Manor House Tube station had an open day today (16th March 2013) to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the completion of the Piccadilly line’s extension into North London from Finsbury Park to Cockfosters. Manor House is the next station past Finsbury Park along this stretch of the Underground line and was first opened on 19th September 1932. Although it has been renovated and updated over the years, it still retains a number of original and beautiful features which thankfully the station has preserved. One stunning detail is the series of solid brass Japanesque ventilation covers found on both the west and eastbound platforms, commissioned by Frank Pick in 1922 and designed by Harold Stabler. Manor House is the only station along the line that has all these vent covers still in place.
Charles Holden designed Manor House Tube station as literally an underground station: even to this day there are no significant structures to the station at street level, only subway style entrances. Holden described it as an “experiment in streamlined planning”, the original design consisting of nine street level entrances and a large booking hall.
Drawings dating back to the 1940s of the original layout are still on display today in a disused control room at the station.
The open day tour brought visitors down inside the tunnels where we were able to see trains thunder by as they came in and out of the station. It was windy, dusty and noisy but being a daily commuter on the Piccadilly line it was fascinating to actually stand inside the tunnel and see trains from this unique perspective. What commuters on the passing trains thought on seeing me in the tunnel waving at them as they passed by is anyone’s guess.
The tour continued to the escalator engine room. Another fascinating sight and somewhere the average commuter (like myself) rarely gets to see.
Walking around this engine room I spotted something else that the average commuter rarely gets to see and hear: classic London Underground humour.
Although I am absolutely covered from head to toe in dust as a result (thank goodness I chose not to wear my cream-coloured coat today), it was a really fascinating tour seeing a side of the Piccadilly line often not seen by the travelling public. And a big thank you to the staff at the station who were superb.
Letting off steam to celebrate 150 years of the London Underground