Metroland

I was tidying up the spare room today, dusting and rearranging our books when I came across this little gem. I had completely forgotten that we had this facsimile copy of the 1924 edition of the Metro-land magazine, which was published annually between 1915 and 1932, and advertised the wonders that were happening to the north west of London.

Finding this reminded me that we also had a DVD copy of John Betjeman’s programme from 1973, in which he travelled the lines eulogising about the missed opportunities and lost character that Metroland became, whilst simultaneously celebrating the oddness that he found there.. the organist in his suburban home was my favourite.

Metro-land was an advertising slogan developed by the Metropolitan Railway to entice workers from cramped and dirty homes in Central London out into the rural paradise of Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

In my book, Metroland is depicted as a place of beauty and charm. where the sun always shines. It was perhaps not surprisingly, not much like this. The creation of Metroland destroyed the very thing – open countryside and orchards – which was used to advertise it. The speculative homes thrown up around the new stations bore little resemblances to the Tudor cottages depicted in the advertising materials: most were dreary semis, constructed at great haste and sold cheaply

Needless to say I ended up watching the programme again and reading through the book, much more fun than tidying up…

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