Tigger said she wanted to go and see Moda. Who’s that? I wondered to myself but it later turned out to be a what? not a who? Either way, we were disappointed as Moda wasn’t where we thought it was.
We were going to take the Piccadilly Line to Oakwood, so we went down to King’s Cross (the Piccadilly Line doesn’t run through Angel), intending to have breakfast on the way. But where?
There is a Caffè Nero on the corner of St Pancras station where Pancras Road runs into Euston Road. We had heard that they now served porridge. We bought coffee and croissants to go with it. All I can say is that though they may make “the best espresso this side of Milan”, as it says on their shirts, their porridge needs a little work. It had the consistency of soup.
The tube journey to Oakwood is a longish one (though there are far longer routes on the Metropolitan Line) and this station is the last one before the terminus at Cockfosters. (If you want to follow the route on a tube map, this map has a nice “Find Station” function but is rather small-scale while this other map is of a larger scale but you have to look up the station’s grid reference on page 2.)
Oakwood station, opened in 1933 as part of the Piccadilly Line extension to Cockfosters, was designed by Charles Holden and has an unusually large entrance hall extending over the tracks. Its historical importance is enough to have gained it the status of a listed building. The Underground sign in the street in front is also a little bit special.
This is one of the older designs of what is known as the London Underground roundel. It was designed around 1817-8 by Edward Johnson, a typographer, and continued in use, with variations, throughout the 1920s into the 1930s. (The modern logo lacks the white dashes and the letters are all of the same height.) There are several different versions visible on the network today and it’s good that the older ones have been allowed to remain, telling their story, as it were.
I now learnt that Moda was to be found at Trent Park and that if we waited in front of the station, by and by a shuttle bus would come and take us there. Moda or “MoDA” turned out to be the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture and was said to be hanging out at the campus of the University of Middlesex.
The shuttle came and we boarded. The small bus ran down the picturesquely named Snake Lane and deposited us beside the Old Stables. There are no horses there now and the building is used for other purposes. It’s a fine building with its own clock tower and it would have been interesting to see it in the days when it served as a stables for the house.
Long ago, Trent Park was a royal hunting forest but was given to a Dr Richard Jebb by George III for services rendered. Thus it entered into private ownership and finally came into the hands of Middlesex County Council (1952). During World War Two, the house was requisitioned as an interrogation centre for captured enemy airmen. Today, it is one of the several campuses of Middlesex University.
We searched around the building and the immediate area but although we found some interesting traces of the house’s past, including sphinxes and statues, MoDA was nowhere to the seen.
There was a reception area and while Tigger was enquiring for the whereabouts of MoDA, I spotted this artwork (presumably) and photographed it, trying to decide what it was. A dinosaur skeleton, perhaps? There was no identifying plate or notice. Someone has apparently decided to use it as a coat rack.
…looks as if there might once have been a fountain in the middle
It turned out that MoDA was no longer here. That’s why we couldn’t find it. We should have checked before setting out, perhaps. We returned to the Old Stables to wait for the little white shuttle bus to take us back to Oakwood station.
We continued on by bus to Enfield, hoping to find something to see or do there. We found that it was market day and the Market Square was full of stalls. I had photographed the Market House on a previous visit when the square was empty (see A look at Enfield). Today it was surrounded, like a mother hen surrounded by her chicks.
Hearing that Enfield Museum Service has an area in the Dugdale Centre in Thomas Hardy House, we went along, hoping to take a look. Although there was a friendly information officer on duty, the rest of the Centre was closed, so we drew another blank.
We retired to Caffè Nero for coffee and a rest and to decide what to do next. The cafe was quite busy, perhaps because the market had brought people into town or just because it was Saturday.
We decided to take a bus ride to Enfield River Island. Whether or not this is strictly speaking an island or a “virtual island”, I am not entirely sure but it seems near enough one, bordered by the River Lee, the Navigation Canal and the Cattlegate Flood Relief Channel. This map will give you a better idea of the layout.
The Island is historically important because it was here that in 1818 the Royal Small Arms Factory was opened. This was the most important production centre for British small arms, creating some of the most famous army weapons such as the Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle and the Sten gun. The factory closed in 1988 and the Island began to be developed for housing.
It was quite cold, and as there didn’t seem to be a lot to see anyway, we took the bus back to Enfield where we had a late lunch in a cafe called Buffalo in Southbury Street.
After this, perhaps discouraged by not managing to see what we had wanted to see, we decided to return home. We took a train to Liverpool Street and the bus from there. It had been a slightly low-key day, though we had seen a few interesting things and places, and perhaps we shall return another time a bit better prepared!