Our resident tube lover @tube_boob is understandably excited about the tube’s 150th anniversary. Here they share a few musings on what makes the tube so darn special…
‘Today, the oldest parts of the London Underground celebrate 150 years of operation; a great achievement for the world’s oldest and arguably most interesting underground railway. In this 1862 photograph it’s hard to read the facial expressions. They’re the same sombre faces you’d find in any photo from this period (and indeed any face on the London Underground ever), but I’d hazard a guess that they were feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension. After all, this was a world first.
150 years on, and the Tube has seen all manner of events. It’s hard to believe that carriages were originally pulled by steam engines, until another world first came along in 1890: electric trains. The network now carries a whopping 1.2 billion passengers a year, making it the second busiest in the world behind Shanghai.
During WW2, the London Underground saved lives by sheltering hundreds of thousands of civilians each night during the Blitz, and helping to evacuate 200,000 inner-city children to safety in the countryside. There have been two births on the tube. Three, if you believe Jerry Springer was one of them. Sadly, there have been infinitely more deaths, in such tragic circumstances as suicide (80 per year), escalator accidents, fire, and of course the 2005 suicide bombings.
History is well preserved down here within the tunnels and stations, but it is also created here. The London Underground has starred in more than a few documentary series, video games and Hollywood movies. In Eastenders, Walford East station is kitted out authentically by TfL themselves, and the Royal Mint have honoured the anniversary with two collectable £2 coins. Harry Beck’s widely-copied tube map will go down in history, and the iconic seat cover designs are enjoying a new lease of life as home furnishings and trainers. And with hundreds of Twitter accounts dedicated to our very own London Underground, it really has come out on top. Happy anniversary!’