There's the Sphinx!

A good question. A few years ago I had an excellent holiday in Egypt with my kids, Conor and Aisling. We took the sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor and, sometime during that night, Conor and I hit on the plan to photograph every station in London. “Gosh”, I thought, “what a fabulous place to start a story.” Well, OK, that thought only occurred to me now but still, starting this tale on the night train to Luxor is not bad is it? So we decided it would make a good wheeze and set about trying to put some parameters around the task. First we had to decide what is London? There are a lot of different definitions – we decided on the area bounded by the M25 (with some caveats). Then we had to decide what we meant by a station. We batted this one around half the night and didn’t quite make up our minds whether to include trams but we did agree to include everything else – tubes, trains, light railways, super high speed railways: every station in London really. And, trams don’t stop at stations they stop at stops (like buses).

Intrepid Snappers

So there was the birth of the idea. When we got back to London we set about the job by heading out along the Northern Line with our cameras one Saturday morning in August. Conor thought we could probably finish by Christmas. I thought maybe a year was a realistic target. That was about two and a half years ago and Conor has long since grown out of such childish obsessional behaviour; leaving the task to the old man. I have taken a fairly leisurely approach doing a bit every now and again as the mood takes me, becoming more driven sometimes and pretty much forgetting about it at others. As the number of stations ‘in the bag’ has begun to accumulate I find the sense of momentum pushes me along to do more. It is a pretty big task. I haven’t worked out how many stations there are altogether (on the basis that I will know definitively once I have finished anyway). There are about 270 stations on the Tube and, I would guess, maybe about the same again on the various other networks. At the time of writing I have photographed about 100 in total and posted maybe 40 on here. So there is a way to go and, no doubt, I may adjust this entry to reflect my progress.

That then is where the idea started and how the job got underway. But this doesn’t really answer the why of it all. There is the obvious, ‘because it’s there’ answer which is probably a reasonably good response, as informative as anything else. But let me try to dig a little deeper into my own motivation and see if I can find anything that makes sense.

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