A chilling and exhaustive inventory of London’s major railway stations ranked by temperature

Baby it’s cold outside. (Okay, today it isn’t actually, but still.) Image: Getty.

Depending on your route, entry into London can be either an eye-watering push through a frozen and gaping hole or a cloying, damp-breath squeeze into a baguette-smelling shopping centre.

In 34 years of coming and going (born here, moved out as a child, returned as an adult), I have built up a forensic picture of London’s major railway stations and the microclimates in which they exist. No number of noodle emporiums, shirt retailers or blister plasters can hide what I like to think of as a station’s core temperature. Forget seasons, weather, crowd size or time of day; this is a tabulation based on the very essence of the station itself.

Brrrrrrrrrr

Paddington

Sweet mother of suffering chillblains. Paddington Station is a frozen tundra, a relentless howling gale, a house-sized tube of draught, pockmarked by ticket machines and gift shops. It is the coldest place in London. The Atlantic may as well break upon its shore, as it turns its wind-bitten face to the west.

Waterloo

 

A snowy day at Waterloo. Image: Getty.

I sometimes wonder if they pump the Waterloo air straight off the surface of the Thames. It just has that nautical bite, a kind of chill that sets into your bones, wriggles down your scarf and kickboxes you in the ankles. Last time I waited there for a train I ended up pushing my fingers down into my thermos: true story.


London Bridge

The Watership Down of train stations: largely underground, often damp, overlooked by the terrifying and vicious. While not always and essentially freezing, it does feel somehow chilled. Like the plums in the icebox. Only the plums are the West Cornwall Pasty Company and the icebox is the doldrums of The Shard.

Clapham Junction

While not, strictly-speaking a major interchange, Clapham Junction is the busiest station in Britain (at least, according to measure of traffic, rather than passenger numbers, with a train apparently departing from there every 30 seconds). So it earns a mention as, in my humble opinion, the windiest station in Britain, if not the world. (I’d give notable mention to Warschauer Straße in Berlin as the other hot contender for sheer, bitter wind power.)

Marylebone

Marylebone is as cold as the past: as cold as open fires and polished brass; as cold as Sunday closing and terry cloth nappies; as cold as bowler hats and tuberculosis; as cold as coal smoke and a fit of the nerves. Not thermically cold, perhaps, but certainly stiff with the chilly weight of time.

Getting warmer

Kings Cross

Only get hawks on warm days, you know. Image: Getty.

A veritable cathedral to tepidity. From the lukewarm tea to the brick walls, Kings Cross is as tall and blank as a stingray, floating through the blood temperature waters of North London. Not that this stops 5,783 dweebs turning up in floor-length maroon and yellow scarves everyday, trying to wring some magic out of what is, essentially, a sandwich-flavoured waiting shed for London North Eastern.

Victoria

Essentially a 50p wee with a trains side dish, Victoria has a particularly stale, acrid climate that has little to do with temperature and everything to do with huffing commuters in navy suits smacking their briefcases into every passing knee as they bark meaningless orders into a takeaway cortado like a labrador staring down a rabbit hole.

St Pancras

Bah oui, St Pancras c’est chaud, non? Well okay, not actually chaud but definitely getting that way, even in January. Unless you make the mistake of walking down the M&S sandwich aisle which is, of course, colder than snow (but that’s more of a national crisis than a station-specific problem).

The very mouth of hell

Liverpool Street

It was probably quite warm that day. Image: Getty.

Bring me your tired, your hipsters, your huddled city boys yearning to breathe Essex, the wretched digital natives of your teeming shore. Send these, the sockless, hair-tossed to me, I lift my face to the golden departures board... and then take them for an egg roll at Wasabi and to Boots for some ibuprofen. Liverpool Street has that flat, unrolling warmth of Eastern England; a hairdressing climate, a sausage roll climate, a baked potato place.

Euston

Mmmmm, the warm hug of secondhand fag smoke, how I miss you. While pregnant, I managed to throw up every single time I set foot in Euston Station. Perhaps it was the heat, perhaps the smell of old chicken and gritty coffee, perhaps it was just sheer exhilaration at being so close to a Paperchase, but my god that station made me hurl. Still, at least it’s warm.

Oxford Circus

Sure, it’s not a major railway station, but special mention must go to the Bakerloo Line stop at Oxford Circus: hotter than Dante’s jockstrap and just as inviting. According to figures from TfL, the Bakerloo Line is the hottest line in London, temperature-wise. And, according to figures from my own sweat-soaked hauling of a large suitcase during a July heatwave, yes, yes it is. Burn on, Oxford Circus: you make clowns of us all.

Nell Frizzell tweets as @NellFrizzell.

 
 
 
 

The Fire Brigades Union’s statement on Theresa May’s resignation is completely damning

Grenfell Tower. Image: Getty.

Just after 10 this morning, Theresa May announced that she would resign as Britain’s prime minister on 7 June. A mere half an hour later, a statement from Royal Institute of British Architects president Ben Derbyshire arrived in my inbox with a ping:

“The news that Theresa May will step down as Prime Minister leaves the country in limbo while the clock ticks down to the latest deadline of 31 October. While much is uncertain, one thing remains clear – a no deal is no option for architecture or the wider construction sector. Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister must focus on taking the country forward with policies beyond Brexit that tackle the major challenges facing the country such as the housing crisis and climate change emergency.”

I was a bit baffled by this – why would the architecture profession try to get its thoughts into a political story? But then Merlin Fulcher of Architects Journal put me right:

Well you know construction is a larger contributor to GDP than financial services, and most of the work UK architects do is for export, and at least half of the largest practice (Foster + Partners) are EU, so there's a lot at stake

— Merlin Fulcher (@merlinfulcher) May 24, 2019

So, the thoughts of the RIBA president are an entirely legitimate thing to send to any construction sector-adjacent journalists who might be writing about today’s big news, and frankly I felt a little silly.

Someone else who should be feeling more than a little silly, though, is Theresa May herself. When listing her government’s achievements, such as they were, she included, setting up “the independent public inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower” – a fire in a West London public housing block in June 2017 – “to search for the truth, so nothing like it can ever happen again, and so the people who lost their lives that night are never forgotten”.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, is having precisely none of this. Here’s his statement:

“Many of the underlying issues at Grenfell were due to unsafe conditions that had been allowed to fester under Tory governments and a council for which Theresa May bears ultimate responsibility. The inquiry she launched has kicked scrutiny of corporate and government interests into the long-grass, denying families and survivors justice, while allowing business as usual to continue for the wealthy. For the outgoing Prime Minister to suggest that her awful response to Grenfell is a proud part of her legacy is, frankly, disgraceful.”

A total of 72 people died in the Grenfell fire. At time of writing, nobody has been prosecuted.

Jonn Elledge is editor of CityMetric and the assistant editor of the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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