It can’t have escaped your notice that the London Underground has recently celebrated its 150th anniversary . As well as being something of a Skyscraper geek, and I’ll come clean to being something of a trainspotter in my childhood – (oh the shame! ). So I’ll also admit to knowing bit about the Tube.
Back in the 70’s
My memories extend back to the 1970’s, when I remember travelling into London as a child with my Mum and sister to go and meet my Dad in his office in St James’s via Green Park station. I can remember the excitement of the tube – the classic art deco design, the long escalators taking deep underground, the long tube-shaped footpaths, and of course the tube trains themselves snaking their way beneath the capital, the novelty of their automatic sliding doors (still some years away one the overground). I loved the whole experience. I also have fond memories of my first visit to the London Transport Museum as an eleven year old when it first opened in Covent Garden in 1980. And of course I’ve been back there several times since, most recently taking my own children.
Pioneering Underground Railways
Of course the Tube “enjoys” a reputation for being dirty, crowded and clapped out, but I’ve never shaken off the excitement of my youth. I don’t have to use Tube everyday – perhaps I’d feel differently if I were a regular commuter. I still find it incredible that the first Tube line was built 150 years ago, when the idea of a subterranean railway would have seemed like fantasy for most Londoners. And the pictures of the early tube tunnels being dug do look like complete and utter madness – they’d give today’s health and safety officer nightmares! But of course the idea took off, and London’s underground network became the model that the rest of the world followed – from the New York Subway to Singapore’s MRT – even the Singapore MRT map is clearly inspired by the London original.
So in honour of the Tube’s anniversary, I thought I’d share some of the good stuff I’d found on the web about the Tube in the past in the past couple of weeks.
Describing itself as an unofficial blog cataloging “some of the network’s finest features, sensations and oddities”, it does what i says on the tin – The artwork on the disused platform at Gloucester Road to the sloping travelator to the Waterloo and City line at Bank station. Loads of photos!
At the other end of the spectrum TFL’s official page for the 150th. TFL have a Facebook page with a timeline of the Tube’s history
This is fabulous! Here are a couple of examples: “A 40-minute tube journey is said to be the equivalent of smoking two cigarettes” and “Aldgate station on top of a massive pit containing 1000 victims of the 1665 bubonic plague!” Gruesome!
BBC News video of a “steam tube” talking real ticket holding passengers along the original tube line – the Metropolitan (now the Hammersmith and City line)
I couldn’t leave that out, could I?