A few months ago I wrote about a display of historic underground pictures on the hoardings at Oxford Circus tube station. It must be said that Westminster (Jubilee Line) too has had a display of pictures for some time on one of the escalator banks while replacement of an escalator is underway.
Its one of the worst lit parts of Westminster tube station however plus the quality of the images left something to be desired and not just that the lights that reflected from the sides of the escalators onto the displays made these quite difficult to look at. Those very factors caused me to think some months back ‘I’m not doing a follow up to Oxford Circus on this one!’ And I didn’t bother.
However recently while doing some camera tests with my Nikon D300 to see if I could pull better images using the somewhat unreliable higher ISO settings, I decided to employ Westminster tube station as a testing ground for part of this work. The escalator pictures weren’t intended as the main subject in any way or form – but I did take some shots of these and despite the dark location and unwanted light reflections, some fairly reasonable shots could be got.
It’s why – many months later – I decided to do a feature on the Westminster escalator picture displays! For the newer images I used the D3300 however as it does a great job plus there’s also that extra in terms of picture quality. It doesn’t have the excellent focussing abilities of the D300 though!
Curiously the display begins (or ends) with this image from 1948 when London hosted the Olympics. Its a great picture but however it does not do justice to the old Westminster station which war far more interesting than just the entrance seen here.
The 1948 image shown above was in fact rebuilt from several others I shot. I wanted to show how these would have looked without any light glares or reflections of any sort.
There’s been an ongoing programme since about 2018 to replace several of the escalators at this station. Previous iterations involving the lower escalator banks featured merely plan blue hoardings and nothing else. With this, the middle escalator bank however, I suppose it was though in terms of the lengthy ongoing programme it would be a good idea to procure some images for the travellers’ interest. Personally I think in view of the location it would have been best without.
The next in the display features Charing Cross tube station which at the time was the southern terminus of the Jubilee Line.
The 1948 and the 1979 images proved to be some of the worst in terms of picture acceptability. These had the most light reflections upon them and the images simply couldn’t be used. One such example featuring the 1979 display is shown below…
Not very useable! One of the rejected 1979 images illustrates the awful light glare on the display boards.
I do not know why however the pictures on show aren’t chronologically sequenced. The next in the sequence is one from the late 1990s however I’ve placed one from further down as the correct one in the sequence…
The then Prime Minister John Major visits the old Westminster station for a ceremony to begin the construction of a totally new station both in deep level tube and sub surface formats. Part of the work interestingly also involved the construction of Portcullis House as an oversite development.
The ongoing work took quite a few years as I recall. There was a period of many months when there wasn’t even a station at Westminster. District and Circle trains simply passed through the construction site without stopping. Apart from a brand new and architecturally stupendous station (which I think is a good and worthy replacement for the old one) a major task was the alteration of the sub surface lines’ alignment. Previously these were at a higher level. The track has been lowered several feet.
Concrete spraying techniques used on the tube for the first time as this display featuring 1994 shows. The technique has since been used on the Battersea Power station extension and of course the Elizabeth line.
A special type of concrete application was used at the station to make the material sparkle! The concrete does indeed have a shine to it. The lighting scheme isn’t that great however. I think the station environment needs a refreshed work as well as ensuring some particularly dark areas are far better lit.
As mentioned at the beginning the station lighting levels aren’t all that great for a photographic display. This illustrates exactly why I didn’t want to bother in the first place! If it wasn’t the glare it was the fact the pictures were in a very dark setting. I did find that being on the adjacent escalator (by way of blocking its lights) one could get better shots. This image (plus the main feature image) were shot with the Nikon D300.
A slightly different shot of the display which I used instead of the previous one. Much like all the other displays I shot these from several angles to try and get the best possible images and then enhanced these,- and its these (shot with the D3300) that are the main work shown here.