The West London Tube Station Conundrum

Turnham Green Church on one cold and creepy foggy January evening.

Greetings humanoids!

One of the things that has intrigued me for quite a while is this strange supernatural phenomenon that seems to have befallen West London decades ago but no one seems to care / give a ‘flying lizard humping a crab in the air’ about. Allow me to elaborate…

I have been inhabiting this part of Londinium for long enough now to know what airline is hovering above my head purely based on the time of the day and sound of the engine (and I pseudo-support a 3rd Heathrow runway). And this breadth of experience as a West Londoner, as handy as it is in day to day life, means that I do indeed spend most the time in the shower thinking of this particular conundrum.

Keep this map as a reference, you’ll need it as I ramble along (click on each place-mark for more info).

Let us start from the beginning and introduce several lemmas directly correlating to the map above.

Lemma 1: Turnham Green station was named after Tunham Green the park
Lemma 2: Chiswick Park station was named after Chiswick Common
Lemma 3: Chiswick Park the business park (a dystopian Orwellian-esque village like place), was name after Chiswick Park station
Lemma 4: Gunnersbury station was named after Gunnersbury Park

Now according to a Freedom of information request by some awesome individual back in 2008, Tfl responded with this extremely informative spreadsheet outlining the distance between every two outstanding stations on all ‘London Underground’ lines. Couple that with my out of this orbit spreadsheet data skills, I was able to calculate the average distance between any two stations on the same line, and it turned out to be 1.31km (0.81 miles).

District Line – West London

If we were to follow the natural sequence of stations on the two branches of the district lines (picture above), it would go like this:

Ealing Broadway branch (westbound w/ distance):

TURNHAM GREEN CHISWICK PARK 0.95
CHISWICK PARK ACTON TOWN 1.22
ACTON TOWN EALING COMMON 1.03
EALING COMMON EALING BROADWAY 1.50

Richmond Branch (westbound w/ distance):

TURNHAM GREEN GUNNERSBURY 1.59
GUNNERSBURY KEW GARDENS 1.71
KEW GARDENS RICHMOND 2.14

Taking into consideration the average distance mentioned above it would seem that the distance between Turnham Green and Chiswick Park is indeed rather strange, could it be that Chiswick Park was never meant to be there? Was it a fluke?

The station was opened in July 1879 whereas Turnham Green station came 10 years before that in 1869!

Confused? So am I. Let’s solve this b*tch:

It turns out that it was not ‘Turnham Green’ that is at fault for causing all this solid and extremely life changing confusion. It was actually ‘Chiswick Park’, which in it’s early days was actually named ‘Acton Green’, in reference to the adjacent park. Taking into consideration that Turnham Green was the only station serving the area 10 years earlier, it just made a whole lot of sense that it was named after what then was the closest church and park (because people have like little imagination sometimes).

Gunnersbury Manor

This brings us to our final piece of the puzzle, Gunnersbury. This was quite strange, because for quite a while it was evident to everyone living on the west side of Chiswick that Gunnersbury was really the park and the park took it’s name after the manor (later turned museum) on the site. So how can a park, roughly a mile away, closer to Acton Town and Kew Bridge give its name to Gunnersbury? The answer is we just don’t know, but what is now known is that the station actually opened as ‘Brentford Road station’, in a clear reference to what is now Chiswick High Street which on a straight path will probably take you straight to Brentford (or Sao Paolo, if you make it to Heathrow and sneak on a plane).

So there you go my minions, hours spent in the shower, flying my own rocket and even cleaning my own dishes pondering over this conundrum have finally yielded a result. Eureka!

Edit (February 2016): I have now moved away from West London to somewhere else (no longer sharing due to fear of Tim Cook giving my location data away). As such I am no longer an expert on all things West London and would not recommend you take the analysis above as conclusive. In 4 years, Chiswick has probably changed (right?) and so everything above makes no sense. Whatever.

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