TfL wants to bring construction forward – but where will the Bakerloo line extension actually go?

All stops to Lewisham: a Bakerloo line train. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Transport for London just released its new business plan. It promises various dull-but-worthy administrative reorganisations in search of financial savings, shuffles various station upgrade plans around the schedule (Camden Town, Holborn), and includes £20m set aside to develop a plan for rail devolution just in case Chris Grayling has an unexpected change of heart.

The most exciting bit, though, is that it confirms plans to extend the Bakerloo line to the south east through a newly bored tunnel. That’s actually been the plan since last December – but TfL have brought it forward, and now reckon that, instead of getting it done by 2030, it might be finished for 2028-9.

What with one thing and another, all this remains a bit theoretical, but nonetheless, here’s the map:

It’s hard to imagine the station names “Old Kent Road 1” and “Old Kent Road 2” surviving contact with the enemy, though. So what else might they be called?

One possibility – the boring possibility – would be simply “Old Kent Road North” and “Old Kent Road South”. This would have the virtue of clarity, I suppose, but I can’t bear stations named after roads, and it would in any case also be unbelievably dull.

So what else might they be called? Let’s assume for a moment – perhaps optimistically – that this map is intended as literal, and that the points marked on it represent actual proposed station locations, rather than simply a vague aspiration to have two stations somewhere on the Old Kent Road. Do that and, best I can tell – comparing the station to the position of the Thames, borough boundaries, and so forth – the two new stations are roughly where I’ve placed the two black stars on this map:

The northern stop looks to be somewhere in the vicinity of the big Tescos by the junction with Albany Road. Buses terminating around there used to refer to that junction as “Old Kent Road / Dun Cow” after a long dead pub. (It’s now a doctor’s surgery.) But they don’t often do that any more, instead defaulting to “Old Kent Road / Tesco”, and no way are Tesco getting their name on a tube stop on my watch.

So a more sensible name would probably be “Burgess Park”, after, well, guess. It’s not ideal – the park in question is nearly a mile wide, its western edge lying all the way over on the Walworth Road – but it’s a nice park more people should know about, and Dun Cow is a stupid name for a tube stop.

A map of Burgess Park. Image: Open Street Map/Dan Karran.

The southern one is easier, albeit sillier: the junction with Peckham Park Road still revels in the name “Canal Bridge”, as this was once the point where the Old Kent Road crossed the Grand Surrey Canal.

The canal in question is long gone: its route through Burgess Park is now a cycle path, its previous role visible only in the occasional, slightly vexing iron bridge. But the junction still goes by that name, and there is something wonderfully London-appropriate about naming a new tube stop after a canal that’s not there any more.

So, if I had my way, here’s how the bottom of the Bakerloo line will look, c2030:

It won’t, of course. I’m almost certainly reading more detail into that map than it actually contains. And there’s already a campaign to add a third Old Kent Road stop at the very top of the road: Bricklayers Arms, another long dead pub, which gave its name to a long dead freight terminal and latterly a big roundabout with a flyover.

So, no, for those and no doubt other reasons, my map is almost certainly wrong. But I got to draw a map, that’s the important thing. I like maps.

Maps.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @jonnelledge.

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Where did London’s parakeets come from?

Parakeets in the skies above Wormwood Scrubs, west London. Image: Getty.

Visitors to London’s many green spaces would have to be stubbornly looking at their feet to not see one of the UK’s most exotic birds.  Dubbed “posh pigeons” by unimaginative Londoners, these brilliant green parakeets stand out among the fauna of Northern Europe’s mostly grey cities.

‘Parakeets’ is actually an umbrella term referring to the multiple species, which can now be found in London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and various German cities. By far the most common is the Indian ring-necked parakeet, easily recognisable by the stylish red ring around their neck, a matching red beak and, of course, the loud squawking.

In the last 50 years these migrants from South Asia have arrived and thrived, settling into their own ecological niche. In the UK, London is a particular stronghold, but although they may have originally settled in the leafy streets of Twickenham, the birds can now be found in cities as far north as Glasgow.

The story of how they ended up in London is a matter of some discussion and plenty of myth. One often reported theory is that the capitals’ current population are the descendants of birds that escaped from Shepperton Studios during filming of The African Queen, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Others would tell you that they escaped from Syon Park in the early 1970s, when a piece of debris from a passing plane damaged the aviary and allowed them to escape. This chimes with their original concentration in South West London.
My favourite story by far is that they were released by Jimi Hendrix on Carnaby Street in the late 60s. Bored of London’s grey skyline, he set the little fellas free to liven up the place.

However they got here, from 1970 onwards their numbers boomed. In 1992, 700 birds were recorded in London Bird Report. By 1998, 2,845 were seen in the London Area, and by 2006 the ring-neck parakeet was 15th most sighted bird in London.


Darwin would be proud at how well they adapted to the new environment. Toughened up by the hard Himalayan climate, they handle the cold northern European winters better than most locals. Global warming is often brought up in discussions of the parakeets, but it is certainly only part of the story.
It helps, too, that the birds have a 35 year lifespan and few local predators, enabling them to breed freely.

As with any new species, the debate has raged about whether they are harmful to the ecosystem. Strangely reminiscent of the debate over human migrants, often the birds have often been accused of stealing the homes of the natives. The parakeets do nest in tree cavities also used by jackdaws, owls and woodpeckers – but there is little evidence that native species are being muscled out. 

The also provide a food source for Britain's embattled birds of prey. Owls and peregrine falcons have been know to eat them. Charlie and Tom, two city dwelling falcons monitored by Nathalie Mahieu, often bring back parakeets as food.
Of more concern is the new arrivals’ effect on plants and trees. By 2009 their numbers in the UK had grown so much that they were added to the “general licence” of species, which can be killed without individual permission if they are causing damage.

And Parrotnet, am EU funded research project studying the development of parakeet populations across Europe, has warned of the risk they pose to agriculture. In their native India, the parakeets are known to cause widespread damage to crops. As agriculture develops in the UK in line with warmer climates, crops such as maize, grapes and sunflower will become more popular. In India the birds have been documented as reducing maize crops by 81 per cent.

So the parakeets remain divisive. Environmentalist Tony Juniper has disparagingly described them as “the grey squirrel of the skies”. By contrast, the University of York biologist Chris D. Thomas has argued that the parakeets should be left free to move and breed. He sees those wary of the parakeet boom of “irrational persecution” of the bird.

For good or ill the parakeets are here to stay. As so often with migrants of all kinds, there has been some unease about the impact they have had – but the birds, popular amongst Londoners, certainly add colour to the city. Thriving in the urban environment thousands of miles from their natural habitat, they are a metropolitan bird for Europe’s metropolitan cities. 

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