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A Straight Line Walk Across London
by Paul K Lyons
76 - Bounds Green - a 300 easting coincidence and a bomb incident
Durnsford Road ends at Bounds Green. This is a restless junction, transversed by Bounds Green Road (the A109), and crowded with small retail outlets, many of them eating places. There are separate restaurants for pizzas, kebabs, chicken and ribs, oriental noodles, fish and chips, and sandwiches, but - oddly - there's no traditional cafe where I can sit down and drink a cup of tea.
An advertising billboard displays the following poster: 'Haringey has had enough. Who's next? Not another drop. Killing must stop. Campaign to stop gun crime in Haringey.' This poster is half hidden by a set of recycling bins. But a film poster, not five yards away, is not. It's for a Takeshi Kitano movie called 'Zatoichi'. The poster shows a silver-haired man dressed in black, sweeping a sword which leaves a trail of blood in the form of Japanese symbols/letters. Blind Zatoichi makes his living by gambling and giving massages, the film's publicity states, but behind his humble facade is a master swordsman gifted with lightning-fast draw and strokes of breathtaking precision.
Across the road, standing right on the 300 easting, are the Bounds Green primary and infant schools. The comedy script writer and radio/tv performer, Barry Took, was educated for a while at the primary school during the 1930s. A good amateur boxer named Stanley Bloxham, who once fought at the Albert Hall, was a pupil in the 1950s when the building was still a secondary school. Took died in 2002, and Bloxham in 2001.
The most obvious focus of Bounds Green, however, is the Piccadilly Line underground station. Along with Clapham North and Leicester Square, Bounds Green makes a triplet of tube stations situated exactly on the 300 easting. Coincidentally, Clapham North is a Northern Line station and serves no other tube line, Bounds Green is a Piccadilly Line station and serves no other line, and Leicester Square lies on both lines but no other!
Although the Piccadilly Line opened in 1906, at the time it only ran as far north as Finsbury Park. In the 1930s it was extended with eight further stations, including Bounds Green and Arnos Grove, and ending at Cockfosters. A series of of these stations (and others elsewhere) were designed by Charles Holden (the architect of University of London's Senate House) in a style not far removed from that of Hornsey Town Hall - modernistic and functional. Bounds Green was built with a parade of shops, but, evidently, these have proved insufficient since the round booking hall is now fully fitted out with retail kiosks. Today, the Piccadilly Line covers 44 miles and serves 52 stations (including Heathrow Airport).
Thanks to Hornsey Historical Society and its estimable publications,
I'm able to pause, as it were, at Bounds Green to remember a doctor called
Malcolm Manson. In October 1940 he was working at a cottage hospital (no
longer extant) nearby the station. On the night of 13 October, a lone German
aircraft dropped a bomb, missing the station by yards and completely destroying
two Georgian houses (Cedar and Cranbrook) next door. But the bomb also penetrated
through the ground to a platform tunnel underneath. A number of people sheltering
there, including Belgian refugees, were buried in the rubble. Manson organised
a rescue team, treating the wounded as they were extricated. As more of
the tunnel continued to cave in, Manson refused to give up, and continued
trying to shift the rubble. Nineteen people died as a result of that bomb,
several of them the Belgians. There seems little doubt the death toll would
have been higher but for Manson's bravery. He himself spent three weeks
in hospital recovering from the injuries sustained during the rescue. The
tube line was closed for two months. In February 1941, Manson was awarded
the George Medal for bravery.
A Straight Line Walk Across London - along the 300 easting
by Paul K Lyons
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