Friday, April 11, 2008

London stations: Victoria

Owing to a mixup with timings, I found myself with 45 minutes to kill at Victoria station, so I did what any self-respecting geek would do. But before getting my pint, I had a wander round.

Victoria is the station that all trains from the Chatham Main line from Faversham terminate at. I've visited it countless times, dashed across the concourse in reach of the last train, abused its Dyson Airblades. But rarely have I just wandered round it, so I did. The platform that my train usually arrives at (and often departs from) is platform two, the longest platform on the station. During the many years it was running the boat train would arrive at this platform - it had to be long in order to accommodate the immigration facilities now found at St Pancras. Quite often railtours to the south east and the Orient Express leave from here, so if I'm coming in on another platform (like before the Swindon trip) I'll wander round to my normal platform and see what's what. That said, I normally go through the barriers by platform seven, as there's normally a scrum round the nearer set, and it also leaves me with less of the concourse to battle through to get to the underground.

Victoria station is unique amongst other termini in London, in that it was two seperate buildings knocked through to create one. The shops in the above link are on the dividing line where the old wall was - if you go further along past the doughnut shop and seating towards platform 8 you can see a better example of the wall. This was something I forgot to do during my writeup. Continuing into the "other" station across the immense open concourse (and passing people collecting money for Parkinson's Disease by shaking buckets, something that caused me to laugh out loud and several people to give me a wider berth) I suddenly found myself in the middle of a shopping centre. This sudden change in scenery confused me and I ventured back out onto the station, to the Gatwick Express platforms. Stumbling up an escalator I found myself outside in the April sunshine in a taxi rank, staring at the roof covering my home platforms.

Continuing round the station I decided to enter from the front, taking pictures of each station building before I did. With fifteen minutes remaining before Katy arrived I retired to the pub, sitting on the balcony overlooking the station (if you look carefully below the "Stationary" banner here you can see the chairs I sat on) with a pint of cider to people watch. It got somewhat cold up there, so if you fancy it yourself wear a sweater, but the view is worth it.

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