London … spending the afternoon underground to celebrate Manor House Tube station’s 80th anniversary … and also to get in from the rain

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.

One of Harold Stabler's original solid brass ventilation covers on the Westbound platform at Manor House Tube station

One of Harold Stabler’s original solid brass ventilation covers on the Westbound platform at Manor House Tube station

The Japanese-themed ventilation cover close up. If it wasn't for all the dust billowing out of it I could have stood under it for hours gazing up in wonder at it

The Japanese-themed ventilation cover close up. If it wasn’t for all the dust billowing out of it I could have stood under it for hours gazing up in wonder at it

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.

Streamlined planning - one of Charles Holden's street-level entrances to Manor House Tube station as it looks today. Designed for all weathers

Streamlined planning – one of Charles Holden’s street-level entrances to Manor House Tube station as it looks today. Designed for all weathers

The booking hall as it looks today. In 1996 Holden's original circular ceiling pattern & round light fittings design were faithfully replicated to replace the hideous strip lights some idiot put in during the 1970s

The booking hall as it looks today. In 1996 Holden’s original circular ceiling pattern & round light fittings design were faithfully replicated to replace the hideous strip lights some idiot put in during the 1970s

Drawings dating back to the 1940s of the original layout are still on display today in a disused control room at the station.

One of two drawings from the 1940s detailing the layout of Holden's original booking hall layout for Manor House Tube station

One of two drawings from the 1940s detailing the layout of Holden’s original booking hall layout for Manor House Tube station

The second drawing in the series detailing the escalators down to the platforms. These drawings were on display in front of the 'E3' control cabinet in the disused control room that is detailed in the middle of the drawing. A date could not be put on the stain on the display case glass

The second drawing in the series detailing the escalators down to the platforms. These drawings were on display in front of the ‘E3’ control cabinet in the disused control room that is detailed in the middle of the drawing. A date could not be put on the stain on the display case glass

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.

Deep in the tunnel: the Piccadilly line runs just beyond that gate

Deep in the tunnel: the Piccadilly line runs just beyond that gate

Original brickwork holding up the tunnel, now 70 years old. The top layer of dust over it was probably not so old, and hopefully the wiring was more up to date

Original brickwork holding up the tunnel, now 70 years old. The top layer of dust over it was probably not so old, and hopefully the wiring was more up to date

The entrance to the eastbound platform at Manor House seen from inside the tunnel. We were advised not to touch the gate as it was live

The entrance to the eastbound platform at Manor House seen from inside the tunnel. We were advised not to touch the gate as it was live

The tour continued to the escalator engine room. Another fascinating sight and somewhere the average commuter (like myself) rarely gets to see.

Inside the escalator engine room. The engines were huge and surprisingly colourful with major parts painted in a delightful blue and red (in keeping with the Underground's distinct and iconic palette)

Inside the escalator engine room. The engines were huge and surprisingly colourful with major parts painted in a delightful blue and red (in keeping with the Underground’s distinct and iconic palette)

Now that's a chain. The power behind the escalators at Manor House Tube station

Now that’s a chain. The power behind the escalators at Manor House Tube station

Walking around this engine room I spotted something else that the average commuter rarely gets to see and hear: classic London Underground humour.

I think Paul may have been one of our guides. If so, he wasn't that short and he wasn't standing on a box today during the tour

I think Paul may have been one of our guides. If so, he wasn’t that short and he wasn’t standing on a box today during the tour

Ron must make this claim a lot as there were several messages like this all around the engine room. A shame Ron wasn't present on the tour to ask

Ron must make this claim a lot as there were several messages like this all around the engine room. A shame Ron wasn’t present on the tour to ask

This may have been true. There was no sound coming from inside the locker

This may have been true. There was no sound coming from inside the locker

One of our guides disproving the claim, although the locker did seem to contain a number of items that looked like track 'sleepers' (hawh-hawh!)

One of our guides disproving the claim, although the locker did seem to contain a number of items that looked like track ‘sleepers’ (hawh-hawh!)

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.

TLT x

 

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