What connects picturesque parklands, melodic choral music and beautiful bowling greens? The answer is Stanmore, a town with a wartime secret. In 1942 Stanmore was home to an undisclosed outstation that was built to house 57 Turing Bombe machines – the technology used by Britain’s World War II code-breakers at Bletchley Park to decipher the German Enigma code.
Art on the Underground has commissioned artist Serena Korda to create a site-specific project for Stanmore station. Inspired by Stanmore’s connection with Bletchley Park and the use of crosswords during wartime, Korda has created a striking series of artworks that portray her fascination for storytelling and social history through the use of typography and printmaking.
Bletchley’s code breakers were drawn from various backgrounds and included chess champions, mathematicians and polyglots. The ability to solve The Daily Telegraph crossword in less than 12 minutes was one of the tests for potential recruits. London Underground also has a wartime connection to crosswords. During the Blitz millions sheltered in Underground stations, and London Transport used crossword puzzles on the reverse of information leaflets to help keep people entertained.
Working with groups and organisations, Korda has developed a series of crosswords that offer an alternative guide to Stanmore and reveal something of the knowledge, stories and specialisms of those encountered. The puzzles represent the Stanmore Choral Society, staff at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, the Bird Walk of Canons Park, Stanmore Bowls Club, London Underground staff, Bletchley Park veterans and local stories about Stanmore’s infamous Duke of Chandos. Korda has collaborated with setters Geoff Heath (aka ‘Aeronaut’) and Roy Dean (setter for The Times) and the self-titled Stanmore Puzzlers to compile the crosswords.
The puzzles form the basis of new artwork at Stanmore station. The first challenge is to solve the quick and cryptic crosswords in the crossword booklet available from stations on the Jubilee Line or download the PDF. As the project title suggests, the solutions are all located at Stanmore station. Korda’s playful artworks on the platforms and stairwell hint at the solutions and proffer tips to interpret cryptic clues. Korda’s linocut insignias serve as ciphers for each participating group and her gilded heraldic banners grace the entrance hall. For those prepared to take on the challenge, the answers really do lie at the end of the line.
• Crosswords (PDF 2.85MB)