Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gateway to the further South

Few of the stations that stud the Northern line as it snakes through south London have as much stately grandeur as Colliers Wood.
When the sun catches the entrance, the building feels more of a palace than a portal. It gives off a sort of calming authority, even a coolness, which was certainly welcome on the baking hot day I took these photographs.
Those unfussy yet imposing columns that glide airily up each side of the main window are especially lovely. I like how their width is matched perfectly by the distance between each of the vertical blue lines. And look how the roundel fits so snugly in the middle. You can’t beat symmetry when it’s done properly.
Then there’s the way the building is positioned on the corner of the street, its sides slanting (never curving – heavens no!) gently inwards, guiding you almost subliminally towards the entrance. Plus you have those two outer, smaller wings of the station, whose reduced stature ensures that nothing jostles for attention with the regal facade, especially when viewed from a distance.
Colliers Wood is one of Charles Holden’s earliest efforts for the Underground, dating from 1926, but it scrubs up well compared with his later masterpieces at Arnos Grove and Gants Hill. That’s as long as people remember to give it a scrub, of course.
And let’s hear it for not one, not two, but three splendidly gleaming roundels, a real help for anyone trying to spy the station from afar, but a real treat for anyone giving it the once over up close.
That’s my kind of red, white and blue.
Possibly the pudding is over egged above, but now you know why the Colliers Tup boozer opposite has been renamed the Charles Holden.

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