Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Underground, overground ...

The part of London where my wife and I live was not served by the London Underground system for many years. The reasons are – I understand – related to the fact that the London and Greenwich Railway (L&GR) was built and opened between 1836 and 1838, and had been extended as far as Woolwich by 1849 ... some five years before the Metropolitan Railway was granted permission to build the first underground railway in London. (The first part of what later became the London Underground system opened in January 1863 and ran between Paddington and Farringdon. It used gas-lit wooden carriages that were pulled by steam locomotives.)

The London and Greenwich Railway was important because:
  • It was the first steam railway in the capital.
  • It was the first to be built specifically for passengers.
  • It was the first elevated railway.
This situation changed when the Jubilee Line was extended as far as North Greenwich in order to connect the newly-built Millennium Dome (now known as the O2 [London]) to the London Underground system.

My family home – where I lived until I was 23 – was situated in one of the outer London suburbs that are served by the London Underground. Our local station was Upminster, which is now the most easterly stop on the District Line. (Upminster has gone down in history for a variety of reasons. It was where the speed of sound was first accurately calculated, Field Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood VC lived there from 1894 until his death in 1919, and it is reputed to have been used as an unofficial government codeword for any idea that was seemingly mad ... because Upminster is several stops past Barking!)

I used to travel on the London Underground a lot whilst I was growing up, and I was often told the story about how a distant member of my had been the first person born on the Underground!

One thing that I became aware of during my travels on the London Underground was the number of stations that had been built and either never been used or had been taken out of service. Recently a map showing these ‘lost’ stations has been published by UsVsTh3m … and very interesting it is too.

16 comments:

  1. Interesting, not seen that map before. I'm surprised it doesn't have the Bakerloo Trafalgar Square on, which I remember from when I was a boy and is now just part of Charing Cross. I suppose it's not technically a disused station just renamed one.

    I do remember going through Mark Lane when travelling between monument and Tower Hill. You could see the abandoned station.

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  2. Something I found very amusing until they removed it and replaced it with an Aer Lingus checkin desk, is that Dublin Airport used to have an underground station in Terminal 1.

    Dublin doesn't have an underground. It was just a station in the middle of nowhere full of boxes of stuff the shops were selling upstairs....

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  3. Legatus Hedlius,

    I must admit that I don't remember Trafalgar Square having a separate underground station although I do remember an entrance in the Square for the Charing Cross underground station.

    Sometimes one can still get a brief glimpse of the old underground stations (usually their platforms) as you pass them.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  4. Arquinsiel,

    Somehow your story does not surprise me. It should ... but it doesn't.

    Glasgow has the second largest underground railway system in the UK ... but Edinburgh does not have an underground. The closest it gets is its as-yet-to-be-finished tram system ... which has been an on-off project since 2007. (The original Edinburgh Tram system ran from 1871 to 1956.) It may get finished one day ... but who knows when.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. The map doesn't show Hob's Lane or Sumatra Road :)

    (Lost Fictional Stations on the London Underground - an article waiting to be written :) )

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  6. I still have an old A-Z which shows Strand and Trafalgar Square as separate stations. You can also still see where Museum was on the Central Line if the train slows.

    You might be interested in these maps which show the 'real' shape of the network
    http://www.steveprentice.net/tube/TfLSillyMaps/geographical_map.jpg and
    http://www.steveprentice.net/tube/TfLSillyMaps/tubegeo.jpg

    This map has anagrams for the station names -
    http://www.maproom.co.uk/maps/anagrammap.gif

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  7. Kaptain Kobold,

    You have been watching too many episodes of Quatermass and Sherlock!

    Good luck with the article. I look forward to reading it.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  8. Nigel Drury,

    Thanks for the links. I hope to look at them tomorrow morning.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. Coincidentally, my son told me recently that where we live, Leigh-on-Sea, was once on the District Line. In the days of steam, the electric rails stopped at Upminster so the underground trains were connected to steam trains (Tilbury tanks) for the rest of the journey.

    In summer they still run steam trains as excursions on the line. It's quite a sight from the top of the cliffs seeing them puffing along the marshes between Benfleet and Leigh.

    Cheers

    Nick (who's not really a trainspotter!)

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  10. Nic101,

    Your son is absolutely right. The District Line ran alongside the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, with Upminster being the point where electric power ended.

    I can remember steam locos pulling trains through Upminster on their way to Barking and Fenchurch Street ... and it is nice to know that they still run steam excursions along part of the London to Southend line.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. I see the Royal Mail may be re-opening their old miniature underground railway for tourists. Glad to see it was mothballed rather than scrapped completely.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-25145632

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  12. Trafalgar Square on the Bakerloo line became known as Charing Cross. Strand on the Northern Line also was renamed Charing Cross. The original Charing Cross was renamed Embankment!

    This was all to do with the Jubilee Line extension...

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  13. Nigel Drury,

    I saw that news item on the BBC website ... but somehow I don't think I will be paying it a visit as it is a bit too small for my comfort.

    One thing that I did not cover was the underground tunnels that were built but never used. I know of some that are now used for secure storage ... but there are rumours of others that are secret.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  14. Legatus Hedlius,

    That explains it! I had thought that Embankment Station had originally been named Charing Cross ... but decided that it was just a mistaken memory.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  15. This description of the deep level shelter tunnels, originally envisaged to form stations for a deep level express system covers some of that

    http://underground-history.co.uk/shelters.php

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  16. Nigel Drury,

    Thanks yet again for another interesting link.

    There are a lot of tunnels under London that are relatively unknown to the general public.

    All the best,

    Bob

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