Waltham Forest Overground routes to be given new names

‘The Weaver’ and ‘The Suffragette’, both reflect the diverse culture and history of the London areas they run through

By Marco Marcelline and James Cracknell

Leyton Midland Road, on the Suffragette Line

The two London Overground lines which run through Waltham Forest, the Liverpool Street to Chingford service, and the Gospel Oak to Barking Riverside connection, will be respectively renamed the ‘Weaver Line’ and the ‘Suffragette Line’.

The plan is part of Transport for London’s (TfL) move to grant the capital’s six overground routes a unique name and line colour for the first time, which it describes as a “historic re-imagining of London’s public transport network”.

It’s hoped that the rebrand will make it easier for customers to navigate the Overground network. Currently, as well as having no individual names for each line, the London Overground also uses the same colour – orange – for every single route. The name and colour changes will be rolled out in full by the end of the year, TfL has said.

TfL said the maroon-coloured Weaver Line was given its name because it runs through areas of London known for their textile trade. The areas, Liverpool Street, Spitalfields, Bethnal Green and Hackney, were “shaped over the centuries by diverse migrant communities and individuals”, TfL explained.

Meanwhile, the Suffragette Line was given its name in celebration of the working-class women’s rights movement that kicked off in the East End. Barking, which the line runs through, was the home of the longest surviving Suffragette Annie Huggett, who died at 103-years-old. The line, which stops at Blackhorse Road, Walthamstow Central, Leyton Midland Road and Leytonstone High Road, will be given green parallel lines on the map.

On social media, locals and regular commuters shared their thoughts. Comedian and podcaster Coco Khan said TfL missed an opportunity to give the Suffragette Line its unofficial nickname, the ‘Goblin’. She tweeted: “I’m on the suffagette line which used to be known as the GOBLIN (Gospel Oak Barking LINe) so you could say things like ‘I’m going to get the goblin home’ and I’m sorry but that is a loss.”

Amir Rizwan, a Walthamstow local, told the Echo he thought the name changes were a “great” step towards making the Overground easier to navigate.

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Amir, who regularly commutes on the Liverpool Street to Chingford service, said that the lack of separate names for each Overground line had caused “confusion for passengers and tourists for years”.

Amir also positively reacted to the name choices, saying: “I think the names are really interesting and it’s great that they reflect aspects of history. Like anything, there will be people who disagree and want it called something else and this is a bit of a moment where you can’t please everyone.”

London-based community groups and activists welcomed the name changes.

James Gaselee, clerk for Worshipful Company of Weavers, said: “We are delighted that one of the newly named London Overground lines will be called the Weaver line in recognition of the silk weaving trade that was centred on Spitalfields; this is not however purely historic as the name of the line will also shine a light on the silk weaving, textile and fashion industries that continue to flourish in London and across the country.”

Meanwhile, Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “We owe so much to the courageous suffragettes and suffragists who campaigned hard and at significant personal cost for women to have the vote and we at Fawcett are delighted that their activism is being recognised by TfL. We hope that commuters on the Suffragette line will pause to think about these amazing women and the work they did to build our democracy.”

Jemima added: “The naming of the Suffragette line is a wonderful way to pay tribute to the women who have gone before us and to inspire the next generation of feminist campaigners, as our work isn’t yet done!” 

Other names chosen include the ‘Lioness Line’ for the route between Euston and Watford, which runs through Wembley and has been named after the England women’s football team; the ‘Mildmay Line’ for the route between Stratford and Richmond/Clapham Junction, named after a small charitable hospital in Shoreditch; and the ‘Windrush Line’ between Highbury & Islington and Clapham Junction/New Cross/Crystal Palace/West Croydon, which runs through areas with strong Caribbean ties.

Announcing the news this morning, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “This is a hugely exciting moment, transforming how we think about London’s transport network. 

“Giving each of the overground lines distinct colours and identities will make it simpler and easier for passengers to get around. In re-imagining London’s tube map, we are also honouring and celebrating different parts of London’s unique local history and culture. 

“The new names and colours have been chosen through engagement with passengers, historians and local communities, reflecting the heritage and diversity of our amazing city.”  

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