Walking the Circle Line

On Saturday 21st November, a group of students and staff from Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc) is walking the entire length of the London Underground’s (inner) Circle Line over ground to raise money to help NewVIc students join some amazing international projects in partnership with Raleigh International in Borneo, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Nicaragua or Nepal next summer. Many NewVIc students have already benefited from these transformational experiences overseas and 2016 promises to be the project’s most ambitious year ever. But without some additional support, these opportunities would be beyond our students’ budgets and the college’s resources.

First we need to get the walk done and you can follow our progress and join in with our Circle Line quiz at every stop by following #circlelinewalk or my feed @eddieplayfair on twitter throughout the day.

The Circle Line (yellow on the tube map) is no longer strictly speaking circular, since 2009 its route has been more of a spiral starting at Hammersmith and looping round the inner circle to finish at Edgware road. So it’s no longer possible to spend the day on a Circle Line train going round over and over again.

We’re only walking the inner circle, a distance of about 17 miles, from Liverpool Street and back again. This will mean passing 27 stations, most of which are in the City of London, City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, there are 2 stops in London borough of Camden, one on the edge of Islington and two on the edge of Tower Hamlets. It therefore serves among the richest parts of our city while also avoiding the ‘West End’ central shopping district. It connects many of London’s main line rail termini and is one of the few tube lines which shares all its stations with other lines.

The first section was opened in 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon as the Metropolitan Railway and the Circle Line was first shown as a separate line in 1949. The line carries over 114 million passenger journeys per year.

London is a city of great wealth, but also of great inequality. Average life expectancy in the areas near Circle line stations ranges from 79 around King’s Cross and Euston Square to 91 around Bayswater and the small sections in Islington and near Tower Hamlets pass through some of the most deprived areas of London as measured by the levels of child poverty.

London is one of the most diverse places in the world. At the Eastern fringe of the City, where our walk begins, the most common family names are Rahman, Hussain and Khanom, reflecting the Bangladeshi heritage of many of the people living in Tower Hamlets. Passing through the City and into Westminster, Robinson and Williams become more common with Chan putting in an appearance in part of Kensington. Moving across towards Bayswater, Paddington and Baker Street, we also find Patel, Malik and Harris, Jones, Ahmed, Edwards and Johnson…one way of mapping central London’s diversity.

Another interesting way to map diversity is to ask what the most spoken language other than English is by tube station used. For the Circle Line, French predominates around many stations, Arabic around Paddington/Edgware Road and Chinese around Westminster/Embankment/Temple. Bengali appears as the second most spoken language around Aldgate/Tower Hill and also around King’s Cross/Euston Square.

Maps of London’s inequalities and its diversity are available via the Mapping London site. The Londonist site also has many different versions of the tube map including one which suggests alternative names for every station, some of which more appropriate than the current ones!

The Circle Line has inspired a collection of stories From Here to Here (2005) which celebrates our diverse, cosmopolitan city and was dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attacks of 7th July 2005. It also inspired Heads and Straights by Lucy Wadham (2013) in the Penguin Underground Lines series. This is an autobiographical tale of bohemians, punk, family and the King’s road in the 1970’s.

We hope you enjoy following the progress of our hardy explorers around the Circle Line and that you have a go at our twitter quiz. Please also consider sponsoring us to help cover the costs of sending NewVIc students to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Borneo, Tanzania or Nepal in the summer of 2016.

See also:

A Circle Line Quiz (November 2015)

Learning by walking about (November 2015)


About Eddie Playfair

I am a Senior Policy Manager at the Association of Colleges (AoC) having previously been a college principal for 16 years and a teacher before that. I live in East London and I blog in a personal capacity about education and culture. I also tweet at @eddieplayfair
This entry was posted in NewVIc and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Walking the Circle Line

  1. nivekd says:

    Fantastic. Good luck and enjoy. You will all needs warm clothing ; we are briefly down from Liverpool on a theatre visit (so no walking gear) and awoke to snow. The play was Waste. No comment. Kevin


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s