London’s Invisible Station
Ask any dozen Londoners where Fenchurch Street Station is and you’ll get a different answer from each of them. It’s not connected to the tube system and serves the East coast, not a hot destination in anyone’s mind, although its tiny platforms are very busy because a lot of city workers commute to the coast.
And it goes to gangland playground Southend-on-Sea. I have strange recollections of being dragged around the Kursaal (est. 1901) in Southend (home of the world’s longest pier) as a child. Why their local fairground should be named after a German funfair is a mystery.
I’m talking to a writing class at the coast on Monday, so I’ll need to start from Fenchurch Street. It was the first station to be constructed inside the City of London, and is one of the four stations to be represented on the Monopoly board. It’s used for filming because it’s relatively unspoiled, and the character name Fenchurch came from it – it’s used in books by Jerome K Jerome and Douglas Adams.
I’ll be ending up here, in the ‘Blackpool of the South’. This part of the East coast is less visited by central Londoners because you have to cross the capital before your journey there really starts. This coming year, though, I’ll be concentrating more on visiting grass-roots venues to talk to writers and doing less mingling at major festivals, where one really only gets to talk to industry folk. I hope I’ll get to see some parts of the country I’ve not seen before.