As anyone looking to properly understand London’s transport needs and network knows, context, background and best-practice are important. As readers might imagine, behind the scenes here at LR Towers we thus spend a lot of time sharing links and reading around the subjects we cover here.

We also occasionally share links containing good information about transport topics that we know we just don’t have time to cover. We also all, as authors, occasionally write elsewhere on this or tangentially related subjects.

This week’s reading list is below. If you’ve got something you feel we should read or include in a future list, don’t forget to email us at [email protected].

And finally a Friday listen:

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There are 39 comments on this article
  1. MR Ed says:

    Being a fan of both art deco and mountains, I was excited by the Buffalo headline, until I realised it was a typo.

  2. Fandroid says:

    Buffalo Central Terminal is certainly worth a look. Considering the great success of restoration of old railway buildings and maximising commercial use here and in Europe, any railway/architecture buff must keep fingers crossed that the same can happen in the USA’s ‘rust belt’.

  3. Fandroid says:

    The Schabas interview lacks depth, (it plugs a book!) but it does have a nice quote, apparently from the Mayor of Bogota –
    “the successful city isn’t a place where the poor people have cars, but it’s a city where the rich people use public transit”

  4. quinlet says:

    The Americans have actually done marvellous things with their rail terminals in cities such as Washington and Los Angeles, where architectural gems have been rejuvenated and they have even maintained rail services within them (albeit that the trains in Washington’s Union Station are in a bit of a more modern annexe). I suspect that Buffalo’s problems stem as much from the city’s overall economic problems rather than anything particular associated with the old station itself.

  5. Greg Tingey says:

    I already said that. but it got deleted – I have no idea why!
    OTOH, there is a well-known pic of one of the deep tube lines, just after opening, showing this, with passengers ranging from workmen in “roughs” to boater-hatted up to silk top hats & full suiting.
    The convenience simply erased the other boundaries, even in 190x – I think it was the Central London Railway, but don’t quote me.

  6. @quinlet

    Buffalo as a city has been declining since the 1950s. However the problem with its railway station is that it is not downtown, but 2 miles from downtown, at the end of a streetcar line. The station opened in 1929, just before the Great Depression. At the time the city’s population was 555,000, but the station was designed for an anticipated population boom of 1.5 million (however the city peaked at only 580,132 in 1950). In the 1920’s Buffalo reached its peak of industrial might and was a vital link in rail and Great Lakes shipping, being second only to Chicago in rail terms. Buffalo itself has many stunning Art Deco buildings downtown, and a light rail line along Main Street, that ironically is tunnelled in the suburbs.

    Since the station closed in 1979 it’s been allowed to decay. Even though I live only 1.5 hours from it, I’ve never visited it, although I’ve seen it from Amtrak trains passing by. Before the current tours were set up, visiting meant chancing undesirables in the station.

    If anyone would like to visit, I can organise an (intercontinental) LR trip. LBM

  7. @Fandroid

    I included the Schabas article (light indeed, and self-promoting) as I knew he’d been involved in London’s transport planning for many years (I know only of his involvement with the Jubilee Line Extension to Canary Wharf and beyond however), so this was an update on what he has been doing lately.

  8. Greg Tingey says:

    Art Deco in railway architecture.
    Very little of it in the UK.
    The best example I can think of is the Midland Hotel in Morecambe.
    The GW’s 1930’s rebuilds are not really Art Deco, are they?

    Can anyone think of / show images of any others?

  9. Graham H says:

    @Greg T – Woking*, perhaps (less striking than Surbiton). Derby (postwar debased Deco), ?some of the stations on the Chessington branch, + some of the stations on the Central Line postwar extension(I noticed an LNER “almond eye” at ?Leytonstone. Not a lot in total.

    * There’s quite a lot of the Southern Railways’s concrete works platform edges, TPW huts, and similar about.

  10. Twopenny Tube says:
    (and its neighbours though not in the same league as Surbiton)

  11. ChrisMitch says:

    Wimbledon and Richmond ticket halls look fairly Art Deco to me, not sure if they strictly meet the criteria though.

  12. Greg Tingey says:

    I really should have remembered Surbiton – as I use it to get to “The Antelope” – & it appeared on a fairly recent Kingston Beer Festival T-shirt & poster, too!

  13. TomP says:

    @Greg East Finchley? The archer statue is particularly nice.

  14. Greg Tingey says:

    Tom P
    I was thinking of the “main line / Big 4” companies, actually.
    Holden’s work on the UndergrounD is very well-known. One reason it stood out so much ( And still does ) is that virtually no-one else was doing anything like it ( much )

  15. Graham H says:

    @GregT – at least not in the UK – some of the Berlin S-bahn stations are distinctly Holdenesque

  16. Lee Valley Liner says:

    Some surprising art deco gems on obscure parts of the national network:

    Girvan, on the Ayr to Stranraer line (according to the local Community Rail Partnership, ‘Scotland’s only art deco station’):

    Bishopstone, on the Lewes to Seaford line (apparently built to serve an interwar housing area that never happened, and to link back to London apparently loosely based on/inspired by Arnos Grove)

  17. MR Ed says:

    I like the sound of a trip to Buffalo, but it might not be realistic for those of us in the old country.

    It sounds like a tour of art deco stations of south(-west) London would be feasible. Some of the SWT network plus Holden stations on the Northern Line.

  18. @Mr Ed

    I agree that Buffalo NY is a wee distance from the old country, but if any LR readers from North America are interested, I can organise a meet up in Buffalo. The Railway Study Association has occasional group trips to North America – one a few years ago saw more behind the scenes and railyard tours in a week than I’ve seen in my 25 years as a transit and rail enthusiast in Toronto.

  19. MR Ed says:


    I am actually going to be in Montreal for a public transport conference in May, but I suspect that’s still quite far (by European standards at least).

  20. @Mr Ed

    Montreal to Toronto is 5 hours by (non-high speed) train, thence another 1.5-2 hours to Buffalo (by car – the daily Amtrak train to NYC is too unreliable and slow).

  21. Philip says:

    @Graham H

    The Berlin U-Bahn stations by Alfred Grenander were an admitted influence on Holden. Find a picture of the street-level building at Krumme Lanke for the most glaring example.

  22. Anonymous says:

    For art deco, albeit of a very simple plain post war type, try Longbenton on the Tyne & Wear metro. You will have to ignore the “modernisation” foisted upon it though.

  23. Jim McGrath says:

    @Greg Tingey

    The Southern Railway Chief Architect James Robb Scott designed a fair number of Art Deco stations. See for some more information.

  24. Jon B says:

    Leamington Spa station is a good example of Art Deco, albeit a rebuild late in the 1930s.

  25. Graham H says:

    All -many thanks for the various links -extremely interesting.

    @JimMcGrath -the small back entrance building at Guildford looks as if it is also by Robb Scott; I suspect that there may be other minor examples like this besides those listed in the Wiki article

  26. Long Branch Mike says:

    Regarding Madrid, I’ve admired the big Metro construction push they did over the last 20 years, and wonder how they managed to afford it. Apparently if they can close their main drag to cars, Metro (and Cercanias, their commuter train service) capacity must be much higher than previously to handle the drivers cum riders.

    I also wonder if the massive Metro construction had anything to do with the Spanish economic crisis of a few years back.

  27. Man of Kent says:

    I think it is Hoylake on the West Kirby branch which was rebuilt by the LMS as one of its few examples of art deco influence.
    One of the nearby stations also has Chessington-style cantilevered canopies, but the main building is much mutilated.

  28. Londoner in Scotland says:

    Probably the most surprising art deco station is Dijon SNCF, which looks as if it has escaped from the Piccadilly line.


  29. Greg Tingey says:

    Jim McG
    And, as we both know, the ex-SR signalboxes were strongly Art Deco in their external styling ….

  30. Guano says:

    Buffalo is well worth a visit, just to see what former industrial cities in the USA have become. There is a small Central Business District with skyscraper office blocks: there are some low density outer suburbs; and in-between is a wasteland of overgrown green space with occasional abandoned houses.

    I travelled from Toronto to Chicago via Buffalo. I got VIA rail to Niagara Falls, walked through the Canadian town, did some sight-seeing, walked through the border controls, did some sight-seeing and got the bus to Buffalo from the town on the USA side of the border. There were then a few hours to kill before catching AMTRAK at the present station (in the outer suburbs) in the middle of the night. The person at the information desk in the bus depot said that there was nothing to see in the CBD, and certainly not in the evening, so advised getting a bus to a shopping mall in the outer suburbs, killing time there, and then get a taxi to the station when the mall closes.

    And this is the strategy I followed, passing the time chatting to Americans (mainly about their struggles with the pre-ACA health system). The bus ride through the dead zone between the CBD and the outer suburbs is quite something.

  31. Mark says:

    Does anyone know exactly what’s the issue with Embankment pier?

    There’s very little information available online about what’s actually happened and how long the closure is for – Thames Clippers is just replying to tweets asking for specifics with “closed until further notice”

  32. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Mark – the news has reported that an unexploded WW2 bomb has been found. There were closures on the Embankment, Waterloo and Westminster Bridges earlier. Now just the Embankment is partly closed. Clearly depends on how quickly the bomb disposal people can do their stuff before normal service is resumed.

  33. Graham Feakins says:

    @WW – Unless I missed it, I find it interesting that Hungerford (railway) Bridge, the one serving Charing Cross station and located between Westminster and Waterloo bridges, wasn’t closed. At least on the Southeastern site, I found no reference to Charing Cross being shut.

  34. Mark says:

    @WW I think the two are unconnected.

    The WWII UXO [unexploded ordnance. LBM] was dredged up last week (Thursday)? Embankment Pier has been closed since January 5th.

  35. ngh says:

    Re Mark,

    As a thought the western section of Embankment Pier is very shallow at low tide so possibly dedging to make it deeper and found the UXO in the river bed???

  36. @Mark, ngh

    The Port of London Authority (PLA) issued a Notice to Mariners on 11 January 2017 that “On or about the 13th January 2017, for a period of about 3 days, contractors will be undertaking urgent works at Embankment Pier to remove the brow pontoon on the inner side of the pier.” – but the Notice did not specify why.

  37. JA says:

    Other Art Deco, or at least decoish railway buildings and structures;

    The listed 1912 footbridge at Kew Gardens, built using a reinforced concrete system developed by the French engineer François Hennebique, could perhaps be considered a very early Art Deco structure, particularly with regards to some of the detailing. Certainly some of its qualities prefigure the later reinforced concrete work on the Southern, although it was built by the local corporation rather than the LSWR.

    The Northern Concourse at Leeds station, built jointly by the LMS and LNER in the late 1930s is certainly Art Deco and Blackpool North concourse ticks some of the boxes for being considered ‘Streamline Moderne’. As already mentioned, on the Wirral, as well as Hoylake, the nearby stations of Leasowe and Manor Road have decoish elements, also the contemporaneous concrete canopies at New Brighton and West Kirby are still extant. Some of the early 20s/30s stations on the outer reaches of the District and Bakerloo were built by the LMS rather than the Underground companies/LPTB. Apsley station is also a 1930s LMS construction where I believe the station building survives, but the other canopies/shelters have been demolished. There are lots of good photographs of the above, including Apsley under construction in A Pictorial Record of LMS Architecture by V.R Anderson and G.K Fox.

    Southern Region signal boxes have already been mentioned, but as well as the standard “Odeon” type (Richmond/Wimbledon etc) the Waterloo signal box probably deserves a separate mention simply for its scale, as well as its quite distinct style.

    If you can regard The Imperial Airways Empire Terminal at Victoria as a railway building, it did provide access to one of the platforms, then it is probably one of the finest examples.

    For a late 20th century interpretation of Charles Holden’s work there is the ticket office at Redhill by John McAslan. His first railway work, and not quite as impressive as the western concourse at Kings Cross, but visit whilst you can as it seems to be on the Network Rail hit list.

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