Project Piccadilly

A strictly personal survey of the Piccadilly line, with a suggestion for the revival and extension of the Aldwych branch.

INTRODUCTION

This post is associated with my “London Station by Station” series. I was gratified by the response that overview of the Hammersmith and City line received, and so now I am producing a piece about the Piccadilly line which will be much longer, as there is is much more to say…

AN OVERVIEW

The Piccadilly line came into existence as a compromise project taking elements from three distinct schemes. An excellent explanation for this is provided by Desmond F. Croome in his “The Piccadilly Line: An Illustrated History”

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Still, not event the combination of this bizarre origin and the schemozzle at Heathrow gains the Piccadilly line the status of  London Underground’s no 1 bodge job – for more about that you will have to wait until I feel strong enough to tackle the Northern line!

To give you an overview of the line both in its history and as it stands today here a some images…

The Piccadilly line on London Underground: A Diagrammatic History.
The Piccadilly line on London Underground: A Diagrammatic History.
The Piccadilly line and its connections today (photographed from the current edition of the London Connections map)
The Piccadilly line and its connections today (photographed from the current edition of the London Connections map)
A facsimile of a promotional poster for the Piccadilly line.
A facsimile of a promotional poster for the Piccadilly line.

Having set the scene, it is time to strap yourselves in for…

THE JOURNEY

I am starting slightly out of position, for reasons that will reveal themselves at the end of the post, with Southgate, which I have given a previous post in the series. For full details you will need to read that post, but Southgate has two features of significance to me: it was the home of the Walker brothers, and in that context Middlesex still play some games of cricket at the Walker ground; and it is home to quirk illustrated by this picture…

Light at the end of Tunnel

That attended to, we can now get back on the journey proper starting at…

COCKFOSTERS

This station opened in 1933, and still today it is in a very rural setting. Other than being the starting point for our journey it has no real distinguishing  features.

ARNOS GROVE

In the direction in which we travel, this marks a transition point – this is the last station at surface level until we emerge at Barons Court.

WOOD GREEN

This is one of two stations, the other being a main line railway station, Alexandra Palace, which serve Alexandra Palace. Whichever you choose you have a long climb ahead of you to reach your objective, although it is worth it for the views at the end. This picture, courtesy of google, shows some of the frontage of the palace itself…

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FINSBURY PARK

This is the Piccadilly line’s first interchange with any other in our direction of travel. As well as a connection to mainline railways, there is a cross-platform interchange to the Victoria line. It was also the original terminus at this end of the line when the Piccadilly line opened in 1907. Because it was after I had made this particular change in reverse that I got the picture in question, here is a Piccadilly route map as seen in train carriage…

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ARSENAL

The only station on London Underground to be named after a football club. The club which started life as Dial Square, changed its name to Woolwich Arsenal, of which it was originally the works team and then moved away from Woolwich, dropping the prefix of its name has since moved yet again, to another new stadium. Herbert Chapman who had earlier won three successive championships with Huddersfield Town and even earlier been lucky to survive a match fixing scandal that saw his then club Leeds City thrown out of the league was the person who successfully suggested the name change from the original Gillespie Road, with greater success than Mr Selfridge had enjoyed with his suggestion to the then independent Central London Railway that they might care to rename Bond Street station in honour of his establishment.

KINGS CROSS

I have covered this both in an individual post and in the earlier piece about the Hammersmith and City line. To these I add only that the Piccadilly line is the second deepest line at the station, the Northern line being deeper.

RUSSELL SQUARE

Russell Square is one of the few deep level stations to have no escalators – you have a choice between lifts or stairs. It is also the closest station to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where I was a patient for over a year of my life, in my case in the Mildred Creak unit. For more details about how to locate this hospital, check out their own guide.

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Russell Square also serves the iconic British Museum, and they also provide full detail on possible ways of getting there.

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One final Russell Square connection – it is the home station for the Institute of Education, which is a regular venue for the annual five-day political festival Marxism and also happens to the place that I visited the first time I ever took part in an Autism Research project – this one being carried out by a woman named Sian Fitzpatrick.

Clark Hall at the Institute of Education, set up for a meeting, appropriately enough on education.
Clark Hall at the Institute of Education, set up for a meeting, appropriately enough on education.
The picture that adorns the wall of Clarke Hall.
The picture that adorns the wall of Clarke Hall.
The artists signature.
The artists signature.

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HOLBORN

This station is the only official interchange between the Piccadilly and Central lines. When I first used it as a child there were wooden escalators – mind this was in an era when deep-level tube trains using carriages with maple slatted floors and wooden side panels had smoking compartments – health and safety was not considered so important then. Today, Holborn is an ordinary mid-route station, but that was not always the case, and I believe it should not be the case. This is the preamble to…

A MAJOR DIGRESSION

From 1907 until 1994 there was a branch running south from Holborn to Aldwych. It was not doing much by the end of its life, but closure was not the only option – it was ideally placed for an extension into Southeast London and West Kent. I have already linked to the post I put up about Aldwych early on in this series, but in that post I did not give details of my envisaged extension, an omission I rectify as part of this project.

Reestablishing the Aldwych connection, the route would then go:

Blackfriars (District, Circle, mainline railways), London Bridge (Northern – Bank branch, Jubilee, mainline railways), Bermondsey (Jubilee), Surrey Quays (London Overground), Mudchute (DLR), Cutty Sark (DLR), Greenwich Park, Blackheath (mainline railways), Eltham High Street, New Eltham, Longlands, Sidcup High Street, Foots Cray, Ruxley, Hockenden, Crockenhill, Hulberry, Eynsford (mainline railways), Maplescombe, West Mingsdown, Fairseat, Vigo Village, Ditton, Maidstone West (mainline railways), Maidstone East (mainline railways).

The Maidstone connection is important because very isolated ends of lines can end up not getting much use (see Ongar in this series), and by extending it the extra distance to have both the interchanges in and population of Maidstone to bolster its usage one increases the likelihood of it working. The other particularly significant stop in the outer reaches of the extension is Eynsford, not major enough to be a suitable terminus, but definitely has much worth visiting, led by the scenic Darent Valley and the historic Roman Villa down the road at Lullingstone.

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BACK TO THE JOURNEY

The digression done, it is time to resume our progress along the Piccadilly, which next takes us to…

COVENT GARDEN

I have already covered this area at some length in a previous post to which I now direct you. What I failed to mention in that post is that there is also a quite pleasant walking route from here to Waterloo, and all the attractions I have listed in that post.

LEICESTER SQUARE

This station has a connection to the Northern line (Charing Cross branch). Also, until the refurbishment of Angel (Northern, Bank branch) it had the longest escalators to be found anywhere on the system. At 0.16 miles apart it and Covent Garden are the two closest neighbours on the entire system. Leicester Square serves an area of London known as Chinatown.

PICCADILLY

The station that gives its name to the line, it has an interchange with the Bakerloo line. Piccadilly is home to the Eros statue. It features in at least two series of novels set in Restoration England, Edward Marston’s Redmayne series and Susannah Gregory’s Chaloner series.

GREEN PARK

Interchanges with the Victoria and Jubilee lines.

HYDE PARK CORNER

One of several stations serving London’s largest park. This is also the local station for the Albert Hall.

SOUTH KENSINGTON

Museum central – see the first post in this series for more detail. Also, the point at which one the projects that were fused together to make the Piccadilly line – a plan for a ‘deep level District’ line to ease congestion on the original District – from here to Earls Court the Piccadilly follows the District exactly, then skips West Kensington, joining the District at the surface at Barons Court. After Hammersmith the Piccadilly runs fast to Acton Town while the district has intermediate stops at Ravenscourt Park, Stamford Brook, Turnham Green and Chiswick Park. Occasional Piccadilly trains stop at Turnham Green where the Richmond branch of the District diverges, but the major branching point is…

ACTON TOWN

Nowadays the District only goes beyond Acton Town as far as Ealing Broadway, but the entire Uxbridge branch of the Piccadilly and the Heathrow branch as far as Hounslow West were originally served by the District and feature platforms at the compromise height used for cross-platform interchanges between ‘tube’ and ‘subsurface’ lines. This station adjoins the Acton  Works, where rolling stock is maintained and overhauled. We will explore the Heathrow branch first…

ALWAYS AVOID ALL ALLITERATION

The joke instruction used as this section heading refers to the fact that the three Hounslow’s, Hatton Cross and the three Heathrow stations all being with the letter H – and if you are on a train running the loop route (Terminals 1,2 and 3 and then terminal 4, as opposed to the direct Terminal 5 route), you would in total, between departing Hounslow East one way and returning there in the other direction see station names beginning with H 11 times on the trot.

THE HEATHROW SCHEMOZZLE

When the Piccadilly was first extended to serve Heathrow one station, unimaginatively named Heathrow Central was deemed sufficient. Then, in 1986, Terminal 4 opened, and was not accessible from the existing station. A terminal loop was constructed with a new station built on it to serve Terminal 4. So far, so good, but then the folk who run Heathrow decided that a mere four terminals were insufficient for the number of flights they wanted to run, and a fifth terminal, not accessible from either existing station was built. So we now have a bizarre configuration whereby there is simultaneously a terminal loop and an ordinary direct terminus constructed specially to serve Terminal 5. Quite what sort of arrangement will result if and when a Terminal 6 gets the go-ahead is beyond me to imagine.

Early advertising of the Heathrow connection.
Early advertising of the Heathrow connection.

ALPERTON

I have covered the quirky feature of this station in a previous post.

SUDBURY TOWN

There are two stations on this branch bearing the name Sudbury, Sudbury Hill an Sudbury Town. I am concentrating on the latter because as a Grade 1 listed building it stands as an example of the best of London Underground architecture. Like so many of the finest examples, this station was designed by the legendary Charles Holden. To find out more about Holden and his work I recommend strongly that you consult David Lawrence’s magnificent Bright Underground Spaces, in which I located these pictures that relate to Sudbury Town…

The design of the station.
The design of the station.
A double page spread picture of the completed station.
A double page spread picture of the completed station.

SOUTH HARROW

The last station before this branch meets the Metropolitan for the run to Uxbridge. The Metropolitan converges from a station called West Harrow, while all the other branches of that line bar the Uxbridge one pass through North Harrow. Once upon a time a school opened to serve “30 poor children of the parish of Harrow”. The school is still there, but it is a long time since any poor children got to go there.

RAYNERS LANE

This is the meeting point, and for a long time this was a regular terminating point for Piccadilly line services except at peak periods. This is the last marked interchange on the Piccadilly line, although you could change to the Metropolitan anywhere between here and Uxbridge should you desire it.

RUISLIP MANOR AND RUISLIP

Ruislip is an occasional terminating point, although most trains that go that far go on to Uxbridge. These two stations both serve Ruislip Lido, home to among other things the smallest gauge passenger carrying railway in Britain. I have assembled some links for you:

  1. The lido as a whole
  2. The Ruislip Lido Railway
  3. The official view on how to get there.

ICKENHAM

I mentioned earlier in this post that Holborn is the only officially recognised interchange between the Piccadilly and Central lines. For all that is in the region of a 10 minute walk to get from this station to West Ruislip I consider that this should be a recognised interchange – for more detail consult this post.

HILLINGDON

The current Hillingdon station opened in 1992, but there was an earlier Hillingdon station which opened in 1923. In 1934 this station was renamed Hillingdon (Swakeleys). The suffix was gradually dropped over time, but leaves the question “what is Swakeleys?” to have such significance. The answer, as an internet search reveals is that it is a school. As far as can ascertain it is the only school to have officially formed part of a station name (the stations with Harrow in their name refer to the location not the the school per se). There is also a well known hospital in Hillingdon.

UXBRIDGE

We have reached the end of our journey. The present Uxbridge station opened in 1934, but there has been a station at Uxbridge since 1903. In so far as anywhere so rural can be this is something of a transport hub as several bus services make use of the station forecourt. Now it is time to reveal the solution to the teaser I set as to why I started out of position at Southgate: the connection is a cricketing one – yes we are back in Middlesex out ground territory. Sadly, other than knowing that Middlesex sometimes play there I cannot recall anything about cricket at Uxbridge – no remarkable matches spring to mind, nor great players especially associated with the ground.

SOME FINAL WORDS

This post does not make any claim to be a definitive account of the Piccadilly line – it is a strictly personal view of the highlights of the line that has more stations than any other deep level ‘tube’ lines and is only beaten by the District among the ‘subsurface’ lines, and I have ignored many stations altogether and given quite a few others only sparse coverage. I hope that you have all enjoyed the ride!

Special Post: Blackhorse Road

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this latest post in my series “London Station by Station“. This piece also connects somewhat with my series of posts about Marxism 2015.

BLACKHORSE ROAD

Blackhorse Road was part of the original section of the Victoria line, from Walthamstow Central to Highbury and Islington that opened in 1968. It is also on a London Overground branch line that runs between Gospel Oak and Barking.

I cannot pretend that the station is an impressive building. Indeed it’s only real significance to me is that the quickest way from the venue of Marxism 2015 to my accommodation was to travel from Euston to this station and then catch a 123 bus (quick but not cheap – my Oyster card took at least £30 worth of punishment for a total of eight trips – albeit one affected by the tube strike and so being somewhat elongated). Incidentally, things went so well on the accommodation front that my host has offered me accommodation again for next year should I attend – and I have accepted.

For the rest, here are some pictures…

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Marxism 2015 11: The Final Rally

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my series about my experiences at Marxism 2015, the five day political festival in Central London organised by the Socialist Workers Party.

THE FINAL RALLY

I did not stay for the whole of the final rally, missing one speech and the singing of the Internationale, because standing all the way from London to Cambridge did not appeal, so I wanted to ensure that I was on the 15:44 – the latest train on which one can bet on not standing.

The Internationale
The Internationale

Here is a picture of the platform, taken before the meeting started…

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All the speeches were excellent, but the one that really made an impression on me was the one by a woman from the campaign to get justice for the Hillsborough families…

The chair introducing the final rally.
The chair introducing the final rally.
Richard Boyd Barrett TD (Irish equivalent of an MP) gives the first speech.
Richard Boyd Barrett TD (Irish equivalent of an MP) gives the first speech.
These two were speaking as a pair about their experiences unionizing fast food establishments
These two were speaking as a pair about their experiences unionizing fast food establishments

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SWP Student Organiser Lewis making his speech..
SWP Student Organiser Lewis making his speech..
Still fighting for justice 26 years on.
Still fighting for justice 26 years on.

I hope that you have enjoyed this post and will be encouraged to share it.

Marxism 2015 10: Monday Morning

A personal account of the two meetings I attended on the Monday morning at Marxism 2015, with some photographs and a link to an old blog post.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my series of posts about Marxism 2015, the five-day political festival in central London, organised by the Socialist Workers Party. In this post, which I hope some of you will enjoy enough to share, I shall be covering the last two regular meetings before the final rally.

TWO SPLENDID MEETINGS

HOW BIG PHARMA STOPS US MAKING PROGRESS

This meeting, in Nunn Hall, where a lot of the meetings that appealed to me seemed to be taking place, was an excellent start to the final day of this great event.

Speaker Camilla Royle and the chair before the meeting started.
Speaker Camilla Royle and the chair before the meeting started.
The book being advertised at this meeting - and having borrowed it from the library a while back I can confirm that it is a splendid read.
The book being advertised at this meeting – and having borrowed it from the library a while back I can confirm that it is a splendid read.
Camilla giving her opening speech.
Camilla giving her opening speech.
The timetable for Monday.
The timetable for Monday.

I will limit myself to one story from that meeting – a tale of how 73 trials of which 37 gave the right result and 36 the wrong were spun by a combination of suppression and deceit into 48 successful trials and 3 failures – this is how the pharmaceutical industry chooses to conduct itself.

PEGIDA AND THE FIGHT AGAINST RACISM, FASCISM AND ISLAMAPHOBIA IN GERMANY

This was the last of the regular meetings I attended at the event, and it was superb. The main speaker, Christine Buchholz, a member of Die Linke talked about the rapid rise of Pegida and then the counter to them – appearing everywhere they did in bigger numbers. This of course is the way the Anti-Nazi League in this country dealt with the National Front and then in the 1990s with the first rise of the BNP, also how Unite Against Fascism dealt with the EDL and the second rise of the BNP – confront them, never let them have a moment’s peace and make it abundantly clear that there are more of us than there are of them. Check out this early blog post of mine on the matter.

A membership form for Unite Against Fascism.
A membership form for Unite Against Fascism.

Mention was also made of the brief and spectacularly ill-starred Pegida UK, which was really the absolute rump of the EDL and BNP, and never gathered any momentum. For examples of what happens of you do not take these people head on Holland and Austria where there are very major fascist organizations were cited (France with Front National being too well known to need much of a mention).

Here are some final photos…

Displays in the foyer area between the Logan and Jeffrey halls (the Drama Studio is also in this area).
Displays in the foyer area between the Logan and Jeffrey halls (the Drama Studio is also in this area).

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Speaker and Chair before the meeting
Speaker and Chair before the meeting
Christine Buchholz during her opening speech.
Christine Buchholz during her opening speech.

Marxism 2015 9: Sunday Evening

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest piece in my series about my experiences at Marxism 2015, the five day political festival in central London organised by the Socialist Workers Party. This post will focus on the latter stages of Sunday. I hope that some of you will enjoy it enough to share it.

TWO HEAVILY CONTRASTING MEETINGS

IS THERE A THEORY OF EVERYTHING?

I was delighted when I saw this meeting in the timetable, although room 642 was uncomfortably hot. Incidentally, the Institute of Education level numbers have no connection with street level, which is actually between Levels 3 and 4 – there are entrances at both levels.

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Speaker Paul McGarr and chair Camilla Royle  before the meeting.
Speaker Paul McGarr and chair Camilla Royle before the meeting.

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Paul McGarr during his opening speech.
Paul McGarr during his opening speech.

Our speaker, Paul McGarr argued that there will be no Theory of Everything and pointed out some of the occasions when people thought they had one and were proved wrong. While accepting this, as most of the contributors from the floor did during the discussion, I would go further still: not only is a Theory of Everything impossible, it is undesirable – it would mean that there was nothing new left to discover.

FROM SOYLENT GREEN TO HUNGER GAMES –
WHY IS THE FUTURE ON FILM ALWAYS SO GRIM?

After the long break between 5 and 7PM, which I used to edit photos and put up a blog post, I went to the Drama Studio, one of four venues in the bowels of the earth (a.k.a level one), for the meeting whose title heads this subsection…

Sasha Simic (in the blue top) in position for his opening speech.
Sasha Simic (in the blue top) in position for his opening speech.

Rather than attempt to write about this meeting, I will do it all with pictures…

The chair introducing the meeting.
The chair introducing the meeting.

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Utopia - the reverse of the Dystopias talked about in this meeting.
Utopia – the reverse of the Dystopias talked about in this meeting.

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Marxism 2015 8: Disability and Resistance After the Election

A very brief account of the meeting on disability and resistance at Marxism 2015, some links and a classic infographic courtesy of Jo Stevens, MP for Cardiff.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest in my series of posts about Marxism 2015, the five-day political festival in central London organised by the Socialist Workers Party. For this post I will be dealing exclusively with the first meeting after lunch on Sunday. After the main body of the post I have some links to share.

AN INSPIRATIONAL MEETING

A platform full of excellent speakers, some great stories and a packed out meeting room make for good vibes. The room used, Nunn Hall, had been reconfigured to suit this particular meeting, with an area cleared for wheelchair users, and a team of people set up to provide DSL.

The platform before the meeting
The platform before the meeting
DSL provision in place.
DSL provision in place.
All set for the meeting.
All set for the meeting.

It is in the context of this meeting, and the stories of protest contained therein that I choose to make my first mention of October 4th in Manchester, when we will be protesting outside the Tory conference and this protest should be built as big as possible.

LINKS

I am finishing this brief post with a few links, one of them accompanied by an infographic.

My first link is a facebook page about the horror that is TTIP.

My second and third links are both related to environmental issues:

1)From avaaz this call to protect our oceans from the rapacity of big mining companies.

2)From rawstory more about the consequences of fracking (see also my previous blog post).

Ending this post with a bang, this link and infographic courtesy of Jo Stevens, Labour MP for Cardiff.

It is not often that I use a picture that is not my own as a feature image, but this time I am.
It is not often that I use a picture that is not my own as a feature image, but this time I am.

Marxism 2015 7: Sunday Morning

An account of the first part of Sunday at Marxism 2015 and a fistful of important links.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my series of posts about my experiences at Marxism 2015, the five day political festival in central London organised by the Socialist Workers Party. Check out the previous posts in the series. As well as the post itself I have some important links to share – and on the subject of sharing I hope you will be inspired to share this post!

GETTING THERE

The journey in had two variations on previous days – firstly my host was able to give me a lift to Walthamstow Central, saving some money on the Oyster Card, and secondly I decided to change to the Piccadilly line at Finsbury Park because Russell Square is actually the closest station to the Institute of Education. My dislike of lifts reduced the theoretical benefits of saving distance because the only other method of access to street level is via the stairs, of which there are 175.

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These balloon pictures are from the southbound Piccadilly line platform at Finsbury Park.

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The Piccadilly line is currently constituted.
The Piccadilly line is currently constituted.
A new style of schematic diagram now on display at many stations.
A new style of schematic diagram now on display at many stations.

AT THE EVENT

Here is my program of meetings for the day…

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You might not expect a theoretical meeting first thing on a Sunday morning to be lively, but it was. However I will settle for sharing a few photographs…

Speaker Sue Caldwell and chair (and SWP student organiser) Lewis Nielsen before the first meeting of the day.
Speaker Sue Caldwell and chair (and SWP student organiser) Lewis Nielsen before the first meeting of the day.

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Sue during her opening speech.
Sue during her opening speech.
A contributor from the floor during the discussion
A contributor from the floor during the discussion
A close up shot of picture on his t-shirt
A close up shot of picture on his t-shirt
When they contributed from the floor...
When they contributed from the floor…
...I was able to get a picture of the front showing which union it was.
…I was able to get a picture of the front showing which union it was.
This was the back of someone' shirt
This was the back of someone’ shirt

From this meeting I ascended two floors to Nunn Hall for my next meeting, Amy Leather (organiser of the whole event) on fracking. Here are some lowlights associated with fracking…

  • Uses vast quantities of water – millions of gallons per site
  • 2 – 2,500 lorry trips per well required
  • Tap water near fracking sites so polluted that folk can set fire to it
  • and 15 million Americans live within one mile of a fracking site – and it would be worse in this country because we are more densely populated.
  • We are still talking FOSSIL FUELS – every part of the process increases emissions
  • Process leaks methane – which is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than methane

Instead of supporting this means of generating power we should be looking more deeply in renewables (for which Cameron and his cronies have cut funding while they are pushing fracking like billy-ho).

I will end this section with a few more photos…

Amy and chair Dave Gilchrist before the meeting.
Amy and chair Dave Gilchrist before the meeting.
Amy during her opening speech.
Amy during her opening speech.

LINKS

TWO PETITIONS

Each of these petitions comes with two links, the petition itself and a related article. First up, a petition calling on SeaWorld to release Tillikum the orca:

1)The petition

2)An open letter to Harry Styles of One Direction, who recently urged his fans not to go to SeaWorld.

The second petition I am sharing with this post is the one calling on Theresa May to establish a legal exclusionary zone around abortion clinics:

1)The Petition

2)A related article in the Guardian

OTHER LINKS

My penultimate link is to a story on Take Part Daily about how roads could be made from plastic waste.

Last up, a story from Vox Political about the Speaker of the House making some very revealing remarks about the way in which Iain Duncan Smith conducts himself.