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A Straight Line Walk Across London
by Paul K Lyons
31 - Elevators, new rolling stock for the Misery Line, and Clapham drinkers
Bedford Road leads to Clapham North Underground Station. Before then, though, I pass a large recently-built builders yard with signs beckoning passers-by to 'visit our new first floor bathroom and mosaic gallery'. Kone, which says it is one of the leading companies in the global elevator and escalator market, operates from a non-descript office block on the west side of Bedford Road. The organisation has more than 150 subsidiaries worldwide and is led by a Finnish parent company, founded in 1910. By the side of the Kone building there is an entrance to a private car park which runs along side the north of a railway bridge with arches. Here can be found an entrance to a deep underground shelter, one of seven built during World War Two at Northern Line underground stations. Only four, including Clapham North, were opened to the public as air raid shelters (each one with thousands of bunks) while the others were reserved for government activities. Some of these shelters have since found commercial uses, but not Clapham North.
The Northern Line has its roots in two separate railways: the City and South London Railway (the world's first electric deep-level tube line) which opened in 1890, and the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway, which opened in 1907. Between 1922 and 1926, substantial changes were made and extensions built (including to Morden through South Clapham in 1926) and the two lines were linked through Camden Town. In 1937, the line was renamed the Northern Line and extended between Archway and East Finchley in 1939, over existing suburban railway tracks to High Barnet in 1940, and to Mill Hill East in 1941. Fifty years later, in November 1994, the government put in motion a major plan to revitalise what, many commuters were calling, the Misery Line. As a result, the line now has 106 relatively modern trains, and many of the stations are being given refits.
Three pubs arc around the junction of Bedford Road, Clapham Road and Clapham High Street all within easy staggering distance of the underground station on the corner. The canary and lemon yellow Falcon on Bedford Road is thought by one customer to be 'the best pub in Clapham', but another thinks one needs 'a double-barrelled surname' to drink there. The Bedford Arms, with dark red brick and blue paintwork on the corner of Clapham and Landor Roads, has 'quality funky house mashed up with some fantastic old school flavas'. The Royal Oak on Clapham High Street 'does the best Sunday roasts in the area' according to one client, but another warns to 'watch the prices'. Thanks to beerintheevening.com for the snappy comments (although the website suggests they should not be taken too seriously). For a more sophisticated evening, one could try Arch 635, which sits coolly behind the station in one of the railway arches alongside a more traditional cafe (Little Kitchen) and a couple of garages. The four 'friendly locals' who own the place say it is 'a welcome relief from the uniformity of Clapham's chain bars'.
My route follows a kind of s-shape curl, around Clapham North Underground Station (which, pleasingly for me, is situated exactly on 300 easting) and into Gauden Road, past more railway arches, and a long low flat warehouse/office building, painted with two tones of blue, called Blue Jay Works. This houses both 'Balance - Performance Physiotherapy' and The Management Centre. The latter refers to itself as '=mc' and says it is 'the UK's leading training and consultancy company working exclusively with not-for-profit organisations worldwide'. It does boast a large number of well-known charities and agencies among its clients.
Timber Mill Lane leads off Gauden Lane (just opposite Blue Jay Works)
along the side of the railway line, where once stood the Clapham Goods Yard.
Interestingly, further along, there is, in fact, a timber company here -
T. Brewer & Co. Ltd - which has been providing timber and joinery products
since 1888, although not from these premises. Between Brewers and the junction
with Gauden Road, a large plot is up for development. Thirty five years
ago, the Council refused planning permission for residential units to be
built on it, and instead granted approval for a heat exchanger station in
1967, and, in 1985, for a builder's yard. The builder's business has now
closed (moved to Bedford Road?) and, once again, a planning application
has been made to build flats (270 of them). However, once again, the Council
has rejected the proposal, advising that the site should continue to provide
employment rather than homes.
A Straight Line Walk Across London - along the 300 easting
by Paul K Lyons
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