The Location of the Original Lab

Introduction

It is the intention of this article to attempt to determine a possible location for the original Lab used by the Tomorrow People from before the time of The Slaves of Jedikiah until the time of The Heart of Sogguth.

By a possible location, I mean a location that fits all the available facts that we have regarding the location of the Lab, and one that is not contradicted by any of these facts. As sources I am using the following materials.

A brief word about the canonicity of sources is required here. It is generally accepted by Tomorrow People fans that the episodes aired are canonical, but that the novelisations are not. That seems reasonable to me, but this article assumes that while the novels may not be canonical, they are a valuable source of evidence, and I will assume that, except in cases where a statement in a novel is actually contradicted by evidence from a television episode, that we can accept the novels to be reliable secondary source.

Analysis of Evidence

Let us begin by stating what we can determine of the Lab’s location from both episodes and novelisations.


From a statement by TIM in The Slaves of Jedikiah (television serial) we know that the Lab was built in a disused station on the London Underground, and that Kenny lives just around the corner from its location.


In One Law (novelisation) we have the following statement about the Lab’s location:

The Lab, the secret headquarters of the Tomorrow People, was built in a disused, forgotten, and blocked-off section of the London Underground railway.
(One Law, page 8).


In The Medusa Strain (television serial) we see Ginge leave the Lab and travel along a platform of a disused Underground station.


From The Visitor (novelisation):

The headquarters were in a disused tunnel of the London underground. The tunnel was to have formed part of the Victoria Line, but the engineers had hit a geological fault and work had been abandoned. All that had been many years ago, and few of the millions of Londoners knew that the tunnel existed, still less what it housed. Officially, all entrances had been bricked up; in fact, one tiny door remained open, known only to the Tomorrow People.
(The Visitor, page 6)


In The Visitor (novelisation) it is revealed that there is secret entrance to the Lab from a still functioning Underground station:

With a hiss and a rumble the underground train moved slowly out of the station, treating its discarded passengers to a low, whining farewell as it disappeared into the tunnel. The assorted throng of theatre-goers and businessmen kept late at the office scurried for the escalators, hardly sparing a glance for the two boys in Hell’s Angel jerkins who hung around a chocolate machine at the rear end of the platform . . . Watching until the attendant was out of sight, they immediately turned back and raised a small trapdoor hidden close to the tunnel entrance. In a moment they were bent low in a sewer-like gallery which ran off at an angle and eventually brought them to that little-known part of the London Underground which was doomed to remain forever sealed off and silent.

Picking their way deftly along the trackless tunnel which lay before them, they came at last to a solid brick wall which apparently brought the tunnel to an end. Bending, they pushed open a low door and after another near-crawl though a low gallery, they found themselves at length in the underground laboratory where TIM reigned over the equipment of the Tomorrow People.
(The Visitor, page 47-48).


Also in the novelisation of One Law we have a very direct statement on the Lab’s location:

In the Lab, TIM was busying himself getting up to date on the local and national news, and listening in on the secret government and police radio and telephone networks to find out what was going on in the world above his Underground station.

'Something interesting happened last night,' he announced when he had put together the pieces of the police radio messages. John, who was alone in the Lab, looked up from his breakfast copy of the Times. 'What, TIM?'

'This morning two crooks were found locked in the strongroom of the National Victoria bank in Shepherd's Bush.'

'That's just around the corner, but so what? We don't usually bother with bank robbers.'
(One Law, page 38)

These are the basic pieces of information. Now we need to analyse them further.

Detailed Analysis

We know that the Lab is located somewhere in the London Underground - this knowledge comes from a canonical statement to that effect in The Slaves of Jedikiah and is confirmed by a non-canonical statement on page 8 of the novelisation of One Law. We also know from the statement in The Slaves of Jedikiah that Kenny lives around the corner from the Lab. So do we have any way of knowing where Kenny lives?

The answer to this question seems to be answered on page 77 of The Visitor:

Kenny had jaunted out to the East End. He had begun his search in Bethnal Green, the district where he lived.

This suggests that the Lab must be located somewhere in the Bethnal Green area. Unfortunately from the statement on page 38 of the novelisation of One Law mentioned above we know that this cannot be true. It states quite clearly that the Lab is located somewhere near Shepherd's Bush which is a considerable distance from Bethnal Green. And as the Lab's suggested proximity to both Shepherd's Bush, and to Bethnal Green come from novelisations of equal canon status we have no reason to automatically discard one location in favour of the other.

So can we reconcile this apparent contradiction? In fact, we can do so easily by making one assumption. The Visitor takes place after the events of The Slaves of Jedikiah. This is shown by the fact that Stephen is a fully functional Tomorrow Person in The Visitor which means it must take place after his breakout which occurred in The Slaves of Jedikiah.

So if we assume that Kenny lived somewhere in the Shepherd's Bush area at the time of The Slaves of Jedikiah but had moved to Bethnal Green by the time The Visitor takes place we are able to resolves an apparent contradiction fairly easily as follows:

At the time of The Slaves of Jedikiah Kenny lives just around the corner from the Lab which is mentioned in the novelisation of One Law as being somewhere in the vicinity of Shepherd's Bush. By the time of The Visitor Kenny has moved to Bethnal Green.

Here we have FACTOID ONE: The Lab is located somewhere in or near Shepherd's Bush.

Let us examine our second point - that in The Medusa Strain Ginge is seen walking along the platform of the disused station which the Lab is located either in or near. Is there anyway we can identify which station this is?

In fact, we do have some evidence of which station it is. In one scene (shown below) we can see a damaged wall which contains a defaced sign indicating the name of the station.

The sign is, unfortunately, not particularly clear but we can at least be certain that the third last letter of the name of the station is an A and that the last letter is an E. We can also see enough of the second last letter to be reasonably sure it is an N, and though it is not very clear in this image, when viewing an actual tape of the serial, the fourth last letter seems to be an L. So the last four letters of the name of the station are, in order, L - A - N - E, which forms the word LANE. The name of the station appears to be SOMETHING LANE. Enquiries on various usenet newsgroups revealed that a Wood Lane station on the Central Line closed in 1947, and as a bonus David Connor informed me that Wood Lane station was in fact used for filming those scenes.

So why the mere fact that the scenes were filmed on a particular station is not sufficient to make it a canonical fact that the Lab was located in or near the disused Wood Lane station, it does seem to me to be reasonable to accept this as fact unless other information arises to contradict it.

And, very conveniently, the former Wood Lane station is now part of the White City Depot which is located in Shepherd's Bush so this location perfectly meshes with FACTOID ONE. We now have FACTOID TWO: The Lab is located either in, or very near, the disused Wood Lane Underground Station.

The next point to examine is the statement in The Visitor on page 6 that the Lab is located in a tunnel that was meant to have formed part of the Victoria Line until it was abandoned after the discovery of a geological fault. This does present a problem as the Victoria Line runs nowhere near the Shepherd's Bush area and Wood Lane station is, in fact, located on the Central Line.

Can we resolve this apparent contradiction with FACTOIDS ONE and TWO? I believe we can if we make the following, rather major, assumptions.

We know that the tunnel in which the Lab is located was meant to have formed part of the Victoria Line. But does that necessarily mean that it must run somewhere near the current location of the Victoria Line. It implies it, certainly, but I don't believe we have to accept that as unassailable fact.

Let us assume that, at some time in the past, there was a plan for the Victoria Line to run to the Shepherd's Bush area. This is not as far fetched as it might at first sight appear. Please examine the map of London below as it will aid in my explanation.

As you can see, there are four points marked in red on this black and white map. These are:

  1. The approximate location of the disused Wood Lane Underground station (Central Line)
  2. The location of Shepherd's Bush Underground station (Central Line)
  3. The location of Victoria Underground station (Victoria Line)
  4. The location of Vauxhall Underground station (Victoria Line)
If you wish to see a diagram of the London Underground system showing all functioning stations and lines, please click here (NOTE: this is quite a large image file).

The Victoria Line does not run anywhere near the Shepherd's Bush area. But it doesn't really need to because The Visitor does not state that the Lab is actually located on the Victoria Line. It states that it is located in an abandoned tunnel which was originally meant to form part of the Victoria Line.

So let us assume that there was at some time in the past a plan to extend the Victoria Line to near the Shepherd's Bush/Wood Lane area. The reason I have indicated Vauxhall and Victoria stations on the above map is to demonstrate that this is not as ridiculous as it may initially sound. Both Vauxhall and Victoria are located on the Victoria Line, and if we assume that this theoretical planned extension would have been on a reasonably straight line with the path formed by these two stations, it can be seen that this extension would have passed fairly near the Shepherd's Bush/Wood Lane area - with a slight diversion directly through it.

So why are there no records of this planned extension? The Visitor also serves to explain this when it states that few of the millions of Londoners knew that the tunnel existed. Bear in mind that the Tomorrow People can jaunt, and so can easily gain access to physical records which they could take or destroy to help keep the Lab's location a secret. TIM has the ability to access, and presumably, excise any computer records. We even know that the Tomorrow People can actually erase knowledge from a persons mind if they choose to (this is seen in The Blue and the Green). It doesn't seem unreasonable to assume they could ensure that no record exists of the Lab's location if they chose to, and so we would not know of this tunnel's existence.

The tunnel may have been started near Shepherd's Bush and the geological fault that caused its abandonment discovered after only a short distance, so the tunnel concerned may actually be quite small - it doesn't need to be large for the Lab to be located within it.

So now we have FACTOID THREE: The Lab is located in an abandoned tunnel very near Wood Lane station that was originally intended to form part of an extension of the Victoria Line.

If we examine our next point, we see that The Visitor  indicates that there is a passage to the Lab leading from a trapdoor on the platform of a still functioning London Underground station. This station is a reasonable distance from the Lab, but still within walking distance.

Assuming the Lab is located in or near Wood Lane station, it is most likely that this tunnel comes from either White City or Shepherd's Bush stations as these are the closest to the disused Wood Lane station. There is really no need to examine this issue further as the existence of such a tunnel from a station is not precluded in anyway by FACTOIDS ONE, TWO or THREE.

So we have FACTOID FOUR: There is a tunnel to the Lab from a trapdoor on the platform of a functioning Underground station, most likely Shepherd's Bush or White City stations.

If we accept these four factoids, we have placed the Lab's location in an abandoned tunnel planned as an extension to the Victoria Line at or very near the disused Wood Lane Underground station. These four factoids seem to be reasonable in my opinion, so now we must consider if there is any evidence in the Tomorrow People that contradicts this.

We have very few examples of anyone travelling to or from the Lab where we have any real knowledge of how they travelled or the route they took. One of the few examples we do have is contained in The Visitor when Arlon flees the Lab after having accidentally knocked out the Tomorrow People.

Even in this case we know only a little. But it is enough to help us assess if Arlon's journey is compatible with the location of the Lab at Wood Lane station.

First of all, the facts about Arlon. Arlon is an humanoid alien, a Criton. He is very similar to a human being and he is a small child. He cannot jaunt, and so is limited to mundane means of transportation. Because of his age, it is unlikely he has great endurance.

The Visitor  has this to say on page 74:

Since Arlon could not jaunt by himself he could only have escaped through the tunnel which connected the lab to the underground train system. TIM confirmed that this was indeed so. When the Tomorrow People collapsed, the little fellow, overcome with terror, had bolted through the single exit. All TIM's efforts to persuade him to return had been in vain.

Arlon's escape is further described on page 80:

The little Criton had found his way to the Tube station above the lab, wandered on to a train and off it again somewhere near the docks. Eventually, he fell asleep behind a pile of packing cases on the wharf, where Kenny managed to locate him.

Page 78 of The Visitor describes the place Kenny located him in more precise detail:

Standing stock still, straining for every ounce of concentration, he called Arlon again. There was no answer. Once more he tried, still without success. At the third attempt, it came through again - unmistakably the same picture as before. This time he could see it much more clearly, and at once he recognised the scene. It was a spot on the river he knew well, close to the docks at Poplar.

So we know Arlon left the Lab, travelled through the tunnels to an Underground station, boarded a train, disembarked at another station, and walked to the docks at Poplar. Now we must consider whether or not this journey is reasonable if we have placed the Lab at Wood Lane.

In fact it does seem very reasonable. If we assume that Arlon wandered through the tunnel and emerged at either Shepherd's Bush or White City stations, he would have found himself on the Central Line. If he then boarded a train and travelled along the Central Line to Mile End station before disembarking, he would have emerged quite near the docks at Poplar. It is perfectly reasonable for him to have walked from Mile End to Poplar where Kenny located him.

Conclusion

It seems to me that, if we make a few reasonable assumptions we can place the Lab as being located near the disused Wood Lane station without actually contradicting any canonical or semi-canonical materials. In fact, two pieces of information - the statement in the novelisation of One Law that the Lab is located just around the corner from a bank in Shepherd's Bush and the station sign in The Medusa Strain showing that the station is Wood Lane seem to greatly support the placement of the Lab at this location.

It should be noted that it is not the purpose of this article to state that the Lab was definitely located at Wood Lane station. The fact is we cannot know for certain where the Lab was located. But I do hope this article has demonstrated that Wood Lane station is an excellent possibility when we consider the information we have. By accepting Wood Lane station as the Lab's location, and making a few reasonable assumptions we seem to have a theory that fits the available facts. That is all I believe I can reasonably hope to accomplish.

Comments on this theory would be extremely welcome.

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