Posts Tagged ‘anniversary’

metropolitan railway, underground railway, paddington station, w e gladstone

A trial run on the Metropolitan Railway near Paddington station shortly before opening in January 1863. The gentleman with his elbow on the side of the truck in the foreground is W E Gladstone, future Prime Minister but Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time.

The London Underground, or the Tube, was the world’s first underground railway. On 9 January 1863, a train puffed out of Paddington (Bishops Road) station* bound for Farringdon, three and a half miles away under the streets of London. The next day the line was opened to the general public. It was an immediate success; almost 40,000 passengers were carried, and long queues formed at every station. The Tube was born and London would never be the same again.

(* Now the Hammersmith & City underground station)

The line was built in 33 months using the ‘cut and cover’ method (the tunnels were dug from the surface and then covered again) by the Metropolitan Railway, and cost £1.7m. The Metropolitan was a private company formed in 1854 to link the mainline stations at Paddington, Euston, and King’s Cross with the growing City business district to the east. The line now forms part of the Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines.

metropolitan railway, london underground, baker street, anniversary

Metropolitan locomotive No 1 built in 1898, pulls a train through Baker Street underground station on 13 January 2013, led by restored Met carriage No 353 which was built in 1892,

This year, to celebrate the 150th anniversary, London Transport arranged many events starting with re-enactments on Sunday 13 January of the original journey using a 1898 steam locomotive (trains were steam-powered until the first electric locomotive was introduced in 1890) and restored carriages. Unsurprisingly the limited number of seats that were available, £180 first class, £150 second class, were sold out months before the event.

The London Underground seems to have a fascination worldwide. As well as a huge variety of gifts, souvenirs and memorabilia on sale at the London Transport Museum shop, there are any number of books, DVDs and websites about the Tube.  And questions about the Underground, often in the form of cryptic clues, always crop up in pub quizzes. On the anniversary, as if to confirm this interest, the Daily Telegraph ran a feature,150 Fascinating Tube Facts. I’ve selected five of the facts from the list, and added some details (in green) of my own.



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