Tube 150: Ten little-known facts about the London Underground

09:27 11 January 2013

Dr David Lawrence, architectural historian and principal lecturer at London’s Kingston University.

Dr David Lawrence, architectural historian and principal lecturer at London’s Kingston University.

Archant

Architectural historian and principal lecturer at London’s Kingston University, Dr David Lawrence, shares some little-known facts about the London Underground as it celebrates its 150th birthday.

Dr Lawrence, who worked for seven years as a consultant to London Underground, is particularly interested in the cultural history of the network.

Here, he shares 10 facts you may not know about the Tube network.

1. The shape of north and west London was largely defined by the extension of the underground railway network.

2. Until the 1960s, each new development of the London Underground map meant a new diagram had to be entirely drawn and lettered by hand as an artwork 10 times the size of the pocket map.

3. Building the east end of the original Metropolitan Line revealed the course of London’s secret lost Fleet River.

4. North End station, near Hampstead, was built at platform level but never opened because it became a protected area.

5. London is one of the only world metro systems with a cable car route that crosses the Thames from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks. It opened in June 2012.

6. Lost tunnels in north and south London were used to house Afro Caribbean migrants in the 1950s, and troops who might need to respond to civil riots in the 1960s.

7. Many treasures from London’s art galleries were stored in secret tube tunnels during World War II.

8. A team of railway enthusiasts spent 26 years researching six miles of vintage wall tiling on 94 station platforms for a book.

9. The extension of the tube to become the London Overground revealed the lost Holywell Augustinian Priory at Shoreditch, once one of the richest nunneries in England.

10. The round blue and red logo is the oldest corporate brand of modern times and has inspired similar designs around world.

Latest London transportation news

Friday, August 28, 2015
On second thoughts, just stay at home

We know you’re eager to make the most of the long weekend, so check out our guide to avoid spending it stuck in traffic or at the train station as you try to get around London.

Friday, August 28, 2015
There was an earlier fire alert at Bank

Bank and Monument stations have reopened after flooding caused them to close.

Thursday, August 27, 2015
The delays and cancellations are affecting services into Liverpool Street

There are delays and cancelled trains on the Overground between Enfield Town, Cheshunt, Chingford and Liverpool Street this morning due to signalling problems.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Would you like to see women-only train carriages? Would it be safer? (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn has said he’d consult women to see if they want female-only carriages on trains. British Transport Police’s latest figures suggest a sexual offences have risen to all-time high and London24 frequently runs appeals to help catch culprits who harass and attack women on our travel network. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
The hunt is on to find this man following the theft

Smiling and talking to passersby this man caught on CCTV appears to be collecting his bicycle following a workout at a gym in Willesden.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Police released images of the man

The man involved in an incident in which a cyclist was pushed into traffic in Whitechapel has attended a police station.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Shop till you drop!

Home to top name brands at great prices, TK Maxx is more like a treasure hunt than a shop. Perfect for grabbing a bargain or some hidden gems, you arm yourself with a trolley and go wild.

Read more
Scones, jam and a cup of Earl Grey anyone?

Luxury boutique hotel Flemings Mayfair has recently launched The Drawing Room, London’s most stylish location for afternoon tea.

Read more
Free weekly shop? Yes please!

Win £200 to spend at Asda, one of the country’s leading supermarkets. Asda prides itself in being one of the cheapest places to shop, so you can be sure that your money will go a long way here.

Read more