The line from Southgate to Oakwood passes through what was once part of Enfield Chase,…
When the line first opened in 1933, the location was still a rural crossroads, there was Eastpole and Westpole farms, plus a house known as Mayfield. In many ways its still a country crossroads – for the land north of the railway is protected and now known as Trent Country Park.
Oakwood station itself is on the southern side of this crossroads and its platforms stretch southwards, so this helps to keep a sort of balance between what has been developed and what hasn’t. Of course the early views of the station too show its platforms stretching away into what was then purely countryside (as the tweet below illustrates) yet that is no longer the case.
— Art Deco Delights (@ArtDecoDelights) October 8, 2016
Looking at the picture of the platforms from 1933, the seats and the clocks are still visible to this day. The clocks now seem a bit worn for their age, perhaps in view of this being a heritage station more could be done to keep these clean/looking nicer?
The platform clocks from 1933 are still in use.
Are these self winding clocks? I wouldn’t think so. The self-winding clocks seen across quite a large number of tube stations seem to belong to the period prior to the 1930s, especially those lines under the London Electric Railway company, so the LTPB may have moved on and sought various suppliers for their own clocks. This would explain for example, why Arnos Grove and Oakwood have different clock styles altogether.
Oakwood’s platforms are a sort of a cross between Arnos Grove and Cockfosters stations, with elements taken from each to form the final product. As we have seen, the main station buildings were indeed derived from Sudbury Town, so the platforms follow suit in using established examples. That from Cockfosters is adapted with the canopies lifted up at an angle to provide more light. The northern end of Oakwood’s platforms, including the staff facilities and staircases, mimic Arnos Grove.
Both Oakwood and Cockfosters share other commonalities such as the seating areas. Oakwood has these alcoves with glass windows whilst Cockfosters does with a more basic version, that is without the glass wings. The difference being that Cockfosters has substantial cover from the elements whilst Oakwood doesn’t. These little subtle differences show the designers knew what they were doing and they were clearly on the look out for these necessities and how they might be implemented at the various stations along here.
Oakwood station platforms and seats. The LPTB poster screens on the other side of the tracks are very much in evidence.
The poster screens appear to have been restored/cleaned up as part of the station’s heritage. However I would think the remarkable condition of these hoardings is perhaps in fact due to their having been quite lightly used. The large number of hoardings here would have not been quite as economically sustainable compared to Central London locations where entire platform walls are covered in adverts. Photographs of the station when it first opened as Enfield West do show the walls full of adverts. I would think that was probably a bit of an advertising ploy to try and entice companies to put their adverts here and it wasn’t successful.
The once smart circular dropped lights, now rather unkempt, and used at Oakwood tube station are of interest. Whilst they do not seem to have been used on the extension’s other stations, they were curiously also used at the pair of tram stops (six to each stop) built as part of the Manor House tube/tram interchange. It is possible there may have been a surplus of lights which found use at the Manor House tram shelters. These lights too were found at South Harrow although they were removed sometime in the 1990s.
Timetable of night trains scheduled to enter/depart Cockfosters depot.
The other major feature of note is the huge depot immediately north of the station. Its generally known as Cockfosters depot. The tracks fan out underneath the large overbridge towards the west side of the railway and into the depot. The first part of the depot tracks is confusingly known as Oakwood sidings (the depot too known as Oakwood sometimes!)
The depot stretches along the entire west side of the line almost as far as Cockfosters station itself. Whilst trains can, and do, enter the depot from Cockfosters, the general way of doing it is for most trains to begin, or terminate, at Oakwood, and for a very simple reason. Trains can enter or leave the depot directly at Oakwood whilst those at Cockfosters have to reverse. For this reason the access tracks at Cockfosters have been rationalised. This means if trains need to enter the actual depot for servicing they must arrive in Cockfosters platform one and so the more trains that start/end at Oakwood the better.
Oakwood’s white lettering on black background station sign.
On a final note, there’s a little puzzle about Oakwood station. As many of us will know the standard colours used to depict station names on the canopies is white against a blue background. Yet Oakwood along with Cockfosters instead sport white lettering with black background.
Arnos Grove has it too – but only on the platforms as do a couple of other tube stations around the network. Yet there seems to be no explanation for both Oakwood and Cockfosters having their main station names rendered with black backgrounds. Even the original, Enfield West as I find, used a black background too. Perhaps it was an experiment in the same sense as the unsuccessful tryout of Sudbury Town’s station name being lit up in neon?