Rayners Lane Station, Harrow

  • Alexandra Avenue, Harrow, Middlesex, HA5 5EG
  • Designed by: Charles Holden and Reginald Uren
  • Built: 1938
  • Tags: Art Deco, Transport

Standing on Alexandra Avenue in Harrow, Middlesex, Rayners Lane 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.

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.

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.

In 1925 Pick first commissioned architect 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.

From late 1933 London Transport extended the Piccadilly Line westwards from South Harrow to Uxbridge. Rayners Lane Station was designed by New Zealand-born architect Reginald Uren ((1906-88) following Holden's house style for London Transport. Uren worked in Britain from 1930 onwards and his works also include Hornsey Town Hall in London.

Uren's design for Rayners Lane Station drew heavily on designs by Charles Holden at Sudbury Town and Sudbury Hill, and a similar design was used at neighbouring Eastcote. Built in 1938, it is a red-brick box with a concrete lid for a roof with two projecting curved corner kiosks at street level. The street frontage between the kiosks carries the London Underground network map. Advertising hoardings have been added at a later date either of the Underground map. The The main entrances are set behind the kiosks and provide access through double doors to the double height ticket hall. Above each kiosk is a large, pole-mounted 'Underground' roundel.

The ticket hall forms a double height box with two large metal framed windows on the front elevation and a single, wider window on the side elevations. 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 cantilevered concrete roofs provide shelter and there are enclosed waiting rooms, with curved, glazed end walls. Elsewhere the platforms are bordered by concrete fences, broken with concrete panels combining station signs and advertising space.

Early designs for Rayners Lane were for the station to be at the centre of a parade of shops extending along Rayners Lane to the north and Alexandra Avenue to the south. However, owing to later budget restrictions these were not built. A parade of shops was later added along Rayners Lane, as illustrated above.

Rayners Lane 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 and exterior and interior signage.

The building was awarded Grade II-listed status on 17 May 1994.

References

  • Lawrence, David (2008) Bright Underground Spaces - The Railway Stations of Charles Holden Harrow Weald: Capital Transport Publishing

Posted by Richard Coltman on Saturday, July 23, 2011

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