HAMPSTEAD UNDERGROUND STATION, which was designed by Leslie W Green (1875-1908), was opened for passengers in June 1907. Green was responsible for the use of blood red, glazed terracotta tiling on many of London’s Underground stations. The station facades and interiors which he designed, including those at Hampstead, feature many aspects of the British Art Nouveau style. Examples of this style can be seen on Hampstead’s facade, interior tiling, and the ticket office counters.
While I was researching my latest book, “Golders Green & Hampstead Garden Suburb: Visions of Arcadia” (available from Amazon), I came across an interesting diagram in a book by FC Howkins (published in 1923). It shows how the Northern Line tracks rise gradually from several feet below sea level at Embankment (formerly Charing Cross) station to 192 feet above sea level at Hampstead station. However, Hampstead station’s ticket office is about 360 feet above sea level, which is 168 feet above the tracks and platforms (Wikipedia stated that the platforms are 192 feet below the surface). High speed lifts convey passengers between the platform entrances and the ticket office. Originally, these were slow lifts which were entered though brown sliding wooden doors with Art Nouveau inspired cut-outs for ventilation purposes. These old lifts still existed when I was at school in the 1960s, but the newer high-speed lifts with metal concertina doors were the main method of moving between the surface and the trains. Currently, newer lifts have replaced those which were in use between the 1960s (or maybe earlier) and 2014.
If you have a long wait before your train arrives at Hampstead, it is worth wandering to the end of the platform, where you will find the station’s original name, ‘Heath Street’, still on the wall. Today, I disembarked at Warren Street, and noticed that its old name ‘Euston Road’, is still clearly visible at the end of the southbound platform next to its exit.
By 1907, the Northern Line had been extended northward to Golders Green, whose station was opened for passenger use in 1907. It is a long journey between Hampstead and Golders Green stations. An intermediate station near the Bull and Bush pub (on North End Road) was planned. Although the platforms were constructed, they have never been used by passengers, and there is only a small hut on the surface (on Hampstead Way), which contains the entrance to shafts leading down them. Opposition by the founders of Hampstead Garden Suburb and later its residents ensured that the planned ‘North End’ station was never completed.
The Art Nouveau ticket counters at Hampstead station are no longer in use, but they have been beautifully preserved. In each of them, there are information panels detailing the aspects of the station’s history. Other decorative features have been maintained but much of the space in the ticket hall is occupied by the automatic ticket-checking entrance and exit portals. Perched at the top of the High Street, at the point where it meets Heath Street, Hampstead station is an important meeting point and a hard to miss landmark.