Tag Archives: underground

Collecting for 2013 – High Barnet’s Station Garden

It’s not every station on the Underground network that has an award-winning garden complete with sculptures, hanging baskets, fruit trees and a pond!

Nevertheless this is exactly what staff have created in their spare time at High Barnet station, on the northern tip of the busy Northern line.

The driving force behind the gardening project consists of duty station manager Marc Jones, supervisor Darren Brown and customer service assistant Eric Alflatt, all keen and knowledgeable gardeners

Marc began the greening of High Barnet in a small way in 2007 with help from the group manager’s assistant Lisa Sainsbury. They started out by planting flowers on a small plot of ground, but soon became more adventurous.

“There was a large area of derelict land on some sloping ground by the side of the station which we decided to turn it into the main garden,” said Marc.

Other members of the station staff became involved and they all chipped in to help transform the bare site.

Using discarded used railway sleepers to help create terracing, the garden features lots of flowers, apple and pear trees, attractive hanging baskets, with large wooden sculptures donated by a local sculptor.

“We have planted lots of evergreens to keep the garden looking attractive all year round and put in various seasonal bedding plants,” said Marc. A small lower garden area features a pond.

The station receives a small annual gardening budget from London Underground, with the staff contributing in terms of buying plants.

We do all the work needed to maintain the garden in our spare time, either during meal breaks, staying late or on our days off,” said Darren.

High Barnet was one of the winners in the 2011 Underground in Bloom the Tube’s own annual gardening competition, coming third in the Hanging Basket category.

The station has also won quite a few other Underground in Bloom prizes over the years, plus picking up top awards in the Barnet in Bloom and London in Bloom competitions.

“We know from customer reaction that the colourful displays we have created make the station more welcoming and attractive,” said Marc. “We have had a great deal of positive customer feedback, with some regular passengers donating plants for us to use.”

In 2011 over 70 stations, depots and service control rooms took part in the Underground in Bloom competition.

Text and photos by Stephen Barry, Museum Friend

Collecting for 2013 – Angel station’s Thought for the Day

Staff at a busy London tube station who display humorous ‘Thought for the Day’ quotes have followed it up with a popular web site – and can boast of being featured on Japanese television!

It all began in 2011 when Customer Station Assistant (CSA) Ken Walters, who works at Angel Station on the Northern Line, heard about a suburban station where passengers dropping off their partners in the morning were banned from kissing them goodbye.

Apparently it was causing traffic holdups in the station car park,” said Ken. “I thought this was quite funny and wrote on our ticket hall whiteboard that ‘Kissing is allowed at this station’. As it seemed to make our customer smile, after talking to colleagues we decided to continue to put up regular light-hearted quotes. The aim is to get customers to stop and smile when they pass through the station, as they are often in a rush and feeling stressed.”

Helping Ken with his daily dose of ticket hall wisdom are fellow CSA’s Devika Webb and Rathees Kadadcham.

One of the first jobs for whoever’s on duty to open up the station to passengers each day at 5.40am is to put up that day’s thought.

“We sometimes get them off the internet or we make them up,” said Devika. “Regular station users are so used to seeing them now that they tell us off if we don’t change them every day.”

The jokey quotes also appeal to schoolchildren as well as adults and many travellers, including tourists, take photographs of the day’s offering.

The Angel trio has put up a comment box in the ticket hall where people can leave their own quote suggestions, which usually go on display within a couple of days.

“Lots of people who don’t even use the station come in off the street just to see what’s on the board that day,” said Ken.

Rathees is the trio’s computer wizard who knows his way around the internet.

He has set up the ‘Thoughts of Angel’ web site (www.thoughtsofangel.com), billed as ‘your daily dose of fun, laughter and thought’.  It features images of each day’s message and is seen by around 300 people daily.

Every image is archived and visitors to the site can vote for the message they like best. The site is linked to Twitter and Facebook, increasing its exposure, and several hundred people subscribe to its email newsletter.

The site has been picked up by blogger Annie Mole and is featured on her ‘Going Underground’ blog, which takes an irreverent look at aspects of the London Underground network. It also features on the Time Out and the islingtonpeople blogs.

“Annie, who lives locally, takes a picture of the ‘thought’ every day and downloads it onto her site, which has a link back to our site,” said Rathees.

Internet exposure led to the station being featured on Japanese television.

“NHK, their national broadcaster, found out about our web site and sent a crew to interview us and also some customers,” said Rathees. “The item featured in a documentary they made about the world’s underground systems, where we are described as the ‘human face of the underground’.”

“Feedback from passengers about the whiteboard ‘thoughts’ has been very good,” said Ken.  “Many of them stop to thank us for brightening up their day, and we now get presents at Christmas. What I think it has done is to make us more human, not just uniformed, faceless staff they rush past every day. I’m really glad I started with the quotes. It’s so nice to be able to put a smile on people’s faces.”

Text and photographs by Stephen Barry, Museum Friend

Collecting for 2013 – Underground Staff Initiatives Project

For most Underground passengers, the experience of your local station may be little more than entering, touching in your Oyster card, descending to the platform and then boarding your train. You may pay little attention to the station around you and not know very much about the staff who work there.

Some Underground staff however have decided to try and buck this trend by making their station environment more interesting and enjoyable for their passengers, colleagues and themselves. Whether it be making more personal announcements, introducing a Thought for the Day scheme, or brightening up the physical environment with a station garden or platform flower bed, there are some amazing things taking place across the network which the Museum wanted to collect.

Museum Friend Stephen Barry, a retired journalist, has been on a mission to track down these amazing initiatives over the past few months. Stephen visited stations across the city, speaking to staff, meeting passengers and taking photos of the great projects which are taking place. These stories and images are to be shared on this blog  as a series, starting with Angel station’s Thought of the Day.

Huge thanks to Stephen for his hard work. We hope you enjoy them!

Collecting for 2013 – Since 7/7

As you will know from the other Collecting for 2013 posts, one of the main aims of this collaborative collecting project linked to the Underground’s 150th anniversary is to explore what the Underground means to the people of London, and how these passengers experience the Tube.

‘Since 7/7’ became one of these collecting projects. Exploring the impact that the terrorist attacks of July 7th 2005 has had on people’s association and experience of the Underground is a challenging concept, but one which the Museum wanted to begin to touch on. Working in partnership with Olivia Bellas at The Original Ranch and photographer Francisco Serrano, a sensitive and open project was launched in the summer of 2011.

Using social media, Olivia asked people to consider the following:

What is your security blanket?

We all have something we carry in our wallet, the song we play, that feeling or act that makes it all the more confortable. Since 7/7, travel on the London Underground might feel different to you. What is your security blanket?

Responses were varied and thought provoking. Francisco selected seven of these responses and transformed them into photographs, shot on location at London Transport Museum’s Depot in Acton Town. The seven images can be seen here.

Has your experience of the Underground changed since 7/7?

Collecting for 2013 – Unofficial Underground

You see it all over the city – key rings, tea towels, bookmarks, piggy banks, pens, t-shirts, postcards. You name it, there’s a piece of merchandise out there with the Underground plastered all over it. For a number of years, Transport for London has been cracking down on how the famous roundel, font and colours are used on souvenirs and signage. But if you dig deep enough you will still find all sorts of bits and pieces that have not been licenced.

As part of the Museum’s curatorial team Christmas day out, I set my colleagues the task of collecting as much of this unofficial Underground material as they could. In an ‘Apprentice’ style challenge, two teams were given 3 hours and £50 each, and were sent out onto the tourist streets of London to collect what they could. The results were pretty amazing – dodgy pink i-Phone covers, dubious key rings, odd postcards and even a risqué calling card or two!

For the Museum’s LU150 celebrations, we are going to accession some of these finds into the collection as a record of how the roundel is used around the anniversary in 2013. And if any of you see anything you think we should collect, please let us know – maybe take a photo and post it up on here. The weirder the better!

Collecting for 2013 – ‘What Song are you Listening to?’ Video on YouTube

Earlier this year, a group of us from London Transport Museum hit the Underground to find out what songs passengers were listening to. The brilliant edited video is now available on the Museum’s YouTube channel – enjoy!

What songs were you listening to today when you travelled by Tube? How does your music affect your journey?

Collecting for 2013 – My Line Documentaries

What’s your favourite Underground line? Is it the one closest to where you live, or the line which takes you to the places you love in the capital? Do you like a line that’s the fastest, coolest or quietest?

For our 150th anniversary celebrations of the Underground, the Museum is working in partnership with My Street films and Doc in a Day at UCL to explore what five different Underground lines mean to five community groups located nearby. Starting in Acton and the Piccadilly Line, a group of people from the United Anglo Caribbean Society have been exploring what makes the Piccadilly Line unique and what experiences they have had of using the line. From a lady who is on her first visit to London and thus only used the Tube for the first time 3 weeks ago, to elders who have been using the Underground for 50 years, their stories and experiences are being captured on camera.

These ‘My Line’ documentaries are being produced, directed, filmed and edited by the groups involved, giving the participants the opportunity to learn new skills whilst they share their stories. Over the next couple of months we’ll also be venturing to Harrow for the Metropolitan Line, Pimlico for the Victoria Line, Old Street for the Northern Line and Richmond for the District Line, with tales and adventures from each being showcased on here.

What’s your line? Share your stories of what makes your Underground line the best.