What was the Underground Railroad and how did it work?
- During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North. The name “Underground Railroad” was used metaphorically, not literally. It was not an actual railroad, but it served the same purpose—it transported people long distances.
When did smoking stop on London underground?
In 1985, smoking was banned on underground platforms, but not on those above ground. A few years later in 1987, smoking in stations and on trains was banned for a six-month trial period, and the full ban was finally enacted later that year when the King’s Cross fire killed 31 people on November 18 1987.
Did they use steam trains on London underground?
Steam locomotive, 1866 When the world’s first underground railway opened in London in 1863, the only trains available were steam powered. Coke was used instead of coal as it creates less smoke, and there were ‘blow holes’ at intervals around the railway, but the atmosphere underground was still very unpleasant.
How long did it take to complete the first electric subway line of Europe back in 1896?
It took a little less than two years to build an electric underground railway: the Budapest Metro Line No. 1 system. The first such railway in continental Europe, it began operating in 1896.
Where did the soil from the London underground go?
They dug another hole to put it in. They dug a big hole and buried it. As an aside, the soil from the construction of The Royal Docks was shipped upstream and used to fill in the marshy area where Battersea Park now stands.
When did they ban smoking on planes?
In 1988, airlines based in the United States banned smoking on domestic flights of less than two hours, which was extended to domestic flights of less than six hours in February 1990, and to all domestic and international flights in 2000.
When did they ban smoking on buses?
London Transport Buses: Smoking Ban (Hansard, 13 March 1991 )
How were the first underground trains powered?
Early years The world’s first underground railway, it opened in January 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives. It was hailed as a success, carrying 38,000 passengers on the opening day, and borrowing trains from other railways to supplement the service.
When did London Underground go electric?
On 18 December 1890, the world’s first electric railway deep underground was opened. It ran from King William Street in the City of London, under the River Thames, to Stockwell.
When did London Underground stop using steam trains?
However, 22 and 23 June 2019 saw the final time a heritage steam train will travel on the Underground in central London — owing to the installation of a new signalling system on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.
What city is home to Europe’s oldest subway line?
London and the world’s oldest subways (1863) The underground or tube in London is the oldest transport system of its kind in the world. It opened on 10th January 1863 with steam locomotives. Today, there’s an underground network of 408 kilometres of active lines that will take you anywhere in the city.
What is the oldest underground in the world?
The Metropolitan line is the oldest underground railway in the world. The Metropolitan Railway opened in January 1863 and was an immediate success, though its construction took nearly two years and caused huge disruption in the streets. Read more about the Metropolitan line.
What is the oldest subway system in the world?
The London Underground is the oldest metro system in the world, with services operating from 1890.
Where does the spoil from Crossrail go?
99% of the material has been reused or recycled with half being donated to the RSPB for Wallasea and the remainder used for agricultural land and recreational facilities.
Who dug the London Underground?
Construction of the City and South London Railway (C&SLR) was started in 1886 by James Henry Greathead using a development of Barlow’s shield. Two 10-foot-2-inch (3.10 m) circular tunnels were dug between King William Street (close to today’s Monument station) and Elephant and Castle.
How deep is the London Underground?
The deepest station is Hampstead on the Northern line, which runs down to 58.5 metres. 15. In Central London the deepest station below street level is also the Northern line. It is the DLR concourse at Bank, which is 41.4 metres below.
The History of the Underground
“The History of the Underground” was awarded first place in the Obermayer Prize for Writing for the Public, which is a component of the Ilona Karmel Writing Prizes for the first time this year. You are standing on a platform beneath Baker Street, yet there is plenty of natural light streaming in through the arched roof’s glass panels and into your surroundings. However, you can hear a rhythmic rumble originating from deep within the tunnel, even if the train is nowhere to be found at this time.
The booming gets louder and louder as time goes by.
The steam locomotive then comes into full view, gracefully pulling up to the platform and halting.
You re-examine your 3rd class ticket and are relieved to see that you are standing on the correct portion of the station this time.
- But it doesn’t matter since you are pleased with where you are.
- Once you’ve entered the tunnel, the windows turn completely dark.
- The air is humid and muggy, with a faint scent of cigarette smoke in the background.
- Nonetheless, after a few of pauses, the sulfuric odor becomes increasingly intolerable.
- After coming to a stop, the train comes to a halt and a person on the platform calls out: King’s Cross.
- You chance to see someone reading a newspaper across the carriage and decide to take a picture of them.
- The year is 1863, and the date is January 10, 1863.
The Metropolitan Railway was the creation of Charles Pearson, an attorney in the City of London who had a vision for the city’s transportation system.
During this period, the fast growth of intercity railways could be observed.
The London and Croydon Railway, which opened its south bank terminal at London Bridge in 1836, was the first railway to connect the capital with the rest of the country.
The frenzied era of construction of railways into London by numerous firms resulted in the high concentration of train stations in central London that exists today — about 20 stations in all.
What was considered metropolitan London consisted of only two areas: the City of London (which currently serves as a skyscraper-dominated financial center) and Westminster (which served as a royal palace) (where government and theaters are located).
The selection of locations for these stations is pretty comparable to that of airports nowadays – they are located far away from the city.
The government at the time chose to prohibit railway development within the city, most likely due to the fact that it was an eyesore to the city’s attractiveness.
As a result, the million-dollar question was how to move passengers from the major London terminals into the real city.
All of the major railway companies who were interested in transporting their customers into the heart of the city were enthusiastically supportive of the project.
According to historical records, the Metropolitan Railway’s initial section of track was built from London’s Paddington Station to Farringdon.
Pancras and as far north as King’s Cross.
It was led by engineer Sir John Fowler and carried out using a technique known as “cut-and-cover.” It is precisely what the name implies: a trench was dug beneath the surface of the road, which was eventually covered to make a passageway.
Houses were demolished in areas where the railway had to pass below them.
Moreover, where the line crossed rivers or subterranean streams, the waters were channeled and controlled by steel pipes that were later transformed into sewers.
The final product had been completed.
In our current world, this would be considered an odd choice to make in a rather contained room with no ventilation.
Horses couldn’t draw more than one wagon at a time.
When they saw the dark tunnels, they would stress out and transport dung into the subterranean as well.
A unique type of fine coal was employed, and a water-cooling tank was expanded, as well as massive ventilation shafts, among other things.
More ventilation tunnels were constructed, fans were installed, and the glass ceilings of Baker Street station were breached to allow for more air flow.
A voyage underground was memorably defined by the Times as “a minor type of torment that no one would put themselves through if they could avoid it.” However, the reality is that most individuals couldn’t help themselves.
Traveling in first or second class carriages, city clerks (white collars) made their way to the city from their pleasant suburban homes, while the working class made their way to the city from their leased housing in the third class.
Workers in the Victorian era weren’t too fussed about needing to get up early in the morning.
Prior to the introduction of the subterranean trains, many of them had to walk more than an hour to go to work, as walking was the only mode of transportation accessible to them at the time.
London commuters were not able to breathe properly in a tunnel until the year 1890, when a tunnel that was not clogged with smoke was finally constructed for them.
Electricity was used as a source of power, rather than steam, for the first time on a subterranean train system.
Following a period of comfortable lying down, it may be moved forward in a horizontal direction, with employees standing on scaffolds within the cylinder, excavating away dirt in the foreground of the cylinder.
Interestingly enough, the Greathead shield was inspired by the Brunel shield, which was constructed by the French genius Marc Isambard Brunel in order to build the Thames Tunnel in 1826, which was the world’s first underwater tunnel (a pedestrian tunnel).
Because of the initial success of the Underground in London, railway magnates and city officials from across Europe and the United States were interested in constructing their own underground railway systems.
It wasn’t until 1881, when Werner von Siemens constructed the world’s first electric tram line in Berlin, that everything changed.
Later that year, in the hilly city of Richmond, America received the world’s first electric tram service.
He installed a third rail on the ground to transmit energy to the tram’s motor, which was a first for the company.
This rod also had another purpose, which was to ensure that the tram would not run off the rails, which would cause traffic to snarl.
It was in 1887 that Henry Whitney, the king of Boston streetcars (again, horse-drawn trams on rails) and owner of enormous tracts of land in Brookline, who was already aware of Sprague’s trials, submitted the first proposal for an electric subway system in the city.
The horse-drawn private carriages, horse-drawn omnibuses, and horse-drawn streetcars that clogged Tremont Street from dawn to dusk and completely blocked the way for horse-drawn ambulances and horse-drawn fire trucks in an emergency all came to a grinding halt as they passed one another with so little space between them.
- That more ambitious goal had to be realized by the mayor, Nathan Matthews Jr., and his team.
- An overwhelming majority of individuals were opposed to the thought of going into the underworld before their time was up.
- The building was completed in 1896.
- The southern and eastern sides of Boston Common were soon demolished as a result of the devastation.
- It was a major undertaking.
- Another tragedy occurred on March 4, 1897, when development of the subway system resulted in the rupture of a gas pipe beneath Tremont and Boylston, culminating in an explosion that killed ten people who were passing by the intersection.
- And it opened its doors just six months later.
They arrived in a vehicle with the license plate number 1752, driven by James Reed.
When it arrived at the entry to the subway just before Arlington, it was welcomed by a large crowd of people, many of whom were standing on the edge of the vehicle with their heads, arms, and legs hanging outside the car.
When the courageous travellers arrived, they were treated with a delightful surprise.
Furthermore, the air they were inhaling was even better than the air they were breathing above ground.
Several passengers were so taken with the journey that they refused to leave when the vehicle arrived at its final destination, Park Street.
Both London and Boston saw significant territorial expansion in the century (and a half) after the establishment of their respective underground train systems.
There are no longer any dignitaries, merchants, laborers, prostitutes, or ordinary thieves jammed into what used to be known as London’s city proper, a small area of slightly more than a square mile.
It has a population of only 9401 people as of now.
The ordinary people would have been stuck in a tiny radius around the city center if there had not been a speedy and economical mode of transportation, and they would have been destined to toil their way to work on their two feet for the rest of their lives.
Trains in the subway system The New York Times, January 11th, 1863 The Metropolitan (underground) Railway was officially opened to the public yesterday, and hundreds of thousands of people were able to satisfy their curiosity about this means of transportation that runs beneath the streets of the capital city. It was necessary to start running the trains from the Paddington (Bishop’s-road) station as early as six o’clock in order to accommodate working people, and there was a large number of people from that class who took advantage, in order to get to and from their places of employment, on the new railway.
From this time on, and throughout the morning, every station became suffocatingly crowded with anxious travellers who were admitted in sections; however, those who ventured to take their tickets at any point below Baker-street had little chance of getting a seat, as the occupants were primarily “long distance,” or terminus, passengers, with only a few notable exceptions.
If the collection of numbers is any indication, King’s cross station, which is unquestionably the most beautiful station on the line, puts even the termini in the shadow, was perhaps the most popular stop for visitors.
Yesterday, the gas burned brightly throughout every journey, and in some cases, the gas was turned on so strongly in the first-class carriages, each of which had two burners, that when the carriages were stationary, newspapers could be read with ease; however, when the carriages were in motion, the draft through the apertures of the lamps created so much flickering that such a feat was extremely difficult.
While the second-class carriages are very tastefully appointed with leathered chairs and are really comfortable, overcrowding is impossible in the first-class trains because of the compartments and arms.
To summarize, on one of the excursions between Portland Road and Baker Street, not only were the passengers immersed in steam, but it is quite unlikely that they were not also subjected to the discomfort of smoke as well.
There had been approximately 25,000 people transported over the line up to six o’clock, and it is heartening to note that, despite the eagerness with which the public crowded into the carriages, even while the trains were in motion, there had been no single accident of any kind reported up to that time.
Tube is an abbreviation for the London Underground, which is an underground railway system serving the London metropolitan region. A sign displaying the London Underground’s iconic roundel emblem in front of a subway station in the capital city of London. Thinkstock Images/Jupiterimages are trademarks of Thinkstock Images. Soon after the inauguration of the Thames Tunnel in 1843, a city solicitor named Charles Pearson suggested the creation of the London Underground as part of a comprehensive city improvement plan.
- Building the Metropolitan Railway began in 1860 with cut-and-cover methods: trenches were dug along the streets, brick sides were added, girders or an arch of brick was built for the roof, and then the highway was rebuilt on top of it.
- Despite the presence of sulfurous gases, the line was a huge success from the start, transporting 9.5 million people in its first year of operations.
- Photograph courtesy of Philip Lange/Shutterstock.com The City of London and Southwark Subway Company (later known as the City and South London Railway) began construction on the “tube” line in 1866, using a tunneling shield designed by J.H.
- The route was completed in 1870.
- Although the initial concept planned for cable operation, electric traction was eventually installed before the line could be officially inaugurated.
- Upon his arrival in London in 1900, Charles Tyson Yerkes, an American railway entrepreneur, oversaw the building of more tube railroads as well as the electrification of the cut-and-cover lines, which he later oversaw.
- During World Wars I and II, stations served as air raid shelters, and the tunnels of the now-defunct Aldwych spur line were used to store exhibits from the British Museum during the latter period.
- London Underground The Mary Evans Photographic Collection After being nationalized by the London Transport Executive in 1948, the London Underground became a publicly owned and operated system.
- When the Underground was privatized in 2003, the operation of the system was transferred to Transport for London, a public corporation that supplies the Underground with human resources like as conductors and station staff.
- London Underground customers are advised to “watch the space” between the station platform and the trains, according to a sign posted at the station.
- By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the system carried more than one billion people each year.
In 2010, as part of its continuous modernization of its rolling stock, the Underground introduced its first air-conditioned vehicles for the first time. Amy Tikkanen has made the most current revisions and updates to this page.
A history of the London Underground – CBBC Newsround
- It first opened its doors on January 9, 1843.
- One hundred and fifty thousand individuals passed through the tunnel on its first day of operation.
- The world’s first subterranean train system was built in London.
- The Metropolitan Train Company opened the world’s first subterranean railway system on January 10, 1863.
- A large number of additional lines would be added to the Underground train network over time, although the most of it was constructed within the next 50 years.
- The first steam train to pass through the Thames Tunnel.
- Eventually, enough money had been generated by visitors visiting the tunnel to allow it to be expanded to accommodate the transportation of freight under the river.
In addition, because the tunnel was built beneath a river, there were no ventilation shafts to allow smoke to exit the tunnel, which resulted in a significant buildup of smoke within the tunnel, which was not pleasant for the train drivers who had to operate in it.
The world’s first electric train runs far below for the first time.
Discover how a remarkable contraption enabled construction workers to tunnel beneath London.
It ran from King William Street in the City of London, beneath the River Thames, and into Stockwell, where it was decommissioned in 2011.
As a result of the use of electric trains, tunnels could be built far deeper below and even ride on top of one another.
There are 29 stations in total, each of which is shared with another Tube line.
The year 1908 marked the beginning of the widespread adoption of the iconic circle logo.
For the first time, the term “Underground” appeared in a station, and the world’s first electric ticket machine was also installed.
Technological breakthroughs would have a profound impact on the Underground in the years to come.
Where did the map of the Tube come from?
The colorful map showing all of the lines on the Tube is one of the most well-known visuals linked with the system.
As opposed to sketching the Tube lines exactly where they were geographically located, he based his design on an electrical circuit diagram.
They were an instant hit, and additional maps had to be bought within a month of their release!
According to legend, the Bakerloo line was established as a result of businessmen’s complaints that they couldn’t get to and from Lord’s Cricket Ground fast enough!
This photograph depicts Londoners taking cover on a platform at Bounds Green tube station on October 6, 1940, as well as what the station looks like now.
Many people spent many nights sleeping on platforms in order to avoid the bombs that were raining on London from the sky above.
Today’s tube system Photographs courtesy of Getty Images Hundreds of tube trains are now in service across London’s subterranean network.
In 2007, the world’s oldest subterranean railway network celebrated the achievement of transporting one billion people in a single year for the first time.
In order to create the first new line of the London Subterranean in over 50 years, a massive project known as Crossrail – Europe’s largest underground construction project – is now underway. The Underground network now comprises 270 stations and 11 lines, which is an increase over the previous year.
London Underground: the dirtiest place in the city
If you are one of the 4.8 million passengers who use the London Underground on a daily basis, you may believe that you are dodging the environmental hazards of road travel, which include exhaust fumes and soot. However, this is not the case. The truth, however, is rather different. The Tube is by far the most polluted portion of the city, despite the fact that its health effects have been rarely examined and publicized (apart from a handful of recent scientific articles), despite the fact that its health dangers have been poorly studied and publicized.
This has created an unhealthy environment that is stirred up by passing trains and breathed by passengers.
The investigation, which used hundreds of measurements across 75 tunnel segments within Zone 1 in central London, discovered that pollution levels on the Underground are dangerously high — in some cases, up to ten times higher than the World Health Organization’s guidelines in some areas of the network.
- “These are startling and concerning discoveries.
- “We have to do something about this horrendous quantity of stale air.
- PM2.5 particles are roughly one-thirtieth the diameter of a human hair and have the ability to penetrate deep into the lungs.
- According to a research conducted by King’s College, long-term exposure to air pollution causes more than 9,000 premature deaths in London each year.
- London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, claims that having the world’s oldest subway system has resulted in a significant amount of particulate matter being released underneath.
- The data, on the other hand, indicates that the air underneath is extremely contaminated.
A similar conclusion was reached by the Financial Times’ investigation, which found that the Central line — one of the most heavily trafficked and deepest routes in the country, passing through stations such as Marble Arch, Oxford Street, and St Paul’s — was the most polluted, and that air quality deteriorated as trains moved deeper into the tunnels.
- It’s “very alarming,” says Brynmor Saunders, the paper’s main author from King’s College in Boston.
- The typical Londoner’s exposure to PM2.5 particles is effectively doubled by using the Tube for one hour every day, according to the government.
- Air on the Tube, according to Transport for London (TfL), is “completely safe.” It has commissioned two huge scientific investigations — one from King’s College and the other from Imperial College — to look into the matter further.
- “There is no doubt that there is a significant problem.
- The Transport for London (TfL) “should be rearranging the heavens and the earth” to find answers and alert people about the dangers, he continues.
- They work on strict timetables to ensure that morning services run on time.
- He is standing on the northbound platform at Warwick Avenue on the Bakerloo line, shortly after 1am, and says the juice has been turned off.
During the night between stations, cleaners work in groups of around ten people, using face masks, headlamps, and reflective orange jackets, to scrape and spray the floors, walls, and rails while wearing reflective orange jackets.
More than 1,000 people are employed in the maze of tunnels beneath London’s streets, yet it would take years to travel the full 400-kilometer network.
He yanks out a clump of black fluff from beneath the Warwick Avenue train station’s subway platform.
Cleaning crews are working everywhere around him, using brushes and hoovers that they carry on their backpacks to clear dust from the tunnel.
Cleanup efforts on the Tube did not become a priority until after the 1987 King’s Cross fire, which claimed the lives of 31 people.
The majority of the cleaning was done with fire prevention in mind.
In the words of Duncan Weir, head of track at Transport for London, “Air quality is now part of our thinking, while it wasn’t before.” The London Underground, which spends £60 million a year on cleaning, conducted tests that revealed that washing the tubes has a significant influence on the air quality at specific platforms.
- When cleaning tunnels that are really unclean and ancient, it is possible that the cleaning could actually make the air quality worse since the cleaning will mix up microscopic particles.
- However, following the study, it was shown that the level of PM2.5 particles in the air at nine of the 15 stations had increased.
- However, a spokeswoman stated that it was hard to determine whether the air quality has improved or decreased over the whole network during the last few years.
- “You’d want to be able to take a train down here and wash your car as you would at a genuine car wash,” Mr Weir adds, adding that the train had certain drawbacks.
- Initially, coal-fired steam engines were used to power the Underground trains when the system first opened its doors in 1863.
- According to the Financial Times, the air inside the train was still tainted by smoke and soot from the coal engine, but today these lines are on average 2.5 times less polluting than the deeper lines.
- Deep “tube” railroads, which were created underground by drilling tubes, became possible about the same time that technological breakthroughs enabled the building of deep tunnel railways.
Engineers felt that the fact that the trains are nearly as large as the tunnels would result in a piston-like force as they move, which would be sufficient to maintain fresh air flowing through the system However, when dust collected, the piston effect began to carry the tiny, most harmful particles through the air instead of the larger ones.
- According to the report, air quality in the tunnels is 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air (PM2.5), which is 20 times worse than roadside air quality in London.
- “Are these particles more or less harmful to the human body?” wonders Thomas Smith, an assistant professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science who collaborated on the latest research.
- Studies of subway systems ranging from Toronto to New York to Seoul have consistently found that air pollution is higher under ground than above ground, regardless of the location.
- TfL notes that the air quality on the London Underground is within the criteria set by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive for occupational exposure.
- However, the maximum amount is hundreds of times greater than the WHO’s recommended threshold of exposure.
- It “beggared belief,” according to Marc Ottolini, the chief executive of Airlabs, an air filtration business, that the government set a threshold “two orders of magnitude” higher than WHO norms.
- Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that there is no “safe” level of exposure to PM2.5 and that its guidelines are focused on reducing risk to the greatest extent possible.
Methodology: how the findings were generated
Financial Times reporters utilized two handheld devices to track levels of pollution inside the carriages on all of the lines in Zone 1 of the London Underground system in order to measure air quality on the system. A Plantower device and a Plume Labs device were used to measure fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which is regarded the most hazardous to human health since the small particles may pass through lungs and into the bloodstream. The study covered 75 lengths of track between 53 stations, encompassing every station on the Circle line and requiring at least four readings for each part of track.
- All of the readings were taken in the second compartment of the train, between the hours of 10 a.m.
- The air sensors employed in the research were meant to measure external air, and they were not calibrated to account for the unique composition of the air inside the Tube.
- Despite the fact that our values were far lower than those obtained by earlier scientific research, the patterns remained the same.
- According to Simon Birkett, director of Clean Air London, PM2.5 is the “best single indicator” for assessing the health impacts of air pollution, and the levels reported by the Financial Times are “by any criteria extremely high.” Our pollution data is available as a CSV file for download.
Public transport in Victorian London – underground
The world’s first tunnel under a river, constructed by engineer Marc Isambard Brunel between Wapping and Rotherhithe in 1843, was the world’s first tunnel under a river. One of the most important components of Brunel’s project was a device known as a shield, which supported the soft ground during excavation while also sheltering the miners. Brunel demonstrated that tunneling beneath London was conceivable, but that a more efficient approach was necessary to be developed. The Thames Tunnel, which was originally meant for car traffic, cost a lot to construct and took over 20 years to complete before it was finally opened to pedestrians exclusively.
- James Greathead, a former student of his, was hired to construct the shield that would be required to complete the task.
- A watertight door was located in the center of the closed end, from which two miners could remove the dirt by hand from the surrounding area.
- The newly excavated length of tunnel was then lined with cast-iron parts to form a cylinder, or ‘tube,’ which was then filled with concrete.
- The railway was forced to cease in November 1870 due to the unreliability of the cable traction technology utilized, but the tunnel is still in use today, carrying telecommunications cables.
- Electric motors made it feasible to build the CitySouth London Railway (C SLR), the world’s first deep-level electric railway, in London’s City South.
- The C SLR, which runs between King William Street in the City and suburban Stockwell, first opened its doors in November 1890, with a pair of 3 metre diameter tunnels connecting them.
- Traction trains were comprised of three carriages and were pulled by diesel engines.
- At the end of each carriage, guards yelled out station names and opened and closed the gates for passengers as they arrived and descended the aisle.
- In common with many pioneering endeavors, it was not without its difficulties, which were mostly caused by the tunnels’ limited space, underpowered locomotives, and a power source that struggled to keep up with the volume of traffic.
- Numerous more ideas to construct “tunnel” railways followed, but collecting funds from wary investors remained a persistent challenge.
- Greathead’s shield was used by both lines.
Jan 10, 1863: The London Underground opens with gas-lit, steam-powered trains between Paddington & Farrington
On a trial voyage on the London Metropolitan Underground train, commuters wave their hats in the air as they pass by Portland Road station, circa 1863. Cassell’s ‘Old and New London’ is a good example of this. Featured image courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty Images. Photograph courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty Images of an illustration from Walter Thornbury’s “Old and New London” shows joyful commuters on a testing run on the London Metropolitan Underground train system.
On this day in 1863 the London Underground opened with gas-lit, steam-powered trains between PaddingtonFarrington; a novel solution and much anticipated remedy to the commuter congestion suffocating business in the city.
During the early nineteenth century, train terminals were located on the outskirts of London, with no direct access to the city core. Customers and travelers connecting to other train lines had little alternative but to go through small and winding streets on horseback, in a horse-drawn omnibus, or in a horse-drawn taxi; or they might walk the distance. Traffic grew intolerable as more people relocated to London, and business suffered as a result. For transportation planners trying to relieve gridlock, convoluted land ownership proved to be a logistical headache, on top of space limits.
Last but not least, City Solicitor Charles Pearson presented an unusual solution: burying the railway beneath the city using cutting-edge engineering techniques.
The Metropolitan Railway Company began construction on the world’s first underground railway in 1860, after being granted permission to do so.
The tunnels were constructed using the ‘cut-and-cover’ method, which consisted of digging a deep trench into the earth, then building brick walls to support the tunnel, and then covering the tunnel with brick arches and roofs so that the roads could be repaved above it.
The new subterranean railway elicited a variety of responses.
The project was derisively referred to as ‘The Drain’ at dance halls, and some feared that people on the streets would fall in and be crushed, or that commuters would asphyxiate below; or, worst of all, that such an outlandish monstrosity would pierce an entrance into hell.
With the introduction of ‘condensing engines,’ the Metropolitan Railway Company promised smooth rides and a smoke and steam-free environment for passengers.
On January 9, 1863, a celebratory banquet was hosted underground at Farringdon Station.
on the morning of January 10th.
Gas lamps were used to illuminate all of the carriages, with the brightest lights being used in first class to allow passengers to read comfortably.
Soon, hordes of passengers swarmed the stations and ticket offices, eager to ride the subterranean train for the first time on its inaugural day.
Each train was filled to capacity — passengers ignored 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class destinations in order to take up whatever available space on the train that happened to be available.
By the end of the day, over 38,000 individuals had used the subway trains and expressed their satisfaction with the smooth and convenient travel they had had.
Other Recommended Reading: Old and New London: a chronicle of its history, its people, and its sites, byWalter Thornbury – Archive.org Samantha Ladart describes the London Underground as “the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.” The First Day of the London Tube – Today in History VictorianLondon.org is a collection of articles from the nineteenth century regarding the London Underground.