Frank Brown is hanging up his LU hat. Frank, who has been a familiar face around Chorleywood Station for 26 years where he has been working as station supervisor, is one of 800 station staff who have opted for voluntary severance as part of London Underground’s Fit for the Future plan
“All ticket offices are closing and station supervisors will be no more.” says Frank, “There is less need for sales contact these days with Oyster cards and contactless barrier access through debit cards and phones so LU are changing staff roles and with that comes the option to take a package. There will still be a Customer Services Manager around the station concourse and platform to help customers with queries and any issues at ticket machines and gates.”
Frank has mixed feelings about leaving
“ Chorleywood Station has been part of my life for so long. Commuting can be a drudgery so it’s good to be able to help people out or just exchange a few words. It’s always fun to spot famous people. Johnny Speight who wrote Till Death Us do Part lived in Heronsgate (he died in the late 90s) and actor Jack Smethurst (best known for Love Thy Neighbour in the 70s) used the train regularly. Both were involved with TV series that are now considered politically incorrect but both are so talented and the programmes were great. Jack still lives locally and always takes time to say Hello. Michael Portillo would come back and fore visiting his mother – I am a great fan of his Great Railway Journeys series! He signed a DVD for a colleague who was giving it as a Christmas present. During the early 1970’s the late Sir John Betjemen filmed ‘Metro-land’ pausing at Chorleywood before continuing on past Amersham to Aylesbury, today served by Chiltern Railways. As for pop music, we have 60s folk singer Julie Felix and brilliant musician Paul Carrack, I had the cheek once to ask to be put on his guest list! I know all his back catalogue so was over the moon. I have been to many of his gigs since. I really like being part of a station on the Met Line which has so much history. I love the traditional big enamel station name roundel signs, we are very lucky to have them, they replaced most with plastic signs but we managed to hang on to ours. It is part of Chorleywood’s heritage!”
The Metropolitan Railway (now the Metropolitan Line) opened our station on July 8, 1889 and named it Chorley Wood. Then on November 1, 1915 it became Chorley Wood & Chenies and in 1934 it went back to the original name Chorley Wood. The Urban District Council however had been writing it as Chorleywood for some time, having adopted the name in 1913, although the station sign wasn’t switched to Chorleywood until 1964. Everybody was in agreement in the end though. So for now Chorleywood, it is – one word one breath, unless it’s changed again in future.
“There have been all sorts of incidents over the years although I haven’t seen them all. I have rescued a few dogs though ! There was a bad fire in 1980 (4am, 18 March) which completely gutted the buildings on the southbound platform.”
The fire destroyed the waiting room, mess room and ticket office and caused around £50,000 damage. A dog raised the alarm and was later given an award!
“On Easter Sunday in 1979 a sudden hot spell caused a long rail just north of Chorleywood to buckle and a train coming from Amersham de-railed with wheels from the leading car ending up in the ballast.
I am not a train spotter as such but you can’t help appreciating the steam trains that come through from time to time. And we were all sad to see the A stock Met trains go – the last one left Chorleywood on 26th September, 2012 after fifty years of service. There was a special charity rail tour a few days later with all sorts of memorabilia sold. 2013 was our 150 year anniversary and all staff were given a wonderful coffee table book called Underground, How the Tube Shaped London as a present.”
Frank finishes at Chorleywood station in late June 2106 but it wont be his last shift on local transport in Chorleywood…look out for him on Carousel Buses route 336 where he has taken on some part time work!
Underground, How the Tube shaped London, David Bownes, Oliver Green, Sam Mullins, Allen Lane, £25, Chorleywood Bookshop
Photo © Purpix Photography