Standing on Field End Road in Ruislip, Middlesex, Eastcote Station is a station serving both the Metropolitan and Piccadilly Lines on London Underground. In the early 1930s public transport in London was operated by a multitude of separate companies. Large companies such as the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (which operated a number of underground lines including the Central and Piccadilly lines) and the Metropolitan Railway (which operated London's first underground line), alongside numerous small bus companies operated a fragmented service to passengers.
In 1933 the London Passenger Transport Act sought to consolidate public transport services within the designated 'London Passenger Transport Area' under the auspices of the London Passenger Transport Board (London Transport). Underground and over-ground lines, buses, coaches and trams were combined, although separate 'brands' were created. For example inner London buses were red (such as the Routemaster) whilst in the outer areas 'Green Line' buses were dark green.
From late 1933 London Transport extended the Piccadilly Line westwards from South Harrow to Uxbridge. Eastcote Station was designed in 1936 by Charles Holden but was not opened until 1939. Charles Holden was born in Bolton on 12 May 1875. He entered architectural practice in 1892 and joined the practice of Henry Percy Adams (1865-1930) in 1899. In 1913 architect Lionel Godfrey Pearson (1879-1953) joined and the practice became the Adams, Holden and Pearson Partnership.
At the time of London Transport's formation, Frank Pick (1878-1941) - previously Managing Director of Underground Electric Railways Company of London - became Managing Director. In his previous role Pick has commissioned designer Edward Johnston (1872-1944) to design a typography and Underground 'roundel' symbol for the company. In 1925 Pick first commissioned Charles Holden to design the seven stations of the Northern Line's 1926 southern extension to Morden.
Frank Pick and Charles Holden worked on a succession of new underground stations and replacements for existing structures. The majority were in a bold new style which would become a 'house' style for London Underground up until the Second World War. Pick adopted a holistic approach to design for London Transport, extending from simple items such as benches, lighting and bus shelters to expansive schemes for stations. At the time this approach of creating a 'corporate identity' was relatively unheard of, unlike today.
Holden's design for Eastcote Station drew heavily on similar designs at Sudbury Town and Sudbury Hill. It is, however, not a copy but a well-executed evolution of the Sudbury model. Essentially a red-brick box with a concrete lid for a roof, Eastcote Station is a fine example of Holden's work. At street level the main entrance - of two separate sets of doors - is set back from two single-storey shops with large, curved glass windows. Above each shop is a large, pole-mounted 'Underground' roundel. The ticket hall forms a double height box, above the entrance, with a large metal framed window made up of alternating vertical bands of wide and narrow glass panes. A flat, concrete roof projects from the ticket hall, forming a pronounced lip. The platforms are set below the ticket hall - the ticket hall is above the tracks - and both north and southbound platforms are accessed by stepped stairwells with clerestorey glazing. At platform level there is extensive use of concrete with deeply cantilevered concrete roofs providing shelter and waiting rooms, with curved, glazed end walls. On the open platforms station signs, advertising space and platform lighting are cleverly combined into single units.
Eastcote Station is surprisingly unaltered, given the necessary changes in public transport, such as the need to provide travel information, and as a consequence of health and safety legislation. The station maintains original doors, platform clocks and signage. Charles Holden died in 1960, but his designs for London Underground stations are used by thousands of passengers each day. Few pause to admire the success of his work, but Eastcote along with Charles Holden's other stations, forms a special legacy.
The building was awarded Grade II-listed status on 17 May 1994.
Posted by Richard Coltman on Saturday, July 23, 2011