JCT

Things I’d never noticed about Piccadilly Circus Tube station

In London on June 24, 2011 at 9:25 am

Following on from the last post about commuting, I’d like to pay particular homage to Piccadilly Circus Tube station, which I’ve found myself passing through several times this week.

I cannot believe I have lived in London 21 years, and that I worked on Time Out for more than seven of those, but never noticed this before:

It’s down on the concourse of Piccadilly Station, near the exits for Regent Street North, and tells you the time around the world (or it would if it was working). The strip in the middle moves across and the arrows help you locate London on the scale, like so:

You see? And how brilliant would it be if it actually started working again? (I actually took this photo at about 7pm BST.) Can we campaign to Boris?

Because Piccadilly Circus is rare (unique?) among Tube stations in being entirely underground with no above ground building (there was one, but they needed a bigger one so they built this in 1928 and knocked the original down), it isn’t on people’s radar in the way that some of those art deco classics like Arnos Grove are, though it was also designed by Charles Holden.

The circular concourse is pleasing in its own right, but it also retains lots of pleasing features such as:

the creamy  Travertine marble walls,

the bank of public telephones:

a series of wooden shuttered hatches (possibly once ticket hatches? anyone know?):

elegant signage:

and the metal-edging to the signage and advertising sites.

The station is currently full of some great posters as part of TfL’s commission of 100 artists to reimagine the ‘rotunda’ icon, 100 years old this year. I snapped a couple of favourites (by Harold Offeh and Richard Wentworth).

  

…but there are hundreds more (ok 98) to spot around town, and at least 20 in Piccadilly station. Or you can save the legwork and see them all here.

In fact I got so distracted by the control room and a rather lovely piece of lettering at the top of the Piccadilly Line escalator recording Charles Holden’s achievement, that I got told off for standing on the left. The shame!

If you want some interesting fact about the architecture/history, you might be able to read this if you turn down the brightness on your screen and squint:

 

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