It felt very much like trying to find platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross, even though I have never read any of the Harry Potter books. In reality I was trying to find platform 5 at Baker Street tube station. Baker Street is one of the original stations of the Metropolitan Railway and was opened in 1863. Doing a bit of research afterwards, I found the following:
“The station layout is rather complex. The sub-surface station is connected to the open-air Metropolitan line station. This is a terminus for some Metropolitan line trains, but there is also a connecting curve that joins to the Circle line just beyond the platforms that allows Metropolitan line trains to run to Aldgate in the City of London. Below this is a deep-level tube station for the Bakerloo and Jubilee lines. These are arranged in a cross-platform interchange layout and there are connections between the two lines just to the north of the station. Access to the Bakerloo and Jubilee lines is only via escalators.”
I wish I had done this before leaving for a day in the capital back in February. I had seen photographs of the station before and had finally decided that if I was going to tackle it myself, it had better be sooner rather than later. Having spent the morning in Brick Lane, I had moved on to Poplar and then King’s Cross. By the time I reached Baker Street I was exhausted, but I didn’t expect the session to last long. How wrong could I be?
I must have disembarked from one train on platform 4 and as I left I could see directions for platforms 1 to 3 and then 7 through to 10 – 5 and 6 were nowhere to be seen. I scoured the station from one end to the other, but I was still none the wiser. Maybe that will teach me to read up a bit more before leaving home. In desperation I eventually limped back to where I first started and way down at the other end of platform 4, there was a sign to the elusive platforms 5 and 6. For once there were no more steps to tackle, as the entrance was a wide slope curving away to the right. Seconds later I was standing on the platform and my next problem was the almost total absence of light. I knew it would be a challenge, but with the ISO cranked up to 1600 (as high as I dared go with the Sony), I was left with a shutter speed of just 1/10th second. No matter. I had found the location and had to make the best of a bad job. All I needed was an interesting person.
No sooner had that thought crossed my mind when a young woman carrying a guitar case appeared opposite. I followed discreetly, hoping against hope that she would not only sit down, but in a spot devoid of other travellers. Luck was with me and I fired off a few shots with my heart beating wildly. I knew instinctively that this could be a very special image. I just had to keep my head. So here it is, the last image from what had been a very successful trip to London and one of my all time personal favourites.