Bank Station gets a fair bit of stick from Londoners, all things considered. It topped a poll by YouGov last year for the most hated tube station, which I would imagine is due to its complexity. If you include Monument as part of the wider complex, it is served by no less than five Underground lines, as well as the DLR. The various lines are linked by a confusing network of escalators. Shortly after I first moved to London, we managed to lose one of my friends in the station for the best part of an hour as they used the lift but we had no idea where the lift came out!
Bank Station first opened as ‘City’, on the Waterloo and City Railway. Up until 1994, the Waterloo and City Line was considered part of the British Rail Network but was sold to London Underground for the nominal fee of £1 as part of rail privatisation. The Waterloo and City platforms are also served by the only vertical travelator on the whole network, which in my eyes redeems the station somewhat!
The City and South London Railway arrived in 1900 – the chief engineer for that project, James Henry Greathead is commemorated with a statue by the station. His invention, the travelling shield, made the construction of the deep level tube lines possible The Central London Railway service also started later that year. The most recent addition, the DLR platforms, opened in 1991.
The City and South London Railway ticket hall was built on the site of the crypt of the church of St Mary Woolnoth, which is still standing. Until a major refurbishment of the station in the 1990s that ticket hall still had a distinctly crypt feel to it, as a photo in Andrew Martin’s excellent book ‘Underground, Overground’, shows clearly.
The Pub: Jamaica Wine House, St. Michael’s Alley, Cornhill, EC3V 9DS
Heading up from Bank Station onto Cornhill, the Jamaica Wine House is down the narrow St. Michael’s Alley, one of those typical narrow passageways you find at the heart of the city. The building looks very historic from the exterior, which is perhaps not surprising considering it dates from 1652 when it was London’s first coffee house. Its own website states that Samuel Pepys, Londoner and diary extraordinaire, used to frequent it.
The interior is also suitably traditional. The downstairs is divided into sections with plenty of wood panelling throughout. As a Shepherd Neame pub, the first I think I’ve visited on the trail so far, you get their usual selection of ales such as Spitfire and Master Brew. We visited at what must be its peak time, 5pm on a Friday so it was pretty busy with workers from the nearby banks and other businesses. There is also a more modern looking wine bar upstairs, but we stuck in the pub area.
I really liked The Jamaica Wine House. To me, it is a great example of the kind of traditional pubs which really add something to both the character and spirit of life in London. It is certainly worth a visit, but bear in mind like much else in this area, it is closed at weekends!