My posting onto the London Shoes website for last week’s quite exhausting jaunt out, focusses a subject matter that anyone living, working, passing through or just visiting London, will have ‘touched’ and experienced at some stage – and that is the “London Underground”.
Now – as this is such a vast topic, I intend to present coverage by way of a series of mini-blogs throughout the coming months – but for this particular posting I have centered on some of the lesser known and more unusual ‘not a lot of people know that’ type of fascinating-facts, of what is the oldest and still one of the biggest underground railways networks on the planet.
To start with I will simply reel-off some of the amazing historical and statistical ‘facts’ about this city’s iconic underground/tube network:-
General ‘Tube’ facts:-
The very first Underground Railway in London opened on 10th January 1863 and it ran from Paddington to Farringdon via Baker Street.
The underground network became known as the “Tube” as early as the beginning of the 1900’s, as this was an abbreviation “The Twopenny Tube”, which was the name given to the Central Line because all fares cost tuppence.
Today, the London Underground network consists of 11 lines, with over 250 miles of track – where 270 stations service up to 5 million passenger journeys per day.
Although it’s universally known as the ‘Underground’, 55% of the tube network is actually situated above ground.
Out of its 270 stations, there are only 29 of them located south of the River Thames
So let’s now look at some “not a lot of people know that” type facts of just some its stations:-
Has 2 ‘claims-to-fame’.
It has the Underground’s longest escalator at 60m, with a vertical rise of 27.5m. It is actually the 4th longest tube escalator in Western Europe
Also – the southbound platform at Angel is the widest platform of the tube network.
(Circle – Hammersmith & City – Bakerloo – Jubilee lines)
Baker Street station has the most platforms of any other tube station of the underground network – 10 in total – because it is a station where a number of the individual lines converge or cross over.
(Central – Waterloo & City – Northern line & linked to Docklands Light Railway)
Bank station has a total of 12 exits/entrances – the most of any tube station of the underground network.
Hampstead is the deepest station of the tube network.
At 58m below ground – it’s deeper than Nelson’s Column is high, and that’s deep.
When it was opened in 1907, it was designed be named ‘Heath Street’ – but a decision was made at the very last minute to name it as just Hampstead – and to this day, the original tile notices on the platform, still say ‘Heath Street’ – now not a lot of people know that!!
(Jubilee Line & Northern Line)
London Bridge station is the only one throughout the entire tube network to actually have the word ‘London’ in its title.
(District / Circle lines)
Has the unique distinction of being the only station where a river runs ‘over’ the top of it.
The ‘River Westbourne’ literally runs through the station – it is re-directed by piping contained within its own little iron bridge which is suspended over the platforms.
(Central Line – Jubilee – DLR – London Overground)
Stratford has 2 ‘claims-to-fame’.
It has the shortest escalator on the entire tube network, with a rise of only 4.1m – you can spit further than that!!
Another claim to fame for Stratford station is that it is one of only 2 underground stations where, on the westbound Central Line platforms – the doors of the carriages open on both sides.
(District Line – Hammersmith & City Line)
Barking station is the other tube station where the carriage doors open on both sides. The doors open on both sides of the train on the eastbound District line platforms.
(Bakerloo – Jubilee – Waterloo & City – Northern lines)
Has a huge total of ‘23’ escalators in service – the most by far, of any other tube station on the London Underground
(District / Hammersmith & City / London Overground)
Whitechapel is a weird one, living in its own back-to-front world, because the Overground line is actually underground – and the Underground lines are actually overground – the only station of the tube network where this happens!!
LEICESTER SQUARE to COVENT GARDEN
(Northern Line / Piccadilly Line)
The ‘shortest’ journey on the underground is Leicester Square to Covent Garden, where the distance between the 2 stations is roughly 980ft – and bearing in mind the cheapest fare on the tube is £4.50, then that’s an expensive journey…..much cheaper and more practical to get on your trotters and walk.
So – having slaughtered my faithful old 60+Oyster Card, trekking all over the London Underground, I decided to pop in to ‘The Spotted Dog’ pub in Barking, just a few yards from the station, and very close to where I grew up in Ilford – It’s a pub that I used to frequent quite a bit in my yoof some 45+ years ago, especially when on route to Upton Park to watch my beloved ‘Hammers’ play, back in the good old days.
It was a rough old joint back then, and my God, it’s no better today .
Anyway, the ‘Dog’ was built in 1870, and its haunted cellars are said to be full of secret tunnels leading to what were once nearby docks down at Barking Creek and Dagenham – and used by smugglers to hide and their swag.
The pub used to be the ‘local’ for railway workers, and there are still a number of rail related artefacts on display in there, from days gone by.
Anyway – hope you found Part 1 of all this tube stuff interesting, and you enjoyed the accompanying photos.
Now…..’mind the gap’ please