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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What does the fate of Detroit tell us about the future of Silicon Valley?

Detroit, 2008. Image: Getty.

There was a time when California’s Santa Clara Valley, bucolic home to orchards and vineyards, was known as “the valley of heart’s delight”. The same area was later dubbed “Silicon Valley,” shorthand for the high-tech combination of creativity, capital and California cool. However, a backlash is now well underway – even from the loyal gadget-reviewing press. Silicon Valley increasingly conjures something very different: exploitation, excess, and elitist detachment.

Today there are 23 active Superfund toxic waste cleanup sites in Santa Clara County, California. Its culture is equally unhealthy: Think of the Gamergate misogynist harassment campaigns, the entitled “tech bros” and rampant sexism and racism in Silicon Valley firms. These same companies demean the online public with privacy breaches and unauthorised sharing of users’ data. Thanks to the companies’ influences, it’s extremely expensive to live in the area. And transportation is so clogged that there are special buses bringing tech-sector workers to and from their jobs. Some critics even perceive threats to democracy itself.

In a word, Silicon Valley has become toxic.

Silicon Valley’s rise is well documented, but the backlash against its distinctive culture and unscrupulous corporations hints at an imminent twist in its fate. As historians of technology and industry, we find it helpful to step back from the breathless champions and critics of Silicon Valley and think about the long term. The rise and fall of another American economic powerhouse – Detroit – can help explain how regional reputations change over time.

The rise and fall of Detroit

The city of Detroit became a famous node of industrial capitalism thanks to the pioneers of the automotive age. Men such as Henry Ford, Horace and John Dodge, and William Durant cultivated Detroit’s image as a centre of technical novelty in the early 20th century.

The very name “Detroit” soon became a metonym for the industrial might of the American automotive industry and the source of American military power. General Motors president Charles E. Wilson’s remark that, “For years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa,” was an arrogant but accurate account of Detroit’s place at the heart of American prosperity and global leadership.

The public’s view changed after the 1950s. The auto industry’s leading firms slid into bloated bureaucratic rigidity and lost ground to foreign competitors. By the 1980s, Detroit was the image of blown-out, depopulated post-industrialism.

In retrospect – and perhaps as a cautionary tale for Silicon Valley – the moral decline of Detroit’s elite was evident long before its economic decline. Henry Ford became famous in the pre-war era for the cars and trucks that carried his name, but he was also an anti-Semite, proto-fascist and notorious enemy of organised labor. Detroit also was the source of defective and deadly products that Ralph Nader criticized in 1965 as “unsafe at any speed”. Residents of the region now bear the costs of its amoral industrial past, beset with high unemployment and poisonous drinking water.


A new chapter for Silicon Valley

If the story of Detroit can be simplified as industrial prowess and national prestige, followed by moral and economic decay, what does that say about Silicon Valley? The term “Silicon Valley” first appeared in print in the early 1970s and gained widespread use throughout the decade. It combined both place and activity. The Santa Clara Valley, a relatively small area south of the San Francisco Bay, home to San Jose and a few other small cities, was the base for a computing revolution based on silicon chips. Companies and workers flocked to the Bay Area, seeking a pleasant climate, beautiful surroundings and affordable land.

By the 1980s, venture capitalists and companies in the Valley had mastered the silicon arts and were getting filthy, stinking rich. This was when “Silicon Valley” became shorthand for an industrial cluster where universities, entrepreneurs and capital markets fuelled technology-based economic development. Journalists fawned over successful companies like Intel, Cisco and Google, and analysts filled shelves with books and reports about how other regions could become the “next Silicon Valley”.

Many concluded that its culture set it apart. Boosters and publications like Wired magazine celebrated the combination of the Bay Area hippie legacy with the libertarian individualism embodied by the late Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow. The libertarian myth masked some crucial elements of Silicon Valley’s success – especially public funds dispersed through the U.S. Defense Department and Stanford University.

The ConversationIn retrospect, perhaps that ever-expanding gap between Californian dreams and American realities led to the undoing of Silicon Valley. Its detachment from the lives and concerns of ordinary Americans can be seen today in the unhinged Twitter rants of automaker Elon Musk, the extreme politics of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, and the fatuous dreams of immortality of Google’s vitamin-popping director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil. Silicon Valley’s moral decline has never been clearer, and it now struggles to survive the toxic mess it has created.

Andrew L. Russell, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences; Professor of History, SUNY Polytechnic Institute and Lee Vinsel, Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Virginia Tech.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.