Kerbs in Bell Street

These are of great variety. There are dark blue *Basalt, Red Peterhead, dark Diorite and Cornish Grey Granite. The road setts include dark blue ones with lighter lines running through them, from Guernsey, red Granite from Finland, and many more. Ships which had taken goods to foreign countries but had no cargo to bring back, had to take on ballast to lower the waterline and keep them stable. This often took the form of stone kerbs and setts, which are heavy and convenient for moving by crane, so Britain's streets are full of stones from different countries. In the same way, the coastal towns of the Baltic and Australia have houses embellished with British cast iron, taken out as ballast by ships which would return with timber or meat. Lorry transport has changed the economics of at least short haul transport and the modern economic climate means that we import more than we export, so ballast is less necessary.

The Green Man, at the corner of Bell Street and Edgware Road

This building is faced with a very handsome Swedish Red Granite. No British granite is so rich a red as this, but the stone used to be imported from Sweden and finished in Scotland, so it was given romantic Scottish names like Balmoral, or French like Red Bon Acord.

The stone consists of large red feldspar crystals mixed with large quartz ones. The contrast between the bright red and the subtle colours of the quartz gives the stone an unusual brilliance. Normally quartz is almost colourless, but great pressure breaks the crystals and they appear blue or violet. A change of gaze alters the colours through blue, grey, violet and back again, so that the huge red blocks float in changing light. The red feldspar too is full of variety as the light refracts.

The stone has been cut and polished, the bulbous pillars turned on lathes and the curved ledges shaped on planing machines. These curves bring out the best in the material which is as beautiful today as it was when it was erected.

Swedish Red Granite
In the drawing the dotted crystals are of Red Feldspar and the white are Quartz.The feldspars were formed first, when the rest was a pasty mixture, so that they were free to take their perfect crystal shapes. The quartz then crystallized among the rigid feldspar crystals. Perfect quartz crystals are long hexagonal tapers, but these ones had to fill in wherever they could and so are not perfect.



Quartz Crystals

Prismatic crystals of White Quartz (Silicon Dioxide) Si02 and iridescent Chalcopyrite (Sulphide of Iron and Copper (Cu Fe SZ). These are crystals of quartz which have had enough space  to develop their perfect shapes.


The Second Section of the Walk Route

Route of the Second Section of the Walk

Walk down Edgware Road to the corner of Marylebone Road. Turn left along Marylebone Road to the underpass, Cross Marylebone Rd to the entrance to the Metropolitan Line Edgware Road Station in Chapel Street.

Doulton Carrara Ware Tiles at the Metropolitan Railway Station,
Chapel Street

The outside of the station is faced with clay tiling with a matt cream surface. Doultons called this Carrara Ware as it resembled white marble. These tiles were carefully formed in the factory, to their exact shapes and brought to the site ready to apply without cutting. The occulus window, the raised lettering above, and the bracket eave blocks, are all very skillfully made, with rates of shrinkage in the kiln precisely calculated.

The Occulus Window in Doulton White Carrara Ware

The thick glaze on these tiles resists decay in polluted town air and is self-cleaning in heavy rain. Over a century old, the tiles are almost as good as new. Some London Tube Stations, including the Edgware Road Bakerloo Line, are faced with rich, plum coloured Doulton Ware tiles. There the plum colour has been covered, rather absurdly, with grey paint which has flaked showing the plum. It is to be hoped when this station comes to be refurbished, the plum Doulton Ware will be revealed as the characteristic Line Mark, and not covered with modern lavatory tiles as has happened elsewhere. The fine Serpentinite and glass frit tiles of the Metropolitan Station, for example, were ripped out in 1987. Cleaned, they would have looked beautiful.

The Green Man, Bell Street

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Updated: August 16, 2011