Saturday, June 6, 2015

Maida Vale, London

Happy birthday

London's Maida Vale underground station celebrates its one hundredth birthday today, Saturday 6 June 2015. It's one of the many stations designed in the style developed by Leslie Green, the Underground's short-lived architect of the first years of the 20th century. The trademark manner that Green developed became a kind of three-dimensional corporate identity for the capital's underground railway. It's not just the familiar oxblood tiles, but so many of the other details – segmental arches, ornate glazing bars, signs made up of big tiles containing one or sometimes two individual letters each, the flat roof designed to accommodate development above if desired – that make these station instantly recognisable. And of course the Underground roundel. Maida Vale has a particularly decorative glittering mosaic version of this inside the station, which I've posted about before.

This station's other claim to fame is that when it opened it was staffed entirely by women – apparently it was the first tube station to have an all-female staff. This was no doubt a result of the way in which World War I was draining potential male staff members away at a rapid rate, bringing many women into waged employment for the first time. Thoughts of the war provoke mixed feelings, then, but the architecture and its survival are something, at least, to be thankful for.

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Ian Visits has more about the station here.

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