The London 2012 Olympics – Empty London

August 2, 2012

After many weeks of being urged to Get ahead of the Games by changing our travel routes, or working at home, because of the anticipated hoards of Olympic fans descending on Londinium, I was preparing to go to work on what would’ve been the first real test of the transport planning. Monday mornings are always tricky, but my route contains the combined hot spots of the DLR system, Bank and London Bridge stations. I conceded to leaving Pie Palace half an hour earlier, but otherwise I ignored the advice to re-route my travel and prepared for battle. I’m a Londoner. I fight through the crowds on our old Victorian system. It’s what we do.

Michael Caine in Get Carter

OK. I’m ready – let’s go!

The DLR section was fairly quiet. Not so unusual at 7.30am.

Olympics 2012 Limehouse DLR

I reached Bank, expecting to play the usual underground shuffle game with a bottleneck of people, but we had plenty of room to move. I went up the escalators with ease. I reached the Northern line interchange for my train to London Bridge. There was space on the platform. I reached London Bridge. It was quieter than usual. What’s going on?! We were ushered through a one-way system, created for crowd control, by the brightly coloured and smiley Games Makers.

Olympics 2012 London Bridge station Games Makers

I reached the national rail section of London Bridge. It was now 7.45am and it was really quiet. Where are all the people?

Camera crews were anticipating the big rush.

Olympics 2012 London Bridge national rail station camera crew

I decided to leave the station and go roaming, as I now had plenty of time before my train was due. I hadn’t been smoking anything and neither had you, I assume, dear reader, but you would’ve made a promise to yourself to lay off the midnight cheese sandwiches after seeing this:

olympics 2012 London Bridge flowerpot lady

I returned to the station to look at the departure board and found this:

Olympics 2012 London Bridge national rail station city gents with toy dogs

There they were, a line of old school city gents in bowler hats, with small plastic toy dogs on wheels by their side. They just stood there, looking up at the departure board. The reaction of passengers arriving on the concourse ranged from looks of incredulity, to the usual London nonchalance. They then moved off in a line out of the station, slowly, dragging the toy dogs behind them.

The rest of my journey to work was easy peasy, but I heard it was going to be murder going back. I braced myself for the scrum, reaching London Bridge at 6.45pm. It’s usually rammed to the rafters. This is what I found:

olympics 2012 Games makers at London Bridge station in the early evening.

There were more Games Makers than commuters on the concourse. It was even quieter on the underground. I mean, look at it.

olympics 2012 London Bridge underground

olympics 2012 London Bridge underground platform

Oh, the irony…

olympics 2012 London Bridge get ahead of the games poster

The poster says: During the Games, the transport network across London will be exceptionally busy. Get ready to change the way you travel at:

I was ready for a good old scrap and it didn’t come. I was so disappointed.



  1. Great blog! We’ve been busy documenting the (non) chaos of the Olympics too. Check us out…

    • Thanks for having a look at my blog. I had a quick scan of yours. It’s a quirky kind of thing, which I like. I will make a comment when I have a proper look.

  2. I saw the strange men in bowler hats with the wooden toy dogs too! They were at London bridge heading for the Kent platforms this evening at 530pm, any idea what the point of them was? I thought i was going mad but ignored them in favour of making my train 🙂 Cheers! F

    • I have no idea why they’re there. Maybe it’s part of the Olympic entertainments for the poor, stressed passengers, though I don’t imagine there would be similar happenings at every hot spot station. If they’re going to be at London Bridge for the next few weeks, maybe the flowerpot lady will be there too. You were that nonchalant Londoner (or honorary Londoner) who chose to ignore them, like they’re an everyday occurrence.

      Welcome to my blog, Feeza. You can come again and comment whenever you like.

  3. Great story Pie, glad to see things are not going badly in London despite all the fuss.

    • Hello Sidney! it’s great seeing you here.

      Were you lucky enough to see the NBC coverage of our opening ceremony last weekend? I heard they made a right pigs ear of it, including some outstandingly bad and offensive commentary. Alas, I can’t find any of it on YouTube. I was really looking forward to seeing clips of it for myself, not least because I cannot believe it was as bad as I’d been told. Having said that, I have read a few of the comments the presenters made, courtesy of other bloggers.

      As far as transportation goes, so far, so good. However, this could all change from today (Friday), as many more people are expected to travel to the Olympic park for the athletics and cycle races, which to many people are the big guns of the Games. I will soon experience the changes (if any) when I start working again next week.

      • Alas no, I have no television at home (our old bucket of a set does not pick up digital signals, and we can’t afford cable.

        However I’ve kept up on NBC’s lousy coverage, and there should be a post on the way about it. Hopefully things stay calm in London over the weekend.

        • You’re going to write about it? Excellent! I can’t wait!

  4. This morning there are four people dressed on long brown coats, flat caps and have little Charlie Chaplin ‘tashes!! Oh and they’re carrying blue feather dusters and attempting to dust the ticket gantries! Weird but funny! F

    • Is this all happening at London Bridge? I’ll be there next week. I can’t wait to see what else they’ll come up with.

  5. Hiya, I am one of the people in pink! Have you got any other pictures of london bridge station at all?

    • Hello Anon. Welcome to my blog.

      You were a Games Maker? How cool is that?! You must tell me how it was for you. I’ve heard from others that it’s been the most amazing experience.

      I’m in the process of putting together a post Olympic games entry for this blog. London Bridge will feature prominently.

  6. Very funny. All that build up.
    Great photos. Love the city gents.

    • The city gents were great, Gemma. I have more pictures of those people in various guises at London Bridge over the course of an Olympic week. I must put them up as soon as poss. I may wait until after the Paralympic games, when I do a round up of the Olympic experience.

      Thanks for making a comment and welcome to my blog.

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