From above, the inside of the cavernous station looked like a writhing carpet of insects as the multitudes below jostled to find their platform and to squeeze onto already full to bursting carriages.
In the midst of the crowd the traveller’s nose was bombarded by a sickly, sweet smell of the many perfumes, which radiated from the ladies and bachelorettes who were dotted around the station. (These ladies who had liberally sprayed these expensive aromas upon themselves while their maids and servants had dressed them that morning). Beneath this foetid floral scent, lay a deep almost musky tone from the oil and coal of the great engines which sat on the tracks. Smouldering like sleeping dragons, puffs of smoke and steam belching forth occasionally. This smothering smell exuding from the many soot covered, grubby faced men who swarmed around their machines.
Suddenly an immense whistle blew, a high fluting shriek piercing against the constant monotonous mumble of the people. Some jumped and flinched at the sound as if in pain but quickly recovered, and with embarrassment filling their every feature, sheepishly glanced this way and that to see if anybody had caught sight of their blunder.
The cacophony had sprung from a huge engine of deepest green which stood near the centre of the station. Amongst the flurrying excitement of the surrounding crowds, the engine’s cry signified its imminent departure and now the hoarse shouts of conductors could be heard. Their voices, inured to bellowing departures and arrivals echoed around the station. After a moment and an immense, billowing cloud of steam the gargantuan obelisk of iron and steel began to move. Slowly at first the heavy, black painted cranks forced the wheel on. The shiny, golden spokes turned and rolled over each other until they blurred to the eye and became a shimmering disk of gold. Many heads could be seen following the crank’s monotonous movement as if partaking in some mass hypnotism. As soon as the train left the station these people awoke from their trance and continued on their way.
At the far left wall of the station a small, sooty child could be seen, his rounded face bobbing above the sea of bowlers and top hats. The boy’s small voice could only manage a few small steps before it was enveloped by the melee of the crowd. Within this radius the boy’s, high pitched shouts could be heard, strongly accented, though somehow clarion against the discord: “Ev’ing Standard -hot off the press”, he called, before stepping down from his soap box come pedestal to deal with a customer.