Monday, November 21, 2011

Charing Cross escalators

click photo to enlarge
Just over a month ago - October 4th to be precise - it was the 100th anniversary of the opening of the first escalator on the London Underground. The two machines that linked the Piccadilly and District/Circle Lines  underwent a one month trial period to establish their safety. They must have passed because between 1911 and 1915 another 22 were installed. Today the network has 422.

I've always been fascinated by the London Underground escalators. Although they all work on essentially the same principles and look pretty similar architects have frequently sought to inject difference through the surrounding architecture and decor. I was impressed by the totally stainless steel aesthetic of Canada Water station when I first saw it. Recently I passed the escalators at Charing Cross (above) and enjoyed their big circles and the mirrors that played tricks with the space. In fact, looking at these examples I felt transported into Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" or perhaps Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner". I definitely got the feeling that the architect (Terry Farrell) had been inspired by cinematic visions of the future when it came to the look at this station.

Incidentally, I'm the only person in this image with the time and inclination to stop, stand and stare. And perhaps one of a minority who was wondering whether it really is possible to fall down an up escalator for half an hour, as the old joke has it.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 24mm
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/20
ISO: 1600
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On