London Underground is celebrating its 150th birthday today. The tube as it’s more commonly known began service on 10 January 1863, covering a three-and-a-half mile journey between Paddington and Farringdon on the Metropolitan Line. On average, the tube today carries 1.1 million passengers a year across 11 lines to 270 stations.
In commemoration of this historic day, Transport for London (TFL) has released a limited edition Oyster card which features Old London Underground logos. Royal Mail have also celebrated the occasion by releasing 10 special edition stamps. The scenes on the stamps are; a steam locomotive on the Metropolitan line near Paddington station (1863), workers tunnelling below the capital’s streets (1898) and a carriage of Edwardian passengers (1911). How times have changed…
This Sunday (13 January), the first passenger journey will be recreated using a series of restored trains. The Heritage Lottery Fund has given the London Transport Museum close to half a million pounds to restore the world’s oldest underground carriage to full working order. The Metropolitan Railway Carriage Number 353 was built in 1892.
Other planned commemorations include:
- The publication of 12 short stories by well-known authors, published by Penguin Books. The stories, one about each Tube line, look at the history of the Underground.
- The new two-pound coins issued by the Royal Mint which will go into circulation in 2013.
- The London Transport Museum will put on an exhibition called Poster Art 150 focusing on the iconic poster art that has featured on the London Underground for years.
- A series of Poems on the Underground will also be released.
- A series of theatrical events will take place at the disused Aldwych station.
So when you’re on the tube over the next couple of days, frustrated that the train is delayed yet again, then take a moment to think about what a magnificent system it actually is. Londoners, let’s be proud and embrace this world famous construction, just remember to “mind the gap”…