On tiles and fake houses

Leinster Gardens text

This text conversation took place on a Friday night, just over a week ago. It caused great excitement, much to the consternation of my companion at the time. It took rather a lot of explaining to help her understand the cause of my glee, and to be honest, I don’t think she ever got it entirely.

You, my lovely readers, will have understood though, surely? Leinster Gardens is famous and has been previously featured on this blog at least twice. I first discovered its secret during the tube’s 150th anniversary celebrations, courtesy of the fabulous 150 Great Things About the Underground blog. Then, thanks to Sherlock, the rest of the world discovered it this time last year. [In case you don’t remember, the location was one of Sherlock’s bolt holes.]

Sunday dawned bright and chilly – perfect conditions for some geeky exploring. It got off to a great start before I’d even joined my fellow geeks for brunch. My destination was Baker Street, and as I emerged from the Jubilee Line platforms (something that until three and a half years ago I had done six days a week), things felt different. Cleaner. Lighter. I thought perhaps the walls had undergone a deep-clean. As I reached the top of the escalator I realised that it wasn’t a lack of dirt, it was entirely new tiles. Not a big deal, you might think, but this part of Baker Street station had previously featured tiles reminding passengers of its most famous (yet entirely fictional) resident. Surely they hadn’t got rid of the Sherlock Holmes tiles??

Well yes, and no…
The tiles had gone, and been replaced by some classy, antique style tiles very much in keeping with Baker Street’s status as one of the oldest stations on the underground. BUT, one patch had been preserved – so sense had prevailed!

Baker St Tiles

Brunch over, we set off towards Paddington in search of Leinster Gardens. Should you want to find them yourself, they’re only 10 minutes walk from Paddington, so it’s very easy to do. So easy, I’m bemused that it’s taken me this long to get there!

Still unaware of the terraces’ secret? Take a look for yourself. Spot anything?

IMG_3891.JPG

How about from this angle?

Leinster Gardens

Got it? There’s something fishy about number 23. Did you spot the different roof in the first photo? The peculiar ‘glass’ of the windows in the second?

If you walk to the end of the road, turn right and then right again, you soon discover what’s behind the windows:

Behind Leinster Gardens

That would be nothing. Well, not exactly nothing – the District & Circle lines run along here (although originally it was the Metropolitan Line). The line’s first trains were steam powered and needed space to let off steam (don’t we all??), but residents apparently didn’t want their lovely white terrace to have a massive hole in the middle of it. And thus, the facades were erected and the residents were happy. Until, presumably, lots of geeks turned up to take photos of it…

When passions collide

WARNING: CONTAINS SHERLOCK SPOILERS

Few things have been so cemented into my diary in these early days of 2014 than the three episodes of Sherlock, beginning on the very first day of the year. Never has New Year’s Day been so eagerly anticipated by seemingly the entire country.

Come 9pm, I was settled on the sofa, all set (bar a drink which I had to dash off for in the opening credits – sometimes I actually wish the BBC had adverts!) for 90 minutes of televisual delight. I think that almost unanimously, Sherlock fans were not disappointed. Twitter was ablaze with activity and my phone beeped perpetually all the way through [it’s a good job I was alone in the flat] with tweets and texts that said edifying things like “Cheekbones!” and “LONGER CURLIER HAIR!”.

St Barts HospitalOne of the most famous rooftops in London…

I may have been a late convert to the church of Sherlock – after all, I’d only watched his momentous fall from Barts on Christmas Eve, having watched most of series 2 on the ferry to Dublin. (Where I had one lovely moment and one awkward one. Lovely: the old lady sitting next to me said, as we began to prepare for disembarkation, “What was that you were watching? It looked very exciting!” Awkward: Realising that episode 1 contained a naked lady for a long period of time, plus Sherlock clad in a sheet that then gets pulled away. Why awkward? See aforementioned lovely moment.) But my comparatively short-term commitment was richly rewarded by an episode that managed to combine two of my favourite things: Cumberbatch and disused tubes stations.

More than one person tweeted/texted me words to the effect of: “I think they wrote this episode of Sherlock just for you! Benedict Cumberbatch and the tube – perfect match!” I mean honestly! There really aren’t enough TV dramas based in and around the world of London’s ghost stations – a plot device I sensed might be on its way as soon as the tube cropped up. Brilliant.

What was not brilliant was the amount of bashing the episode received for its London Transport inaccuracies. Listen up tube geeks, if you were real tube geeks you would know two very important pieces of information:

1. There are only three places where filming can take place easily – the closed since 1994 Aldwych station; the abandoned Jubilee Line platforms at Charing Cross; and the Waterloo & City Line which is closed for longer periods than other lines. (There’s also the bit of track beyond Aldgate where Metropolitan Line trains could swap with East London Line trains. They no longer do that, so it’s closed.)

2. Londoners would NOT  be happy if their regular station was closed for a day just so the BBC could use it. Think of the lost revenue, inconvenience and general inadequacy of an excuse that would be!

Thus, Buzzfeed was probably quite right in this instance:

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 21.57.37

Yes, Watson’s journeying across London via tube was perhaps inaccurate. Yes, Sherlock’s mad motorbike dash to St James’ the Less (probably Pimlico) went unnecessarily over the river. But do I care? No. Because when it comes to creative, gripping and downright clever TV, I am perfectly happy to lay my geekery aside and just enjoy it – and I really wish some other nitpickers would do the same.

Returning to passions colliding. Hooray for opening so many TV viewers’ eyes to the world of disused tube stations. Now we can all be geeks together! (There’s been a fascinating increase in people sharing links to sites about them – lots more Friday Fun fodder.) Plus, anyone else notice that musicals even had their own role in the episode? Right towards the end, Les Mis – specifically Do You Hear the People Sing – playing at the start of the engagement drinks (at 1hr21 mins, if you want to go back and check).

Cumberbatch. Disused tube stations. Musicals.

Need I say more?

Well, just one more thing, and I’ll leave that to the lovely Laura who watched it at home with her family in Texas:

Lauren on InstagramWhat was she commenting on? This photo, of course:

Speedy's Sometimes, I like to take my runs along culturally interesting routes. (This is all of 15 mins walk from my flat.)