Well, it’s hard not to notice that the London Underground is 150 years old today. What a feat of Victorian engineering. What a history.
Just thought I’d share my top ten facts:
1. Many tube stations were used as air-raid shelters during the Second World War, but the Central Line was even converted into a fighter aircraft factory that stretched for over two miles, with its own railway system. Its existence remained an official secret until the 1980s.
2. Only 45 per cent of the Underground is actually in tunnels.
3. Aldgate Station, on the Circle and Metropolitan Lines, is built on a massive plague pit, where more than 1,000 bodies are buried.
4. The deepest station is Hampstead on the Northern line, which runs down to 58.5 metres.
5. London Underground has been known as the Tube since 1890 due to the shape of the tunnels.
6. The American talk show host Jerry Springer was born at East Finchley during the Second World War: his mother had taken shelter in the station from an air raid.
7. The inaugural journey of the first Central line train in 1900 had the Prince of Wales and Mark Twain on board.
8. Harry Beck produced the well known Tube map diagram while working as an engineering draughtsman at the London Underground Signals Office. He was reportedly paid 10 guineas (£10.50) for his efforts.
9. The coffin of Dr. Thomas Barnardo was carried in funeral cortege on an underground train in 1905, one of only two occasions this is known to have happened.
10. According to a 2002 study air quality on the Underground was 73 times worse than at street level, with 20 minutes on the Northern Line having “the same effect as smoking a cigarette”.
Happy Birthday! I’m just glad I am no longer a commuter, just a tourist…