A Northern Line train approaches Finchley Central from Mill Hill East on April 20th 2021…

The Mill Hill East branch of the Northern Line is the remnant of the Edgware, Highgate & London Railway’s line to Edgware, which became part of the Great Northern Railway. It was part of the network of lines that connected Finsbury Park to Highgate, Finchley and also High Barnet, often referred to as the ‘Northern Heights Railway’. In 1938, the Northern Line connected to the GNR line at East Finchley and the route was electrified through to High Barnet by 1940 allowing tube trains to provide services to central London. It was originally intended to electrify the Edgware branch from Finchley Central too, but this was temporarily closed at the start WWII. The section to Mill Hill East was reopened in 1941 and electrified to serve Inglis Barracks. After the war, the line beyond Mill Hill East was reopened to freight traffic serving The Hale and Edgware with building materials as London expanded in the post war period. The planned electrification was abandoned though and the line was closed again and the tracks lifted beyond Mill Hill East in 1964.

This view looks across the Dollis Valley from Church End, Finchley. In the photo, the nearest bridge carries the line over Crescent Road in Finchley. Beyond that, the train has just crossed the viaduct over Dollis Brook – this is the highest point above ground level anywhere on the London Underground network, 60ft above the road below and a little more above the bed of the brook. The width of the bridges is indicative that the railway was originally double track. In the distance the line curves past an industrial estate into Mill Hill East Station. Houses on Bittacy Rise nestle in the trees on the horizon.

Catch up with Clare’s Share Your Desktop challenge Here.

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One thing that I have noticed on trips abroad or even on a visit to central London, just down the road so to speak, is that tourists themselves are potentially a good photographic subject when travelling. I am an inveterate street photographer! Capturing the locals as they go about their business is great and can really give an understanding of the atmosphere of a place. Catching the tourists – and they often outnumber the locals at historic sites – can be a rewarding study of human behaviour 🙂

The Forum in Rome is always full of tourists and people selling water (it gets hot down there). As an historically important site it is special but I wonder how many other visitors were surprised like me at how small an area it actually covers? On my first visit I was expecting something on the grand scale of Ben Hur or Quo Vadis. Of course, when you look beyond the Forum and go up to the palaces on the hills around then you start to get a cinematic sense of scale. But down in the bottom of the valley, it all seems rather small. Much here is about the detail – the carvings on individual stones – the inscriptions – because the buildings have long ceased to be imposing, now just shadows of their former grandeur.

As we walked amidst the ruins, admiring those details and trying to avoid spending too much time in direct sun, I came upon these two young ladies posing for each other…

…In many ways they were bringing life to an otherwise dead world. I wonder if they knew they were posing in the Temple of Vesta and the conotations of being a Vestal Virgin? But then I wonder if they were students putting together a portfolio of images for their course. Tourists, like locals, can be fascinating subjects 🙂

I thought long about this challenge from Nancy. I don’t often stumble upon ‘unexpected’ images. However, there is this shot from our visit to Barcelona back in 2017. Taken through the locked gates of the Mercado de la Boqueria, the normally busy stalls are closed with only the pigeons for company…

Then I remembered this from back in 2009……This is a view through one of the wrecked turnstiles into the abandoned Claremont Road football ground, once home of Hendon FC. It tells a tale of falling attendance and the need for investment to maintain league position. There’s an old saying – Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. In modern non-league football that can be paraphrased to ‘Beware of Property Developers offering to help your club’. Hendon were ousted from their home and now groundshare with Edgware. The ground was demolished in 2012 if I remember correctly and is now a housing estate. Hendon were not the first, but hopefully will be one of the last to suffer this fate after a battle last season to save Dulwich Hamlet which saw them return home to their ground mid-season this year after questions were asked in Parliament and the local council stepped in to protect what is a community resource. A set of my shots of the dilapidated Claremont Road ground can be seen here.