road station is Tottenham Court Road itself. The road is probably best known for all the electrical and computer stores which line it. If you're prepared to haggle over prices, and have the better part of a day to waste comparing prices between stores along the street, you can get some real bargains along here. To the East of the station is New Oxford Street. As far as I'm concerned, the main shop along here is Forbidden Planet, a shop specialising in science fiction and fantasy merchandise, selling comics, novels, posters, and those tacky little TV character figurines that sad people like me get unhealthily excited about. Also along here are several camera shops. Also, just a few yards New Oxford Street, on Great Russell Street, is the British Museum, which, founded in 1753, is the oldest museum in t
he world, and consists of relics pilfered from all over the former British Empire. The Elgin Marbles are still on display here, as is the largest collection of mummies outside of Egypt. The new domed Great Court is incredibly impressive too, and well worth a visit. Admission to the British Museum is free, but a donation of about £2 is encouraged. Their website is at http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk To the South of Tottenham Court Road station is Charing Cross Road, along which are numerous bookshops all within spitting distance of each other. But don't try it, it's dirty, and someone might tell you off. The major bookshops are Blackwells, Waterstones, Borders and Foyles. Foyles is the largest bookshop in the world, measured by shelf space rather than floor area. A dull fact, but a true one, nevertheless. Proceeding down Charing Cross Road, you'll pass the Palace Theatre, currently home to 'Les Miserables' and some great pubs including 'The Spice of Life' and 'The Cambridge Arms'. If you keep going down the road, you'll also realise how close you are to Leicester Square Underground station, making you wonder why so many idiotic tourists don't bother to look at their maps before taking the tube for a 17-second long journey between the two stations.. To the West of Tottenham Court Road is Oxford Street, London's main shopping street. At this end of Oxford Street is the Virgin Megastore, and it's only a short walk along Oxford Street to HMV. To get to Selfridges or John Lewis, which are at the other end of Oxford Street, I strongly recommend taking the Central line to Oxford Circus or Bond Street, rather than trying to fight your way along Oxford Street – it's always unbearably crowded. Even though the Central line service is pretty crummy, it'll probably be faster in the long run! - LEICESTER SQUARE With its three exits, Leicester Square seems to be a real pu
zzle for tourists, which really mystifies me. All of the exits are clearly marked, so you wouldn't think it would be so hard. Ah well. If you thought Tottenham Court Road was crowded, you haven't seen Leicester Square. Not only does Leicester Square get more passengers, but its proximity to so many bars and clubs in the Soho and Covent Garden area ensures that many of its customers are unbelivably drunk, aggressive, argumentative and problematic. My sympathy always goes out to the long-suffering workers at Leicester Square Underground station, they have to deal with the worst of humanity. Still, despite this Leicester Square Underground station is ideally positioned for attraction-hungry tourists. Just a few yards away from the station is Leicester Square itself, centre of London's film industry, where most UK film premieres take place. The cinemas on the square itself, the Odeon West End, Odeon Mezzanine, Odeon Leicester Square, Empire and Warner Village West End, are all unbelievably expensive, especially if you're planning on attending an evening screening. Expect to shell out of the order of £9 for a ticket! Admittedly in the case of the Odeon Leicester Square, or screen one of the Empire, you'll almost certainly get your money's worth, as the screens are absolutely massive, but the Warner Village cannot possibly justify the cost of its tickets – none of its nine screens are any bigger than multiplexes elsewhere in the country, where ticket prices are more reasonable. From Leicester Square, you can walk further West towards Piccadilly Circus, passing the former Swiss Centre, now the unspeakably grim Sound Republic club, and the Trocadero centre (consisting for the most part of a mammoth video game arcade). Also near Leicester Square, just a few yards to the North of it, is Chinatown. There are some great Chinese restaurants here, and some unspeakably dire ones too. The Aroma restaurants are expensive, but
popular and highly recommended. Nearby Wong Kei's is cheap and cheerful, and boasts the dubious reputation of having the rudest waiters in London! Amongst the restaurants on Chinatown's Gerrard Street is Lee Ho Fook's, as celebrated in Warren Zevon's classic song 'Werewolves of London'. From Leicester Square Underground station, a short walk East will lead you into Covent Garden, and a short walk South will take you past the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery, and St. Martins-in-the-Fields Church, to Trafalgar Square. - CHARING CROSS Charing Cross Underground station is a sprawling mess, where the Northern line comes reasonably close to the Bakerloo line. The main exit from the Northern line takes you onto the Strand, with the Adelphi Theatre and the Savoy Hotel pretty close by. Charing Cross is also the nearest Underground station to Trafalgar Square, so if you want to go and see the dwindling numbers of pigeons, Nelson's column, and several statues of military heroes that virtually no-one has heard of nowadays, this is the station for you. This also means that Charing Cross is probably fractionally closer to the National Gallery than Leicester Square, but there's not a lot in it. From Trafalgar Square, you can head under Admiralty Arch and proceed along the Mall past the Institute of Contemporary Arts, along to Buckingham Palace, past St. James's Park. You could alternatively head down Whitehall, past the various government buildings, such as the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Treasury, and, of course, stand at the railings at the East end of Downing Street, and pretend that you could actually see the Prime Minister's House. At the end of Whitehall is Parliament Square, where you can see the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. - EMBANKMENT Putting the distance between Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road
to shame, Embankment is unbelievably close to Charing Cross station. The two are separated by the steep bar-lined Villiers Street. Exiting Embankment station on the Thames-side gives a great view out over the river, though unfortunately, it's a view of the concrete monstrosity that is the Royal Festival Hall. Walking there is made much easier by the nearby Hungerford Foot Bridge. Near the Festival Hall on the south bank of the river can be found the Hayward Gallery, the National Film Theatre and the National Theatre. The Museum of the Moving Image is nearby too, but is closed until 2003 for redevelopment. A short walk East along the north bank of the river takes you to Cleopatra's needle, which was presented to Britain by the Viceroy of Egypt in 1819, and erected alongside the river in 1878. The needle is flanked by two bronze sphinxes which were cast in 1882, and which show minor scarring due to bomb damage received during the Blitz. - WATERLOO Over on the South side of the river, Waterloo was somewhat amusingly selected as the London terminus for the rail connection to Europe, as a permanent reminder to French tourists of their country's defeat by England in 1815. The European rail terminus at Waterloo is very impressive, and easily accessible from both the mainline and Underground stations at Waterloo. Near Waterloo Underground station is London's only IMAX cinema, which boasts the largest cinema screen in Europe. It's also a short walk to the stylish riverside Gabriel's Wharf and the OXO Tower, both of which contain exclusive and expensive restaurants. - KING'S CROSS ST PANCRAS The underground station is located underneath the King's Cross mainline railway station. It's a pretty grim place at the best of times, and at night is a notorious area for prostitutes to ply their trade. However, kids may well want to make a pilgrimage out to the bleak suburban line platfo
rms, to see if they can find platform 9 3/4, from which Harry Potter takes the train to school. Also, rumour has it that Boadicea's body lies underneath platform 10, though this sounds suspiciously like bunkum to me. Probably the only other thing worth doing in the King's Cross area is to admire the architecture of St. Pancras. Although the building itself was originally constructed to be a hotel, the red-brick Gothic frontage of St. Pancras station is very impressive, and now serves as an office building. - OLD STREET Old Street Underground station, in London's East End, is very close to the remains of St. Luke's Church, which can be found a little way to the West along Old Street. There's not a great deal to see there, but it is one of the best examples of Nicholas Hawksmoor's church designs. Also, a short way to the South of Old Street station is Bunhill Fields, a small cemetery, originally designated as such back in 1665 after the Great Plague of London. Monuments can be found in the cemetery to artist William Blake, and authors Daniel Defoe and John Bunyan. - MOORGATE Moorgate station's just a stone's throw away from the Barbican Centre, a rabbit's warren of art exhibition spaces, cinemas, concert halls and theatrical stages. Some great concerts take place at the Barbican Centre, but if you've not been there before, and want to go to one, it'd be a good idea to leave plenty of time to find where the concert is actually going to take place in the complex! The Barbican Centre is also the London home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. - BANK / MONUMENT Bank Underground station is unsurprisingly very close to the Bank of England, which boasts a large museum why the bank was set up in the first place, and telling of how it came to be the country's central bank. Gold bars, and a Roman mosaic floor uncovered during recent reconstruction work of the bu
ilding, are on display here. Also nearby is the Royal Exchange, the heart of London's commerce, which is most decidedly NOT open to the public, so don't even think about it. The same goes for the Stock Exchange, which has been closed to the public since a terrorist bomb attempt in the late 1980s. Mansion House, the home of the Lord Mayor of London is opposite the Bank of England museum. I've never been round it, but apparently, the building is open to the public by appointment. Also nearby is The Monument, a monument (duh) designed by Christopher Wren to commemorate the 1666 Great Fire of London, which started a few metres away in Pudding Lane. There are 311 steps up the Monument to a viewing platform, and the monument is open to the public Monday to Friday. Bank Underground station is truly at the heart of the City of London, which basically means that after 6pm, you can more or less have the streets to yourself. - LONDON BRIDGE London Bridge is another very busy station, particularly during rush hour. The station is just a brief walk from the bridge itself, which offers a superb view out towards Tower Bridge. The present bridge, completed in 1972, replaced the one built in 1831, which was sold to an American who, legend has it, thought he was buying Tower Bridge. Walking West along the South bank of the Thames from Tower Bridge, you pass Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market (which has been on the site since 1276, and now sells fruit and vegetables), the Clink Prison Museum, the Anchor pub, Southwark Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe and the Tate Modern. It's a pleasant walk on a Summer's day, especially if you stop off at the many great pubs in this area of London en route. Just behind Borough Market, you also can find Park Street, the site of the house featured in 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels'. Walking South along Borough High Street from London Brid
ge underground station, you'll see a small passageway on the left leading to the George Inn, a 17th century coaching inn, and the only surviving example of a traditional galleried coaching inn in London. The inn is now owned by the National Trust, and is a pub and restaurant. It's a nice place to visit, but in the Summer, it gets rapidly filled up with tourists, and it can take a long time to be served at the pub's tiny bar. - OVAL Oval Underground station is near the Oval cricket ground, home of Surrey Cricket Club. A lot of international cricket matches take place here, and tickets for one day games, or the first four days of five day tests can be difficult to come by. However, it is often possible to queue to get in on the fifth day of a five-day test, and tickets are often available for county cricket games here. CONCLUSIONS The Northern Line is a swine to use on a daily basis, but it's certainly got a fascinating history, as the world's oldest Underground line, and there are certainly enough tourist attractions near the various stations on the line to keep tourists happy!
The northern line has often been referred to as ‘The misery line’ and it is not difficult to see why sometimes. I used to live in Clapham in south London and travelled on this line for 18 years before moving further out of London. Although there are new trains, which look cleaner, and brighter, there is still room for improvement in the service. A mere five-minute gap between trains in the rush hour can cause a heavy congestion where people are crammed on the train like cattle, and in this modern age it just seems a barbaric way to travel. I personally couldn’t, and still would not travel in these conditions and used to compensate for this by travelling three or four stops down the line so i could get on the train. Some of the stations leave a lot to be desired as well, a classic example is Kennington Station which for years, has had paint peeling from the walls and water dripping down some of the staircases, and I believe there are similar stations that have this problem, along with the occasional mice running along the tracks. Compared to some of the European countries, we need to improve quite a lot to our Tube system as a whole. One of the biggest problems we still face is the stuffy air conditioning we have to suffer on both the Northern line and the rest of the network, it is uncomfortable in the winter and even more so in the summer. Many other people and I use this for partly business purpose, to quickly travel across London as well as the people who use it to commute. Well I know safety comes first, but when are we going to see a Underground service to be proud of in Europe ?
Yes it's the Northern Line, with new trains that talk, but alas they still cannot pronounce Highgate, and get a tad bit confused on what station you're really at. Well apart from that, it's not bad, not bad at all. The service is good, not great yet. If your really lucky you could get one of the two funny train drivers who commentate through the speakers with their own little anecdotes. The new trains are clean, the air-conditioners are noisy, the open and close button does not work, but hey, we're Londoners we can cope(You spotted any of those tiny mice that scurry on the platforms yet) For anyone new to the Northern Line, please note if you get the via Bank service, you can cross a single platform at Euston to get to go on the Victoria line. Also note that Camden Town, does not let people enter the station on a Saturday I think 10am-4pm ish. (Cause it gets to crowded), but you can still leave the station. Under these circumstances, closest station is Kentish Town(just walk down kentish town road) If you are disabled Goodge Street has a lift, but you still have to get up a flight of stairs to get to them. I would always recommend always go on the first train, and change where necessary. Go in last carriage and your most likely to get a seat(you also get a better selection of discarded newspapers). I think that is about it. Of course never look at anyone, speak to anyone, and tourists, PLEASE, WAIT FOR PEOPLE TO LEAVE the train before getting on. If you miss the last train home and need to go somewhere on the Barnet branch get the N20 night bus, around Leicester Square it will take ageeeeees to get home, but eventually you will get there, you can even use the travelcard on it. Smile be happy Chalie V