When I was looking ahead to my move to London, I was naturally looking online for various things to do with the city. And on Youtube I quickly fell in love with the videos made by Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe, which are a joy to watch (it’s important to stress at I’m not affiliated with them, this is all personal opinion only).
You can see their clips on Londonist and Geoff’s own channel, Geofftech. They’ve made videos about secrets of the Underground, the least used stations in the country, facts about London, vlogs and more. So it’s not just about the railways. But it is a big passion of theirs, so a lot of their videos are related to it in some form.
That may sound boring at first, but Geoff and Vicki aren’t trainspotters, and the videos aren’t specifically aimed at trainspotters. You don’t need to be into trains and railways in a big way to enjoy them. These are accessible, fun and informative videos that aren’t nerdy or patronising, looking more closely at a rail network that millions of us take for granted on a daily basis, not considering the history and features that are unique and unusual to each location. They clearly love what they do, and it shows.
And right now, they’re embarking on their most ambitious project yet, called All The Stations, and it’s the reason behind my latest outing this weekend.
On this project, Geoff and Vicki are producing a series of documentary videos as they travel through every single station on the UK national rail network. They’re not getting out at every station – that would be insane and impractical, lovely though the idea is. But they are getting out at some stations that take particular interest to them in order to explore. And that includes the local area around each station, so they’re not just looking at the stations themselves. So in effect it’s a massive tour of the UK in general.
A few people who don’t understand it see it as a holiday, but it’s far from it. It’s a full 9am-5pm working day, or even 8am-6pm as Vicki has said in one of their vlogs. Every day they’re filming a large amount of material, which is then professionally edited into videos about each day on their Youtube channel, and there will be a feature-length documentary with unseen footage at the end of the trip. Geoff is also filming bonus videos for his own channel, and they’re doing live videos on their Facebook and Periscope pages. And they’re posting lots of photos on Instagram and Twitter (and on their own personal feeds – all the links will be at the end of this post). And they have a team of people behind them making this work. So there’s a lot involved. And it’s all paying off so far, as the videos and photos they’ve been posting have been really enjoyable.
As for my own personal interest in this kind of thing, I’m not a trainspotter or a big railway buff. But I’ve always been fascinated with the London Underground. I’ve always loved traveling on it, especially now I’m resident in the city and have a Freedom Pass (one good thing to come out of having a disability). I also enjoy watching documentaries and videos on the subject, to the point where I have a couple of DVDs about it (a documentary and a driver’s eye view video). I also played the Tubeopoly game recently, which was great fun. And I would love to do the Tube Challenge one day (travelling through all the stations on the network in one go).
Plus, thanks to an idea I spotted on Geoff’s Twitter feed, I’ve also been marking off the stations on the Underground map that I’ve been to since I moved to the city at Christmas. These are stations that I’ve actually entered or exited – stations where I simply change lines don’t count. I’m not trying to do them in any particular timescale, but it is interesting to see where I’ve been so far, and I would like to do the whole map eventually.
So watching Geoff and Vicki’s videos about the Tube was my way into their world, and from there I grew to appreciate their videos about the wider railway system as well. So when they launched a Kickstarter fund to fund All The Stations, I was happy to contribute, and the money’s been worth it based on their output so far.
I went for the Trainspotter reward, which includes getting a mention in a thank you video on Facebook, a signed photo from the trip, and the chance to adopt a station. And the latter is the important thing here.
There were quite a few stations I could choose from, and I initially looked at stations in the Westcountry, because I lived there for over 30 years until recently, and I have a lot of stations in Devon that have significance to me. But they were all taken. However, the nearest station to me here in London was not, so I grabbed that one instead – Barking.
The thing is, however, that I had never actually been to Barking before. It is just one stop on the Tube or a half hour walk away, but I haven’t been in London very long either, and have had various other things keeping me occupied. But I was already planning to go there for a look around, and now it was my adopted station, I had all the more incentive to do so.
You can look up information about individual stations on n the National Rail website – which I’ve never actually done before, so I decided to do so for Barking to see what it said. And I was impressed by the amount of information there. I particularly love the interactive map of the station, because you can hover your mouse over every individual element to find out more about it, including how accessible it is (everything from the platforms, lifts and stairs, to ticket offices, vending machines and toilets, all have good descriptions). And you can then click on the element you’re hovering over to see a large photograph of it. So you can have a really good look around pretty much any station before you set foot there, to give you a sense of how it’s laid out. I don’t know how useful the site is if you can’t see, granted, but for many disabled people the information there could be really important.
Incidentally, talking of station maps – the StationMaster app for the London Underground, which Geoff has been involved with, is very useful too. And I also loved the picture of the large, tactile station map that All The Stations posted recently at one of their stop. I had no ideas those maps existed, but they’re a great idea!
Anyway, because I adopted Barking, I decided to go there yesterday. I spent a long afternoon there, walking around the station (which is pretty big and very accessible) and its immediate vicinity (there’s a nice shopping centre across the street), along with Barking Park (which is a beautiful space, with a mini railway of its own and a lovely big lake) and the grounds of Barking Abbey (which are also nice to stroll through). I took a lot of video footage as I went along, and I’ve also posted some photos on my Instagram.
I’ve split my footage into 3 videos, which you can see below. The first video is of Barking Station itself, the second video is of the shopping centre and streets in the vicinity of the station, and the third video is of Barking Park and Barking Abbey. It was lovely to walk around the area, and I was pleased to find things like a road bridge looking down over the rails, a light railway in the park, the shopping centre and an interesting sculpture on a roundabout I had to go past.
Obviously I’m not a professional video producer like Geoff and Vicki, and if they were there, they would probably spot plenty of things that I didn’t, because they know their stuff and have much better eyesight than me. But I’m happy with the random footage I got. I like filming and taking photos at places I visit so I can look back at them later, because it’s a good way to remember them, plus I do sometimes spot things I missed at the time that I just happened to capture.
So the videos are below, followed by a list of all the relevant links for All The Stations, as I highly recommend following their progress – primarily the All The Stations pages, but also Geoff and Vicki’s personal Youtube, Twitter and Instagram links for bonus All The Stations content. And thank you to Geoff and Vicki and their team for doing such great work with the project so far – I hope it continues to go well for you! 🙂
All The Stations
Geoff Marshall (Geofftech)
Vicki Pipe (norwegiancheese)