Tag Archives: architecture

Archive Architecture: Enfield West (now Oakwood)

I’ve dug out a few photos from the London Transport Museum archives so we can have a tour of Enfield West (now Oakwood) Underground station on the Southgate extension of the Piccadilly line, in 1933 – at the time of opening.

We have taken the train today, and we start our architectural tour on the platforms just as our train departs. The station was designed by Charles Holden and C H James in 1933, and our train is quite new too. Concrete shelters for the platforms are supported by concrete pillars, and wooden bench seating has been incorporated into the pillars supporting the shelter.

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Screens shelter the ends of the benches and a poster has been incorporated on the side of the nearest one. The lighting and a clock are attached to the ceiling of the shelters. Photographed by Topical Press, Apr 1933

Looking further down the platforms, now we see:

View of the end of the platform showing a combined station name roundel, lamppost and poster panels, a signal (no K. 10) and the track and surrounding countryside. Photographed by Topical Press, Jul 1934

Those integrated lamp-posts and poster display boards were quite extraordinary, and similar ones were found throughout the Southgate extension. There were a couple of variants.

View along the platform from the edge of the Northbound side beyond the concrete canopy, with a stationary train at the Southbound side. The station building is in the background, whilst one of the combined lamppost, station name roundel sign and poster sites panel is in the foreground. The platform is clean and empty, with one waiting passenger visible in the background. Photographed by Topical Press, 10 Apr 1933.

The platform panels aren’t the only minutiae of note, though.

Platform seat, Southgate Urban District Council (UDC) coat-of-arms, and partially obscured station name roundel at Enfield West (Oakwood) (now Oakwood) station, Piccadilly line. In the background is a poster advertising Oxo. The Southgate UDC coat -of-arms bears the motto “Ex Glande Quercus”. Photographed by Topical Press, Aug 1934

Upstairs, the booking hall is glorious in both day…

View of the booking hall. View shows the interior of the high box type structure designed by Charles Holden and C H James. Brick building with concrete roof. Full height steel windows are prominent; note roundel incorporated into window on right. A passimeter stands in the middle of the concourse; two automatic ticket machines can be seen in rear view next to the passimeter. A tobacconist’s is situated on the right of the shot. Photographed by Topical Press, 23 Mar 1933

But particularly at night…

Night shot of booking hall showing clearly box-like structure, with brick walls, full height windows, and concrete coffered ceiling. A passenger is purchasing a ticket from the clerk in an illuminated passimeter. Photographed by Topical Press, 28 Apr 1933

Moving out towards the street, we look back:

A tobacconist’s shop is situated beside entrance, foreground left. A passimeter and two automatic ticket machines can be seen on the concourse. Photographed by Topical Press, 23 Mar 1933
Enfield West station on the Piccadilly Line. (now known as Oakwood). Shelter, mast sign and light fittings. Photographed by Topical Press, May 1933

That light tower was quite something: Holden did like light fittings integrated with other things.

Closeup of Enfield West station on the Piccadilly Line. (now known as Oakwood) shelter and mast sign. Photographed by Topical Press, May 1933

And bringing us right up to date, you’ll be pleased to know that not only is Oakwood station still very well preserved, but that mast sign with light tower is too.

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Refurbished seat and station sign with lamps. The original sign had the actual name of the station, but was replaced a few years ago with this standard Underground sign. The edge of the Oakwood Station building can be seen on the right. Pic by Christine Matthews on Wikipedia, reproduced under Creative Commons best practice.

Further reading and image link for Wikipedia.

Thanks for coming on this archive tour: I’ll dig out another one soon!

Tim Dunn

Semi Detached Holden?

London’s transport heritage isn’t just about the vehicles; there is also a lot of very important legacies in the network infrastructure. Perhaps one of the better known parts is the architectural work of Charles Holden. I thought I knew it – until I was lucky enough to join the trial run of a new walking tour that the Museum offered to the public as part of the London Festival of Architecture summer programme, which ran throughout June.

Ten of us met at Oakwood station, at the outer reaches of the Piccadilly Line, including our guide for the tour, David Burnell, a long standing Friend of the museum and, more recently, volunteer. David started us off with a knowledgeable discourse on the history of the roots of Holden’s involvement in Underground architecture and the styles that influenced him. Next was a very informative and discerning explanation of the result, using both the interior and exterior of Oakwood to demonstrate the story.

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What did I learn? Well, art deco isn’t a type of architecture; it’s the design features. The architectural style is generally described as ‘British Modernism’.  And Holden only designed one half of his stations, the street level elements. The rail level design was the responsibility of Stanley Heaps, London Transport’s in house architect. They certainly gel well.

From Oakwood we caught a Piccadilly Line train one stop south to Southfields station, another Holden masterpiece, to my eye reminiscent of something from a Buck Rogers comic strip. Under David’s expert eye we also took a 15 minute walking detour via a fine selection of Edwardian suburbia.

Back at Southfield, we again took a train to Arnos Grove, the third in our trio of Holden’s, featuring a rectangular street building as at Oakwood. David again gave us an excellent overview of the main features of the building.

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Ever a glutton for punishment, I stayed on for the optional one hour walk through Arnos Park to Abbotshall Avenue, to see a fine row of 1930s Modernism houses, not to mention a detour to see the Arnos Park viaduct of the Piccadilly Line, an imposing brick edifice.

Dave Olney, Volunteer