Friday 1 December 2017

To the trains!

This rather nice sign with its guiding manicule is in Stepney Green underground station, directing passengers down the stairs to the platforms. It has been carefully painted around and preserved, 

It is a little mysterious. Since it is part-way down the staircase, and there is no other direction to go unless you turn around and retrace your steps upwards, why was it needed? Perhaps just to reassure the nervous traveller that they are on the right track. Or right stairs. 

Stepney Green station opened in 1902. At that time, the Underground was not a single entity, but an assortment of lines and services run by competing companies. Since adding new capacity in London was expensive, given the compensation which had to be paid to the densely-packed properties disrupted by construction, some of these companies looked to extend services outwards. In that spirit, the District Line and London, Tilbury and Southend Railway were partners in developing the Whitechapel and Bow Railway, linking the District Line at Whitechapel to the Southend Line at Bow Road. Stepney Green was an intermediate stop, as was Mile End. 

The line was fully absorbed into London Underground in 1950. The Whitechapel and Bow Railway is largely forgotten but a few reminders, including this sign and other heritage features, remain at the station. 


Ralph Hancock said...

That's a fine screen with delicate Tuscan columns masking a boring square pier.

As for the notice, it's on a new staircase. Do you think the original staircase followed a different path, on which the sign was necessary?

CarolineLD said...

Maybe, but I don't think the layout has changed that much. I suspect it was just there to reassure, and out of a general enthusiasm for plenty of signage.