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.

 
 
 
 

There isn’t a war on the motorist. We should start one

These bloody people. Image: Getty.

When should you use the horn on a car? It’s not, and anyone who has been on a road in the UK in living memory will be surprised to hear this, when you are inconvenienced by traffic flow. Nor is it when you are annoyed that you have been very slightly inconvenienced by another driver refusing to break the law in a manner that is objectively dangerous, but which you perceive to be to your advantage.

According to the Highway Code:

“A horn should only be used when warning someone of any danger due to another vehicle or any other kind of danger.”

Let’s be frank: neither you nor I nor anyone we have ever met has ever heard a horn used in such a manner. Even those of us who live in or near places where horns perpetually ring out due to the entitled sociopathy of most drivers. Especially those of us who live in or near such places.

Several roads I frequently find myself pushing a pram up and down in north London are two way traffic, but allow parking on both sides. This being London that means that, in practice, they’re single track road which cars can enter from both ends.

And this being London that means, in practice, that on multiple occasions every day, men – it is literally always men – glower at each other from behind the steering wheels of needlessly big cars, banging their horns in fury that circumstances have, usually through the fault of neither of them, meant they are facing each other on a de facto single track road and now one of them is going to have to reverse for a metre or so.

This, of course, is an unacceptable surrender as far as the drivers’ ego is concerned, and a stalemate seemingly as protracted as the cold war and certainly nosier usually emerges. Occasionally someone will climb out of their beloved vehicle and shout and their opponent in person, which at least has the advantages of being quieter.

I mentioned all this to a friend recently, who suggested that maybe use of car horns should be formally restricted in certain circumstances.

Ha ha ha. Hah.

The Highway Code goes on to say -

“It is illegal to use a horn on a moving vehicle on a restricted road, a road that has street lights and a 30 mph limit, between the times of 11:30 p.m. and 07:00 a.m.”

Is there any UK legal provision more absolutely and comprehensively ignored by those to whom it applies? It might as well not be there. And you can bet that every single person who flouts it considers themselves law abiding. Rather than the perpetual criminal that they in point of fact are.


In the 25 years since I learned to drive I have used a car horn exactly no times, despite having lived in London for more than 20 of them. This is because I have never had occasion to use it appropriately. Neither has anyone else, of course, they’ve just used it inappropriately. Repeatedly.

So here’s my proposal for massively improving all UK  suburban and urban environments at a stroke: ban horns in all new cars and introduce massive, punitive, crippling, life-destroying fines for people caught using them on their old one.

There has never been a war on motorists, despite the persecution fantasies of the kind of middle aged man who thinks owning a book by Jeremy Clarkson is a substitute for a personality. There should be. Let’s start one. Now.

Phase 2 will be mandatory life sentences for people who don’t understand that a green traffic light doesn’t automatically mean you have right of way just because you’re in a car.

Do write in with your suggestions for Phase 3.