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cutting the 90th birthday cake at southgate station march 2023Cutting the birthday cake are station manager Kevin Era, Mayor of Enfield Cllr Doris Jiagge and 90-year old Southgate District Civic Voice member Stan Rondeau. To the left is SDCV vice chair Jane Maggs and to the right Dan Maier, who created the station's brightly coloured window installations (photo: Mervyn Maggs)

It was a day for celebrations in Southgate on Sunday, as people got together to mark the 90th anniversary of the first day of operation of the Piccadilly Line extension from Arnos Grove to Oakwood, and in particular the opening of Southgate Station.

The whole day of activities was organised by Southgate District Civic Voice (SDCV), the Town Centre team from Enfield Council and Transport for London (TfL).

Singing Happy Birthday was led by the Busker Department of London’s The SKAM, with choir members from St Andrew’s church.

As it was a party, there was a stunning cake, made by Wiltons Patisserie, which was cut by the Mayor of Enfield Cllr Doris Jiagge and station manager Kevin Eva, with help from SDCV member Stan Rondeau, who had just turned 90.

Members of the station staff took visitors on a guided tour of the station's exterior and interior, including a normally closed off area which would serve as an evacuation tunnel should the need ever arise.

Southgate Station is of course a combined tube and bus station, so the day wouldn't have been complete without a heritage bus, RT3933, which belongs to the Epping-Ongar Railway and spent the afternoon taking passengers back and forth between Southgate and Palmers Green.

Bus travel 1950s and 60s-style - the jammed open front window added an extra touch of authenticity

The vintage bus sported route 29 destination blinds created specially for the occasion - a reminder that the northern end of this important bus route once ran along Aldermans Hill, Cannon Hill and High Street on its way from Victoria Station to Potters Bar (and at one time as far as Borehamwood). From time to time, when a 125 called at the bus station, the classic bus from the 1950s could be seen in the company of one of London's newest all-electric double deckers.

The London Transport RT type - once the capital's most ubiquitous double decker

preserved rt bus at southgate station during station anniversary celebrationsSide by side, two of London Transport's finest designs - a classic RT bus and Southgate Station

Like London Transport's 1930s suburban underground stations, the RT (Regent Three) would have seemed streamlined and futuristic when it was introduced just before WW2. Because of the war, it wasn't built in any great numbers until 1946, but then production really got going and 4825 were built up to 1954. In the late fifties and for much of the 1960s the RT was the predominant motor bus on London's streets. There were still plenty around during the 1970s, with the last one running in east London in 1979.

There were RTs based at Palmers Green Garage right up to 1978, running along the North Circular on routes 34 and 102, but during the last couple of years they were in a pretty dreadful state, nothing like the resplendent condition of the vehicle that took part in the Southgate Station celebrations.

Bus enthusiast Alican Harry Reilly shows us around the bus, estate agent-style

In nearby Chase Side the Southgate Club hosted a display of historic photographs, which generated interesting discussions of how Southgate has changed since the station arrived. It was also a chance for visitors to see the club's art gallery and its refurbished bar area and to sample excellent beer at very reasonable prices.

In other parts of Southgate, Doodle Design created a place for children to reimagine Southgate, there were discussions on how to improve the green spaces with Jan Kattein Architects and the Bee Friendly Trust. The Southgate public art project was on display, generating great feedback and ideas.

For more about the construction and opening of Southgate Station, see this article by Jane Maggs in the Enfield Dispatch.

IanVisits visits

southgate station anniversary headline from ianvisits websiteNo great surprise to learn that among the many visitors to the Southgate Station celebrations was Ian Mansfield, the man behind the amazing IanVisits website - public transport is after all one of his favourite subjects, as are local history and architecture. But his excellent coverage of the Piccadilly Line extension anniversary provides a good excuse to direct readers who may not be aware of it to this invaluable source of information about events in London and other news about our capital city.

Ian's report about Saturday's events includes some excellent photographs, some of which were taken during the behind the scenes tour of the station. Ian's visit also took in Oakwood Station, which also has great architectural merit, though not as immediately striking as at Southgate, and another local Piccadilly Line landmark, the viaduct in Arnos Park.

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Today’s the 90th anniversary of a Piccadilly line extension

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