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.