Object of the Month: July 2020

1 July 2020

Belsize Park Underground Station was opened on 22 June 1907 by the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway. It was designed by Leslie William Green (1875-1908) along with various other stations including Hampstead and Chalk Farm. This grille from our collection, which sat above the entrance to Lift No.3, is a classic example of Green’s Art Nouveau style which was at its height between 1890 and 1910. Following French architect Viollet-de-Luc’s advocation for the display of metal framework rather than its concealment, ironwork became a quintessential feature of the movement, often depicting floral or vegetal forms.

It is interesting to reflect on the development of London’s transport system over time and how these familiar stations have reflected artistic trends. In the 1980s, many of Green’s stations underwent refurbishments, resulting in the loss of design elements such as this grille. 
In July 2011, Belsize Park Underground Station became a Grade II listed building. According to Historic England, Green’s stations ‘illustrate a remarkable phase in the development of the capital's transport system, with the pioneering use of a strong and consistent corporate image; the characteristic ox-blood faience façades are instantly recognisable and count among the most iconic of London building types.’
Once it is safe to return to our normal lifestyles, perhaps you can watch out for signs of Green’s handiwork when you visit the Underground – you might even notice his influence in the design of BBC’s EastEnders’ Walford East Underground station!
For an insightful exploration of Green’s surviving design elements, the Edwardian tiles follow this link