It was the original decree of the London Underground that many of its station entrances be fashioned in a familiar bold deep purple design of outstanding character. The tiling and fittings of the age are today a recognisable and happy indicator to the location of the tube which as ever is the centerpiece of any town. No wonder that Camden's favourite sons, Madness, took the stations forecourt image to adorn their most memorable album sleeve.
How horrific to learn that the station and shops and ancient ballroom are to be layed waste just to go for extra-capacity for what is now, thru its own success, an area of attractive tourist trappings. But here again, one does ask: How much one should destroy ones environment and heritage to cater for the increase in people? Where does it stop? And what for the future, what if the area returns to residential? Its a hideous mistake to vandalize London's architecture in preference for a Theme Park mentality. These places have to stay as they are, with the original architecture, and become self regulating.
The authorities foolishly respond to fads and novelty, and then wreck the charm of any neighbourhood they mess with. The prime example is Carnaby Street, once like Camden, now, sterilized and deadly dull, thanks to naive government interference. As ever, they have an extremely misled reaction to latest trends. And their childish answer to increase people capacity is to bulldozer everything into extinction.
I think, as a whole, most tourist magnets are self regulatory. People will stay away from grid-locked crowds, or at least follow the guidelines, like Camden's ever increasing station restrictions. Theres no need to turn the tube station into Heathrow Terminal Three. Its amazing that only several hundered yards away, úzillions have been spent on preserving old Mornington Crescent Tube, and yet with Camden Tube the prospected redesign is based only on a utter and complete flattening, replacing the landmark with a hideous monolith, in a design more in common with a supermarket.
What a shambles. A century-old creation condemned to dust. A major throughfare scarred and mutilated. When are they going to wake up to the fact that you cannot just wade in and wreck all of london's beautiful landmarks just to cater for an endless increase in humans. How far do they dare go? Camden's victorian tube architecture is brilliant, and should be preserved in its entirety for all time, but I think these town planners will destroy absolutely anything for their own self satisfaction, so the outlook for dear old Camden Tube Station looks mighty grim.
Update 2006: Plans were halted for the time being. Who knows what devilish political standoffs are at play, for these things have a tendency to never go away completely - especially if there is big big money involved. We are waiting on this one.
Charles (from London Town)