London’s Invisible Station

Great Britain, London


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.

12 comments on “London’s Invisible Station”

  1. John Howard says:

    OK, I know its random but this piece has me now reaching for the old Kursaal Flyers L.P’s with perhaps a bit of Dr Feelgood thrown in for good measure.

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    Glad to see you are moving in on your stated goal of working with writers. You certainly have the handouts in stock. And I’m sure you will do a bang up presentation.

  3. jan says:

    i love Fenchurch street station and that little area its in is quite interesting lots of blue plaques….. isn’t there a restaurant of some historical interest nearby and your’e near the sites of importance for the very very interesting Hanseatic league(now that would be a real tie up with Kursaal funfair!)

  4. Andy Woods says:

    RE: ‘I hope I’ll get to see some parts of the country I’ve not seen before’
    Well you would always be welcome up here in the ‘grim’ north, Lancaster –
    Bryant & May venturing way out of the capital, visiting or investigating a relative’s mystery or death, Idea for Book 11 ?

  5. Helen Martin says:

    I always wondered if Fenchurch had actually been a church in the fens and I still don’t know. With the internet only a click away you’d think I could do that, wouldn’t you. Perhaps I will and discover whether that train-looking vehicle is a streetcar or a train.

  6. Helen Martin says:

    No help on Fenchurch origin but the vehicle is a pier train and it costs 2lb to ride it. I hope there are lots of things to do out at the end.

  7. admin says:

    I hope it doesn’t cost 2lb to ride it as lbs are a weight measure are it would mean lugging a bag of flour with me or something!

  8. Dan Terrell says:

    In the States with 4 lbs of flour, some water, and a bit of kneading you’d have a lot of “dough”. A lot of “dough” is always welcome. Only semi-Deep American, right?

  9. Helen Martin says:

    Admin – if I want to reference the monetary pounds I have to do “insert symbol” and so on and I can’t even find an “insert” command so I use the abbreviation for pound weights, which you recognize as pounds I notice. I’ll bet the number four on your keyboard has a pound (monetary) symbol as its capital.
    Dan, you couldn’t resist, could you? No one could and Admin just handed it to you. I’d add some yeast,a bit of salt, and some shortening if that’s bread dough and then we’ll have bread as well as dough or at least our dough will have turned into bread. I’m not sure whether bread is more valuable than dough, but if there is enough interest it might make a difference.

  10. John Howard says:

    Semi Deep, Dan, but a nice one all the same..

  11. glasgow1975 says:

    Actually Helen the 4 is a $ it’s the 3 that’s a £, the 4 is also the € tho:)

  12. FabienneT says:

    Hi, Mr Fowler! I will be on this course in Southend and on my schedule, it says that you’re supposed to come and talk to us on Tuesday morning! Really looking forward to hear what you have to say to us…

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