Category Archives: local interest

Hidden London returns!

London Transport Museum have announced a new run of bookings for their fabulous Hidden London tours, which give the public access to disused stations, platforms and buildings with a connection to the Underground.

I reported back from Charing Cross in March 2016 but have also visited the tours at Aldwych, Euston, Clapham South (former air-raid shelters), 55 Broadway (above St James’s Park Station), Down Street, and Highgate (High Level).

Here is a taster of what to expect on each tour. They are all fascinating in their own way and give an insight into those interesting hidden spaces.

Charing Cross: Access All Areas

Euston: The Lost Tunnels (visited 19th June 2016)

This is the one which should be the top of your list, as both the Drummond Street entrance to the station, and the platforms included in the tour, are included in the space planned for transformation in the work for the new HS2 line.

Disused entrance to Euston Station, Drummond Street
Disused entrance to Euston Station, Drummond Street
1960s posters at Euston Station
1960s posters at Euston Station
Train travel posters at Euston Station
At the top of the steps descending into Euston Station from Drummond Street entrance
At the top of the steps descending into Euston Station from Drummond Street entrance

Clapham South: Subterranean Shelter Tour (visited 14th August 2016)

This is a trip into the deep level shelters utilised both for the Second World War as air-raid shelters, and as accommodation for immigrants during the Windrush generation. Although the shelters are now used for storage and little of the original furnishings are in situ, it is possible to get a sense of the communities which grew below ground.

Steps leading from Clapham South shelter into the main station
Steps leading from Clapham South shelter into the main station
Power board from Clapham South shelter
Power board from Clapham South shelter

Down Street: Churchill’s Secret Station (visited 7th August 2016)

Once a stop on the main Piccadilly line serving well-heeled Mayfair, this station closed in the 1930s and was converted into a set of offices and accommodation for the Prime Minister and civil servants during the Second World War.

Detail of direction sign to Finsbury Park from Down Street station
Detail of direction sign to Finsbury Park from Down Street station
Office accommodation within Down Street station
Office accommodation within Down Street station
Ghost sign of "To the trains" and direction sign to wartime offices at Down Street station
Ghost sign of “To the trains” and direction sign to wartime offices at Down Street station

Highgate: Wilderness Walkabout (visited 3rd September 2017)

Highgate’s high-level station was on the line now known as the Northern Heights walk, between Alexandra Palace and Finsbury Park. It was meant to be electrified and included in the London Underground during the 1940s, but the plans were abandoned during the war. The tunnels at Highgate are now utilised to house bats, and the station is slowly returning to nature.

Platform at Highgate high-level station
Platform at Highgate high-level station
Entrance to former train tunnel, now bat project, at Highgate high-level station
Entrance to former train tunnel, now bat project, at Highgate high-level station
From Highgate high-level station booking hall down to current Highgate station
From Highgate high-level station booking hall down to current Highgate station

55 Broadway: London’s First Skyscraper (visited 9th October 2016)

This is a tour around a couple of floors within the headquarters of London Underground, above St James’s Park station. It includes a trip to the roof of the building with views across London.

Original doors within 55 Broadway
Original doors within 55 Broadway
Train information indicators within reception of 55 Broadway
Train information indicators within reception of 55 Broadway
Staircase in 55 Broadway
Staircase in 55 Broadway

Aldwych: End of the Line (visited 28th June 2014)

I have not visited as part of Hidden London but on one of the earlier themed trips, which give a flavour of the former Piccadilly line station (closed in 1994).

You can find out more about the tours available between April and September 2019 (including a couple of film screenings) at Hidden London.


Welcome to!

About this blog

I started this blog in 2011 to report back on shows I have attended, mainly theatre but also some concerts and sporting events.

It has also become a vehicle for some film, television (current and archive), book reviews, and some more personal pieces.

About me

On a professional level I worked for twenty-five years as a librarian, and also am a published writer and spent five years editing a journal for a major publisher. If you would like to know more, see my LinkedIn profile.

As of 2019 writing and editing has become my main job, and I am very keen to engage with productions, outlets, and arts organisations to expand my coverage and my reviews.

Social media channels

Please feel free to browse through my work on here or via my Twitter feed (@loureviewsblog). I am also developing my YouTube channel | Pinterest | Instagram | Facebook and will be launching a sibling blog to this one to concentrate on DVD releases during 2019.

Contact me

If you feel you have some news or events which would be a good fit for, or would like me to review your show or product, please let me know.

You can contact me at and I will respond to you as soon as I can.

Hanwell Zoo: an appreciation

There’s a quiet corner of the Brent Lodge Park in Hanwell which has some very special residents.

If you have a long memory, you might recall this as the Bunny Park, due to the population of rabbits, and later as the Brent Lodge Animal Centre, which thrived as a small collection of animals, reptiles and birds.

Since April 2017, the Animal Centre has re-branded itself as Hanwell Zoo, and currently boasts residents including rabbits, budgies, wood rails, pygmy goats, kune kune pigs, mara, capybara, lemurs, alpacas, tamarins, porcupines, agoutas, domestic chickens, java sparrows, tortoises, flamingos, ibis, cranes, peacocks, ducks, dwarf mongooses, turkeys, poison frogs, butterflies, a rarely spotted dormouse, and the most recent addition, a small aquarium.

There is a small charge for entry – currently £3.50 for a standard adult ticket – and for repeat visitors, the best value is for an annual pass, at £15.00 for an adult or £10.00 for a child, a senior, or registered disabled.

For those who wish to have more financial involvement with the Zoo, a sponsorship scheme is available to support your favourite resident(s), and the chance to experience the life of a Zookeeper for a Day.


Regular opportunities to “Meet the Meerkats” are available, and occasional opportunities to “Meet the Lemurs” – both are highly recommended for a chance to get closer to the fascinating animals who have made Ealing their home.

There is also a thriving education programme available to schools, especially relating to Key Stages 1 and 2 of the National Curriculum, and a birthday experience can be booked for groups of children.

Let’s take a look at some of the current residents:

mara 2mara 3mara 4

Mara. The oldest residents of the Zoo, who arrived around ten years ago.  These three rodents (Lily, Grace and Lati) have shared their space over the years with wallabies, guinea fowl, and have now settled with …

capybara 1capybara 2

Capybara. These two large rodents (Hydro and Tupi) may be found swimming in the pond on hot days; they arrived in the new South American enclosure in May 2017.

flamingo 1flamingo 2flamingo 3

Flamingos. The flock of twelve birds arrived from Chester Zoo in May 2017, and live happily in the Caribbean area alongside a group of ducks.

meerkat 1meerkat 2meerkat 3

Meerkats. In August 2014, Chico and Kali, two female meerkats arrived from Tilgate Nature Centre in Sussex.  This later grew to a group of six with the addition of Arthur, Stephen, Rex and Titch, although Kali has since passed away.  They are fascinating to watch and interact with from the public viewing area, and share their space with …

porcupine 1

Porcupines. Hatari came to the Zoo in Animal Centre days after being rescued from poor conditions with a broken leg.  He has thrived over the years and with the arrival of Kuchimba, found his perfect mate and has now fathered two sets of porcupettes.  They generally sleep during the day, being nocturnal animals, but you may spot them at opening time or later in the evening.

lemur 1lemur 2lemur 3

Lemurs. These three ring-tailed lemurs are mother and daughters (Tia, Vana and Fi), and are best spotted at feeding time, when they may oblige visitors with a rare appearance!

alpaca 1alpaca 2alpaca 3

Alpaca. The two are members of the camel family, and have very different personalities; you will find that one loves the shade while the other loves to sunbathe.

tamarin 1tamarin 2

Tamarin monkeys.  These three little primates (all females) replaced the long-standing and much-loved resident marmosets in 2017, and are a joy to watch whether feeding, grooming, or exploring their own adventure park.

Hanwell Zoo is a member of BIAZA and participates in a number of international breeding programmes and conservation initiatives.  It remains both friendly and professional, with a real community focus, and a clean, safe and caring environment.

Between April and mid-September the Zoo opens each day from 10am-5pm, and between mid-September to the end of March from 10am-4pm.  There is a playground to keep little visitors happy, and toilets and a small shop on site.  Just outside the perimeter of the Zoo you will find a cafe and picnic area.

Hanwell Zoo can be easily accessed by foot, by bus (10 minutes walk from Drayton Bridge Road), by bicycle, or by car (there is a small, free car park associated with the park, or pay by phone bays).  For more information, visit the website or follow on Facebook or Twitter.

All photos by Louise Penn or Colin Penn, 2017-2018


The Meerkats of Hanwell Zoo

Meet the fabulous meerkat residents of Hanwell Zoo – these little guys are my favourites of all the animals there, and here are some photos I captured of them out in their enclosure today.

I would also recommend meeting them at close quarters in the “Meet the Meerkats” feeding opportunity which is offered regularly on Sunday lunchtimes.

Stay tuned to this blog for a more in-depth look at Hanwell Zoo later in the week.

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