A slightly grubby little gem designed by T Phillip Figgis in 1890 and the only surviving station of the original City & South London Railway, the world’s first underground electric railway and London’s first genuine tube line. The domes on the C & SLR stations, and similar later ones, were not just for effect but were used to house the lift machinery. Kennington Station is a bit of a ‘poor man’s’ Camden Town with the old Northern Line complexity re-emerging here as the City and Charing Cross branches join up again. When the Battersea Park extension is built, as for the time being looks quite likely, Kennington will become just as complicated as Camden Town with two possible routes each for south and northbound trains. Meanwhile it stays as underprivileged relation. Then again as a fully naturalised North Londoner I tend to see everything in South London as a half-baked simulacrum of the real thing north of the river. I gather these days that South London has much to boast of in its own right. And, in fact, as a station, Kennington leaves the rest of the Northern Line standing (if you’ll excuse the pun). Note the rather nice clock from the Self Winding Clock Company of New York. Self-winding clocks alleviated an obvious headache for Underground staff. The winding was achieved by applying a current from time to time to tighten a spring. As far as I know they are now battery powered.
Here’s an oddity: while I was looking for information about the Singapore MRT system I discovered that the Bootsnall independent travellers website rates Kennington as the 9th of 15 most beautiful subway stops in the world, knocking the very handsome and striking Changi Airport stop in Singapore into 10th place. Now, Kennington is indeed noteworthy but, I’m sure you agree, it isn’t exactly beautiful. Looking more closely at bootsnall’s top fifteen I noticed that they had illustrated the entry for Kennington with, as far as I can tell, a photograph of escalators at London Bridge. Something has definitely gone awry. I have left a comment suggesting that if they do decide to correct this I would nominate Gants Hill as London’s most beautiful and a worthy contender for the top fifteen.