East Finchley Underground
East Finchley Underground Station is serviced by the Northern Line which runs from High Barnet and Edgware to Morden, via Charing Cross and Bank
The local tube station is serviced by the Northern Line which runs from High Barnet and Edgware to Morden, via Charing Cross and Bank
East Finchley Underground Station is topped by a well known statue of an archer by Eric Aumonier in the Art Deco style, and pointing his arrow towards the opening of the tunnel which starts south of the station and runs all the way to the end of the Northern Line at Morden.
This 27.8 km long tunnel was for many years the longest in the world. There was originally an arrow at Morden Station to match the archer at East Finchley, but this was stolen not long after the station was opened.
East Finchley station is the closest station to the northern Northern Line depot at Highgate, and as such is one of the bases for Northern Line train drivers and administrative staff.
East Finchley is one of a minority of stations on the London Underground network where it is necessary to go upwards after passing the ticket gates in order to reach the train platform.
East Finchley Underground - a potted history
East Finchley station was built by the Edgware, Highgate and London Railway (EH&LR) and was originally opened as East End, Finchley on 22 August 1867 by the Great Northern Railway (GNR) (which had taken over the EH&LR) in what was then rural Middlesex. The station was on a line that ran from Finsbury Park to Edgware via Highgate. The station was given its current name in 1886.
After the 1921 Railways Act created the Big Four railway companies, the line was, from 1923, part of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER). The section of the High Barnet branch north of East Finchley was incorporated into the London Underground network through the "Northern Heights" project begun in the late 1930s.
For the introduction of London Underground services, the Victorian station was completely demolished and was rebuilt to an Art Deco/Streamline Moderne design by Charles Holden. As part of the rebuild, the station was provided with two additional platforms, giving four in total . This was necessary as the original intention of the "Northern Heights" project was that trains would be able to run south from East Finchley via two routes. Firstly, over the existing tracks to LNER's Highgate station and onwards to Finsbury Park. Secondly, through newly constructed tunnels running under Highgate station (where a new deep station was built) and onwards to Archway, Camden Town and central London.
The platforms comprise two parallel islands with tracks on both sides. The inner pair of tracks served the 'high level' route to Highgate, whilst the outer pair served the tunnel route. Underground trains first served the station on 3 July 1939 and shared the station with LNER steam trains until 2 March 1941 when that service was discontinued. The inner platforms are now generally used only by trains starting or terminating at East Finchley and those coming from or going to the depot south of the station.
After the war, most of the plans of the "Northern Heights" project were cancelled and the section of the LNER line from East Finchley to Finsbury Park was not incorporated into the Northern Line. Underground trains never ran from East Finchley to Highgate 'high level' station as planned.
The building itself
Like the other stations that Holden designed for London Underground in the 1930s, East Finchley station was at the forefront of British architectural design and took inspiration from European architecture (particularly Dutch) that Holden had seen on trips to the continent during that decade. The track here runs roughly north-west to south-east. The imposing station building, built on rising ground adjacent to the railway bridge over High Road (A1000), has two entrances. The main entrance is at the south-east end of the station. It is on the north-east side of the tracks facing High Road. There is also a smaller, secondary entrance at the north-west end, on the south-west side of the tracks, at the end of an access road called "The Causeway". It is possible to walk through the station from one exit to the other without going onto the platforms.
A strong feature of the station is the semi-circular glazed stairways leading to the enclosed bridge over the tracks occupied by staff offices. These, combined with the station's block-like mass and the narrow deck-like platform buildings, lend the building the atmosphere of a ship. Prominent from the platforms and dominating the main entrance elevation, almost like a ship's figurehead, is a ten-foot tall statue by Eric Aumonier of a kneeling archer captured as if having just released an arrow along the railway line towards central London. (The Archer, a local community newspaper, is named after this landmark). The archer is intended to commemorate Finchley's ancient association with hunting in the nearby Royal Forest of Enfield. There is also a pun, in that it faces towards Archway.