31 January 2010

Insider London underground tour

I am a bit behind with this one...
On a recent rainy Saturday afternoon I went on a tour of the Underground led by Lisa of Insider London. We began at Farringdon Station where we learned all about the first stretch of the network which went back and forth from there to Kings Cross. I was astounded to hear that 27,000 people used the service in the first day. And when the line was continued round to Baker Street carriages were windowless padded cells and the trains sometimes only stopped for three seconds at stations!
Actually, I shouldn't write down everything of interest here otherwise it will ruin your own enjoyment should you decide to go on a tour yourself, which I urge you to do; it's a great way to spend a rainy day and Lisa has heaps of interesting stories and facts to share about the history, architecture, design and future of the tube network. Though, as Tom points out here, it's rather over-priced.
From Farringdon to we travelled to Kings Cross, then to Oxford Circus, and on to Piccadilly Circus via the ghost station of Museum, ending up at the 1984/Metropolis-like Westminster.

Top row: 1 Farringdon Station. I had been a bit concerned that the plans for a new bigger station would mean the loss of this lovely old entrance and canopy, however buildings have been demolished across the street and around the corner to make way for a new Crossrail terminal. 2 Lisa told us that each station has a different colour scheme to make them identifiable. I cannot now recall if she just meant the Piccadilly Line, but I am intrigued having not known about this before, so I predict a blog post on the subject in the near future. 3 The exterior of Oxford Circus station. Lisa was telling us about Leslie Green, the architect who designed these distinctive red glazed terracotta stations, but I got a bit distracted by the bad letter-spacing on the word 'station'. 4 Gloucester Road station shown here as an example of how in the past two rival companies (here The Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway to the left and The Metropolitan & District Railway on the right) would build right next to or on top of each other rather than share.
2nd row: 5 Lisa in front of the fabulous world clock in Piccadilly Circus station. Again, I cannot believe I have never noticed this before, as it is fabulous. 6 A close-up showing we were there at 3.25pm. 7 Maps of the underground post- and pre- Harry Beck. 8 The austere environment of Westminster Station. I'm not a fan. Referring back to my older post, it's not being maintained very well; everywhere you look there are exposed wires and dirty corners.


  1. Great to read this post, Jane!

    In response to the comment about price from you and Tome: it's genuinely useful to read people's opinions, both positive and negative. We had to carefully consider the price – it's important to us to offer our private tours at a reasonable price. Many other London tours are often delivered to large groups of strangers, sometimes in groups of 30 people or more. Our tours are private, often run for couples, and a quick Google search will show that our prices are extremely competitive for tours of this type. The London Underground Tour is also the only tour of this type in the city.

    The fee includes a £6 Travelcard for all attendees and the guide (we happily lower the price by £6 per head if customers have a monthly Travelcard, however sadly the Tube's systems mean pay-as-you-go Oyster cards can't be used on the system. We're in discussions with TfL regarding this as we speak).

    We have found a number of people happy to pay the price we need to charge to make this a viable endeavour, and have received some excellent feedback on the tour, from both journalists and customers. You can read some of this on the London Underground Tour page on our site.

    Again, thanks for the feedback - it's good to learn what customers and non-customers think - we will definitely bear your thoughts in mind when developing and evolving our services.

    Best regards,

    Cate Trotter

    Insider London

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Thanks, Jane