Arnos Grove Underground Station, London

  • Bowes Road, London, Greater London, N11 1AN
  • Designed by: Charles Holden
  • Built: 1931 - 1932
  • Tags: Art Deco, Transport

Standing on Bowes Road (the A1110) in the London Borough of Enfield, Arnos Grove Underground Station is arguably London's most iconic underground station, and photographs of the station and have been used extensively in the media. Of all the Underground stations designed by British architect Charles Holden, Arnos Grove is perhaps the design that represents the best of his work on the London Underground network.

In 1926 the City & South London Railway (C&SLR) (owned by the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL)) commissioned seven stations for the line's extension to Morden from Charles Holden. UERL was managed by Frank Pick (1878-1941) and it was Pick who was responsible for commissioning British designer Edward Johnston (1872-1944) to design the Underground's iconic 'roundel' symbol and typography.

Holden was born in Bolton on 12 May 1875, entering architectural practice in 1892. Subsequently he 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.

The success of Holden's work for C&SLR/UERL led to more commissions, most notably for new stations on the Piccadilly Line. The Piccadilly Line was extended in the 1930s northwards from its then northern terminus at Finsbury Park to Arnos Grove in September 1932; its final northernmost station was built at Cockfosters in July 1933.

Holden used a number of different basic concepts for his designs, with variations to these concepts producing a unique legacy of stations in London.

Arnos Grove Underground Station has a cross-shaped footprint, with a single-storey ground floor and double-height central ticket hall. The ticket hall rises as a double-height, drum-shaped space lit by eight, metal-framed clerestorey windows. The drum is topped with a flat, projecting concrete roof atop a plain, concrete entablature. The Bowes Road frontage at street level has two wide entrance bays provide access to the station concourse. The ground floor storey is extensively glazed, flooding the space with light. The ground floor storey has a flat concrete roof, projecting outwards from a concrete entablature, with a 'ribbon' of blue tiles and blue-illuminated glass signage carrying the station name.

As originally designed, the ground floor was sub-divided: the northern quadrant housed a staff mess room, the north-east quadrant a 'uniformed' staff room, the south-east quadrant housed the booking office, the south west quadrant a shop and the north west quadrant was for bicycle storage. A west side entrance was located between the shop and bicycle storage, with separate male and female toilets in the west entrance lobby area. Opposite, at the buildings easternmost extent, is access to the platforms.

The platforms are set below the staion building; the station is alongside the northbound track with a bridge continuing across to the southbound track. Both north and southbound platforms are accessed by stepped stairwells with clerestorey glazing leading down to the platforms which have a cantilevered concrete canopy, providing shelter to waiting passengers.

Arnos Grove Underground Station has received limited alterations over the years, only necessary changes to make the station suitable for modern transportation have been made, and to London Underground's credit these have been in a sympathetic manner. In 2005 the station was refurbished and modernised to provide travel information, including dot matrix displays and a public announcements system, and closed-circuit television for security and safety.

Holden's earlier stations at Sudbury Town and Sudbury Hill used a 'brick box with a concrete roof' design, while at Chiswick Park and Arnos Grove Holden used a circular ticket hall. Later, at Osterley and Boston Manor, Holden implemented designs with a tower/obelisk feature. Of all these concepts the circular drum shape is particulalry attractive, while compared to Chiswick Park, the symmetry of Arnos Grove ultimately marks the station out as perhaps the finest of Holden's work for London Underground.

The station building and platforms including canopies were awarded Grade II-listed status on 19 February 1971 and were subsequently elevated to Grade-II* listed status on 20 July 2011.


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

Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012

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