[Source: Nick Catford]
As relatively early photographs go, this example of Uxbridge Vine Street from circa 1919 is quite good. The trainshed roof is starting to look a little shabby, unsurprising given the damaging effects of steam locomotive exhausts to woodwork, and would be removed in 1923 and replaced by a platform canopy with the exception of the innermost end over the circulating area - such as it was. The casement type gas lamps would also disappear, replaced by suspended types. Another, identical, gas lamp stands on the dock on the left and the dock itself was also to see change with the alterations of 1923 onwards. Surviving records of the GWR steam railmotors are incomplete. The railmotors shedded at Southall are known to have operated to Brentford and Paddington, also the Uxbridge High Street branch, but no record survives of them ever working the Vine Street branch so we are left wondering if the vehicle at the Down platform is a railmotor or an autotrain. The shadows on the platform suggest, however, that it is an autotrain. The vehicle would have worn Crimson Lake livery and there is a number below the central windscreen but it is unreadable. The train on the right is at first glance unremarkable but a close examination reveals round-topped doors, some of which are open further along the platform as passengers alight. The train is formed of four (First) and five (Third) compartment Holden stock, this being the stock used on the Great Western's through trains to and from the Metropolitan Railway and, more specifically, the Middle Circle services.As with the Metropolitan's own stock, the round-topped door design was intended to reduce damage should a door be opened in the tunnels. The stock was formed into sets, thirteen in total, and vehicles were 26ft long, First, Third and Brake Third, with Seconds being 24ft long and all were four wheelers dating from 1887 (this is the generally accepted date but sources vary, perhaps out of confusion with the previous broad gauge stock and standard gauge square-topped door stock). The services this stock worked were discontinued in 1905 and the stock was transferred to other duties, hence the appearance at Uxbridge. Several of these vehicles finished up in South Wales where they lasted into the 1940s. None are known to survive. Among the goods vehicles at far left is a Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway open wagon and a ventilated van of uncertain origin, probably for milk traffic. An explanation of 'Middle Circle' might be of benefit to some readers. The service ran from Mansion House via the District Railway to Earl's Court, then to Latimer Road via the West London Railway and then Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Railways to the City. The City terminus was variously Aldgate or what were then Moorgate Street, Bishopsgate and Aldersgate Street. The latter three are now Moorgate, Liverpool Street and Barbican respectively. There was, too, an Outer Circle operated by the LNWR, the route being via the North London Railway from Broad Street to Willesden Junction, then variously to Earl's Court, Victoria or Mansion House. It was to last until 1940, by then reduced to a Willesden - Earl's Court shuttle. In addition there was also the Midland Railway's rendition of an Outer Circle, from St. Pancras to Earl's Court via Cricklewood and South Acton but this was to last a mere two years, 1878 - 1880. With a Middle and Outer Circle there must of course have been an Inner Circle and indeed there was; it is today London Underground's Circle Line and the sole survivor of the various 'Circle' services as well as being the only one which runs in a true circle, or at least did until the changes to service pattern introduced by LUL in 2009.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection