Olympia tube under threat
7th May 2011
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Oh-huh West Fourteeners! The strategy johnnies from Tube HQ have been hanging around Olympia tube platform again, brandishing clipboards and asking impertinent questions such as, "Where have you travelled from today?"

Evidently not enough of us responded correctly, because now TfL want to slash our Olympia shuttle service to coincide only with major shows at Olympia.

Incoming deja vu! We moved  into the Olympia area in 1980 and in those days it was pretty dead around here and therefore cheap. We did have the Candle Makers shop, and a few sign painters survived in Beaconsfield Terrace, and the station itself was West London's British Rail Motorail depot - "Let the train take the strain".

Across the rails on the Kensington side, I remember lay a shanty town of sheds and workshops, one of which serviced VW combi vans and another was a Persian restaurant called, I think, Mohsens, where you could get this most exotic thing called Persian cuisine. It's probably the Mohsens opposite Homebase these days, but back then that was just months after the Shah had got kicked out of Iran.

Anyway point of story, in 1980 things were pretty dead round here and a big part of the problem was the local tube.

The service was restricted to exhibitions at Olympia, so therefore useless for us locals in those pre-internet days when you had no easy access to train times. 

This now is the level of service Transport for London wants us to get back to.

Olympia station has an interesting history, as a local rail line predating the tube system but absorbed into it in the 1860s. In its day Olympia station has been hugely busy, especially between the wars when Lyons food emporium was going hammer and tongs up on the Hammersmith Road with 30,000 employees, and the Post Office Savings Bank behind it had another 8,000. At least the Savings Bank is still with us, as Blythe House the store room of so many delights from the V&A and the Science Museum. 

The service shrinkage is not brilliant either for local business. Earls Court & Olympia are building up the Olympia Exhibition Centre to be London's pre-eminent consumer events location. West London has lost so much trade show business and live music business to East London - ExCel and the O2 - so sadly Earls Court will go the way of the wreckers ball after the 2012 volleyball heats.

But we are not totally defenceless. Brook Green known informally as the Eaton Square of West London, has celebrity muscle for the 'Save Our Olympia Tube Service' campaign. Brendan Magrath is a local resident and has set up a website at myolympia.org. which is proving an effective rally point for local dissenters. From myolympia.org you can email your support to Earls Court & Olympia.

TfL expect us locals to take the Wimbledon line to West Brompton and change there for the Overground, legging it over the foot bridge at rush hour. Have these good folk never stood on the platform at West Kensington or West Brompton trying to get onto a rush hour train? Three or four go by until your sheer desperation forces you into the protesting crush. Meanwhile George Osbourne is encouraging us to all work from home.

All this as a new multi-occupancy residential development is going up on the old Charles House site.

At the end of the day, the shrinkage of the Olympia line must affect the value of local property. In which case, would TfL please oblige us all by removing the railway altogether and giving us back Counters Creek? It gurgles on down there below the rails from Kensal Rise to the Thames. Bullrushes on your door step, anyone?



About the Author

Simon R

Member since: 7th May 2011

I have lived and worked and guided in Hammersmith and Fulham for 30 years, and can introduce you to the must-see sights and also take you well off the beaten track. Come and let's have a good laugh together.

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