There’s an intricate work of art at my local tube station, Manor House on the Piccadilly line, which has been under my nose for ages. Or rather several feet above it, on the platform wall, which goes some way towards explaining why it can be so easily overlooked. It has not colour to compete with the adverts, the electronic destination indicator, or the need to find your place in the crowd.
I speak of the ironwork of the platform-level grilles, which depict what could be the back garden of a splendidly bucolic daydream. It includes, from left to right, a mighty tree, flying birds and a magnificent gate. To my mind, the gate is a stylized version of the Manor House entrance to Finsbury Park, which can be found above the station. The artist’s name is located at the bottom of the right-hand gatepost: H.Stabler.
His name also appears on the platform-level grilles at Turnpike Lane and Wood Green stations on the Piccadilly line. Each of these three stations has a different, equally whimsical design, which makes it well worthwhile viewing them all. They opened on the 19th September,1932, and are adjacent.
I did some online research and discovered that the artist is Harold Stabler, and he also designed tiles which can be seen on the platform walls at Bethnal Green and St Paul’s on the Central Line, Aldgate East on the District Line, and St John’s Wood and Swiss Cottage on the Jubilee Line. The relief tile of the London Underground headquarters at 55 Broadway is his work as well.
He produced posters for London Underground, with one celebrating the coronation of King George VI on 12th May 1937. It depicts a crown on a velvet cushion and reads, “Long live their majesties”. While another extols you to, “See the crown jewels it the Tower of London”. Interestingly, this poster says at the bottom, “nearest station Mark Lane”. This station closed on 4th February 1967.
Harold Stabler had a unique way of looking at the world, and through his work he’s opened my eyes too.
Born 1872 in Levens, south Cumbria.
Died 1945 in London.
Sculptor, metal worker, silversmith, medallist, overlooked artist.
To date a writer of fiction, he was previously nominated for The James White Award. Along with numerous short stories published online, his stories appear in the printed anthologies Small Crimes, Daikaiju!2: Revenge of the Giant Monsters, and Murder in Vegas (edited by Michael Connelly, and which has also been released in audio book format). Neither Legal Nor Tender, a London serial novel, appears in Jukepop.com, where a new chapter is written weekly and posted every Wednesday.
New London Writers provides a home for his personal observations.
TP Keating cannot overstate how indebted he is to his beautiful wife, Marielle, for her unending patience in reading his numerous drafts. The stories simply wouldn't exist without her.