TfL just unveiled its proposals to bring Bakerloo line stations to the Old Kent Road

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

The thing about building new underground railways these days is that it does tend to take a while. The Jubilee line that opened in 1979 was meant to be just the first phase of a route that would run along Fleet Street, finally provide a tube station for Fenchurch Street, and then continue down to Lewisham. An extension did eventually open – but not for another 20 years, and it didn't go to any of those places.

Across the Atlantic, the first stretch of New York City’s Second Avenue Subway route finally opened to passengers on 1 January this year – a mere 98 years after the route was first proposed.

One side effect of these endlessly elongated processes is that transport authorities end up publishing a lot of different planning documents, each very slightly different from the last. This not only serves to create an illusion of progress, it also provides opportunities for clickbait-y train-loving websites like yours truly to write slight variants on stories they've already done.

So, let's do it.

In December 2015 Transport for London confirmed that it hoped to extend the Bakerloo line south eastwards, down the Old Kent Road to New Cross and Lewisham by 2030. Last December, when it said it might actually manage it by 2028-9 instead (sure you will, TfL), I squinted very hard at a very blurry map, and wrote this piece speculating that the two new stations on the Old Kent Road would be by the big Tescos, and by the Canal Bridge junction, respectively.

So I am gratified, nay smug, to note that the consultation publicised today confirms that I was very nearly right – at least 75 per cent right, which is definitely more right than wrong. Which just goes to show that you people should pay more attention to what I say about stuff, that's all I'm saying.

Anyway. Here's the proposed route map:

These are the two options for the Old Kent Road 1 station. But basically they're just either side of Dunton Road, which is where I guessed it'd be, so I'm counting this a win:

I'm still calling this "Burgess Park", but "Old Kent Road North", "East Walworth" or "Dun Cow" probably work too. Over on Twitter, the Independent’s Jon Stone also suggests “Mandela” which would be rather lovely.

The two options for the Old Kent Road 2 station are actually a bit more geographically distinct:

To put that in context...

This complicates the name debate a bit, since only the northern one of those is at the Canal Bridge junction. For the other,"Old Kent Road South", “Peckham North” or "Asylum Road” might do the job.

The other stops on the route – New Cross Gate, Lewisham – are existing stations so we know where they are already. There are also some shafts, but who cares about shafts, really.


Anyway. If you have strong views about any of this, the consultation runs until 21 April. And we'll be back to this topic next time TfL put out a very slightly different map.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason.

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How US planners experimented with “the iron hand of power” over colonial Manila

Manila in ruins, 1945. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

In 1904, Manila must have appeared to its new overlords a despairing prospect. Racked with poverty and disease, it was still recovering from years of war, epidemic and a fire that had left 8,000 homeless.

For architect Daniel Burnham, it was an opportunity to put to work the radical ideas he had dreamed of in America.

He was among those asking how America’s unprecedented wealth at the turn of the century could be reconciled with the lives of the country’s poorest. Like many, he admired the ideas of harmonised city-planning articulated in Edward Bellamy’s bestselling science-fiction Looking Backward (1888).

At the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Burnham constructed the “White City”. Built across 686 acres of parkland, boulevards, gardens and neoclassical structures rendered a spray-painted plaster vision of the future – all laid out to one comprehensive plan.

It was impressive – but implementing grand designs where people actually lived meant laborious negotiations with citizens, businessmen and politicians.

Instead, opportunity lay in America’s new overseas territories. As Daniel Immerwahr describes in How to Hide an Empire: A Short History of the Greater United States, “They functioned as laboratories, spaces for bold experimentation where ideas could be tried with practically no resistance, oversight, or consequences.”

An architect’s dream

The US had gone to war with Spain in 1898, taking advantage of an empire-wide insurrection. It ended up controlling the entire Philippines, along with Guam and Puerto Rico.

As a “territory”, the Philippines existed outside the protections of the constitution. Congress could impose any law, proclaimed the attorney general in 1901, “without asking the consent of the inhabitants, even against their consent and against their protest, as it has frequently done.”

Which is how Burnham, upon invitation by the Philippine’s new rulers, came to wield what the Architectural Record called “the iron hand of power” over Manila.

 Burnham’s plan for Manila. Click to expand.

Where Burnham’s Chicago plan was complex, took years and entailed collaboration with hundreds of citizens, Burnham spent six months on the Manila plan, and just six weeks in the Philippines. And with no voters to persuade, there seemed little reason to register Filipino input in his designs.

In 1905 Burnham submitted his Report on Improvement of Manila. It described filling the toxic moat of the Spanish fortress Intramuros and developing a rectangular street system modelled on Washington D.C., with diagonal arteries which even Chicago lacked.


Central to his plan was the city’s beautification through monumental buildings, waterfront improvements, and parks – “wholesome resorts” to “give proper means of recreation to every quarter of the city”

Burnham charged William E. Parsons as the omnipotent “Consultant Architect” to interpret his plan, who relished its authority over all public building as an “architect’s dream”. When concerned with the extent of his purview, he also chose to standardise a number of public buildings.

“I doubt if this method would bear fruit in our own city improvement plans, in which everything depends on slow moving legislative bodies,” reported the Architectural Record’s correspondent.

Despite Burnham’s colonial sentiments his biographer concluded his plan was “remarkable in its simplicity and its cognizance of Philippine conditions and traditions.”

His plans did not shy from asserting the colonial government’s authority, however. The Luneta, a favourite park, was to become the nuclei of government. The city’s avenues would converge there, for “every section of the Capitol City should look with deference toward the symbol of the Nation’s power.”

Unusual monumental possibilities

Burnham also worked on a summer palace for US administrators at Baguio, 150 miles north in the mountains. On land inhabited by Igorot people, Burnham saw an opening “to formulate my plans untrammelled by any but natural conditions”.

Baguio’s “unusual monumental possibilities” were facilitated by a road whose construction employed thousands, risking death from disease and falling off cliffs. Civic buildings would “dominate everything in sight” and a golf course would rival those of Scotland.

“Stingy towards the people and lavish towards itself,” griped La Vanguardia, the government “has no scruples nor remorse about wasting money which is not its own.”

As enthusiasm for US empire soured in the States, local power was relinquished to Filipinos. Parsons resigned in protest in 1914. He was replaced by Manila-born Juan Arellano, whose rebuke to imperialists was the mighty, neoclassical Legislative Building which hosted the elected Philippine Legislature. Arellano upheld Burnham’s plan, producing a beautified city bearing resemblance to Burnham’s White City.

But the Legislative Building, along with Burnham’s great edifices and almost everything else in Manila, was levelled as US troops recaptured it in 1945, this time ousting the Japanese in a brutal battle. “Block after bloody block was slowly mashed into an unrecognizable pulp”, recorded the 37th Infantry Division as they exercised their own “iron hand” over Manila.

American artillery had transformed Manila into ruins. “It was by far the most destructive event ever to take place on US soil,” writes Immerwahr, even if few soldiers realised they were liberating US nationals at the time. Burnham’s expansive vision was lost in the debris, and though some buildings were rebuilt a majority were replaced. Today, Manila’s pre-war architecture is remembered with fondness and nostalgia.