Celebrating 150 years of the London Underground

undergroundOne year ago today was the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, the world’s first such railway.  An incredible feat of engineering for its time.


The Underground

In eighteen sixty-three we crowned
Charles Pearson, John Fowler,
the men who frowned on inertia
and founded the very first Underground,
or the “Tube” as we call it for it’s long and it’s round
rumbling deep beneath London town
with rushing commuters scurrying down
who hurry to Greek Street or chic Camden Town,
Mornington Crescent or else Paddington.

But how do you know which way you are bound?
On Henry Beck’s maps the answer is found.
The routes are all coloured, a rainbow abounds,
to help find your way if you don’t know how,
from Circle Line yellow to Bakerloo brown.
And when on your coach take a good look around,
Like sardines we’re packed, like souls who have drowned
in a maelstrom of people swirling around.
No-one is talking, there’s hardly a sound
but listen for Annie who haunts Farringdon.

We love it, we hate it, but one thing I’ve found
we can’t do without it, no transport can crown
one-fifty years of the first Underground.


January 9th 2013

Notes:  “Celebrating 150 years of the London Underground.”  On 9 January 2013, London Underground celebrated 150 years since the first underground journey took place. This original journey covered only 3 ½ miles, between Paddington and Farringdon on the Metropolitan Railway, but marked a significant milestone in the evolution of city transport.  1863 London Underground (then known as the Metropolitan Railway) opens for its first day of service to long queues at every Underground station. The very first train left Paddington station to make the short 3 ½ mile journey to Farringdon.  2013 London Underground celebrates 150 years. Mike Brown, Managing Director of London Underground, comments, ’As we mark the 150th anniversary of the world’s first underground railway we are also building for the future. This year will see a greater frequency of services on the Central and Victoria lines and more of the new air-conditioned trains, which will soon serve 40 per cent of the Tube network.  It is this sustained investment that will enable us to create a network able to support London’s growing population and maintain our city’s vital role in the UK economy for the next 150 years.’

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