For the second year in a row Southgate District Civic Voice hosted a talk by TfL on the history of the London Underground with a special mention about the extension of the Piccadilly Line from Southgate to Cockfosters.
Appropriately, the talk took place at the Southgate Club within a stones throw of Southgate station on Saturday February 3rd. The event was sold out and attended by an enthusiastic audience of over 100 including some who had travelled far and wide.
The event was a continuation of the 90th anniversary celebrations of the opening of the extension. Originally there were supposed to be two speakers however for personal reasons, one of them had to pull out at the last moment. Edmund Bird who has been Heritage Manager for Transport for London for over 20 years presented both his own talk and that of his absent colleague Gareth Leslie who is a Design, Planning and Heritage Manager.
The event was split into two parts. The first, was an overview of past and present history of the roots and beginnings of the London Underground network covering the people, places and transport across London and beyond from its inception in 1863, right up to the present day with the opening of the Elizabeth Line.
This was followed by a look at how the network was extended in the 1930’s from Finsbury Park to Cockfosters and not built any further out due to rules relating to the Green Belt around Outer London which came in around the same period. The talk was illustrated with slides courtesy of the London Transport Museum, showing historic photos, posters and maps covering every era of its development.
After that, there was a question and answer session covering a wide range of topics. Some, including specific historical issues but many dealing with present day concerns such as; the introduction of more step-free access on the network, provision of toilets, the reduction of car parking at the outer-London stations the Piccadilly line due to property development projects, staffing levels and security at outlying stations.
Mention was made of the impact that was still being felt by the reduction in TfL’s revenue due to the pandemic and how passenger numbers have not yet increased to match pre-2019 levels. Edmund Bird said at one point that TfL have ‘no money’ but countered this later by explaining that TfL do receive funding for some key capital projects through grants from heritage organisation and other external sources.
On the positive side, among future projects mentioned were; the installation of toilets at Arnos Grove as part of a general renovation project, the refurbishment of the clock at Southgate Station and some step-free initiatives which coincidentally were reported in the local and national press recently.
A big thank you to Southgate District Civic Voice for hosting the event.