London's Underground ('tube') was not only the world's first metro but also the first to have a corporate design, including the Johnston typeface (Edward Johnston 1916), the roundel logo (Frank Pick 1918), and the diagrammatic map (Henry C. Beck 1933). This groundbreaking concept is still in use today almost unmodified [ltmuseum.co.uk] and has influenced many other metros.
Photo: Notting Hill Gate station on the Circle Line, dating back to 1868.
There are some examples of interesting station
architecture in London outside the city centre. Charles Holden is
responsible for the design of fifty underground stations as well as London
Transport's headquarters at 55 Broadway [tube.tfl.gov.uk].
For the Piccadilly Line stretch to Cockfosters, Holden
developed a modernist approach in the 1930's. The original art deco furnishing of that time is surviving in some of the stations.
Photo: Cylindrical entrance building of Southgate station, built in 1933.
There are works of art in some of London's tube stations [tube.tfl.gov.uk].
The Jubilee Line Extension's spacious stations built in 1999
have been distinctly designed by a couple of famous architects,
including Foster & Partners, Ian Ritchie and Michael Hopkins [tube.tfl.gov.uk], [lrb.co.uk], [trainweb.org], [wilson].
Photo: The daylit intermediate concourse of Southwark station (1999) by McCormac Jamieson Prichard architects.
Try the following tour, recommended by residents or metro enthusiasts:
Visit London Transport Museum, the largest and most influential of its kind in the world, and browse for books or fancy metro memorabilia in the large attached museum store. Ride the Circle Line and take a special look at Baker Street, the world's first underground station from 1863. Note the tube logo, the ubiquitous Johnston typeface and the tube map, the three groundbreaking design elements that remain almost unchanged since the beginning of the 20th century. For some Modernist stations from the 1930s by metro station architecture guru Charles Holden, ride the Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters. Take a seat in the first row of a DLR train for elevated views of the city and the Docklands.
London Transport Museum. Conserving and explaining the capital city's transport heritage, offering an understanding of the capital's past and future development. LTM aims to be the world's leading museum of urban transport. Since 1973. Location: Historic flower market building. Address: Covent Garden Piazza, London, WC2E 7BB. At Covent Garden metro station. Hours (check before visiting): Saturday to Thursday 10.00 to 18.00 (last admission 17.15), Friday 11.00 to 21.00. Admission: 10 GBP. Features: big museum shop, café, library, educational programmes, lectures, special events. Reference: ltmuseum.co.uk (official website).
Museum Depot. Holds the majority of the London Transport Museum's collections which are not on display in Covent Garden. Houses over 370,000 items of all types, including many original works of art used for the Museum's celebrated poster collection, vehicles, signs, models, photographs, engineering drawings and uniforms. On 6000 square metres these form one of the most comprehensive and important records of urban transport anywhere in the world. Address: 118-120 Gunnersbury Lane, London W3 8BQ. At Acton Town metro station. Hours (check before visiting): Only during special events. Reference: ltmuseum.co.uk (official website).
The Jubilee Line Extension Project has cooperated from the early planning stages in 1992 with the Museum of London Archaeology. The successful cooperation helped to prevent unplanned delays and lead to valuable discoveries about London's history .
The line to Ongar was hardly urban - it only became part of the London Underground as a quirk of railway history. I any case, far more rural London Underground mileage has also been closed on the Metropolitan Line north of Amersham (a few miles of this - as far as Aylesbury - are still served as part of the main-line passenger network, but most is now freight-only or entirely abandoned). These were also only a part of the Underground because of a quirk of railway history, and were never electrified, so it is perhaps a little tenuous to regard them as part of an urban metro system! Yet, even the steam-worked light railway to the village of Brill was technically part of the London Underground for a couple of years in the early 1930s, prior to closure. And as late as 1961, London Transport electric locomotives would haul trains of slam-door London Transport coaches from the heart of the City of London, over the heavily-trafficked Metropolitan Line via King's Cross and Baker Street (calling at all of the busy Central London stations, just like any other Underground train), as far as Rickmansworth - where British Railways steam locomotives took over (under contract to LT), hauling the LT coaches over LT tracks to Aylesbury.
As well as the line between Amersham and Aylesbury, other significant sections of the London Underground have passed (or will soon pass) to the main line network (or London Overground) and are no longer part of LU: Drayton Park to Moorgate, the duplicate tracks between King's Cross and Moorgate, and Shoreditch to New Cross / New Cross Gate.
A streetcar or tram tunnel has been partly or wholly abandoned.
English Channel (Atlantic Ocean): Frequent suburban line services from King's Cross, City Thameslink, London Bridge or Victoria station to Brighton (trip takes approx. 50-70 minutes) or from Gatwick airport to Brighton (30 minutes). The London, Tilbury and Southend line goes to Southend and Margate, popular resorts on the Essex coast.
Docklands Light Rail (DLR) is a driverless metro, and especially from the seats in the first row you can see it all: yacht harbours, skyscrapers, the Millennium Dome and much more. The photo shows one of the red-blue DLR trains swooshing past near Limehouse station.
Shared circle - Circle Line - 22.5 km - 27 stations - opened 1863 - completed 1884. Pan-shaped loop - Central Line - 23 km - 14 stations - completed 1948 - near Hainault (operated as loop in peak hours only). Abandoned or operationally split circle - Overground - 33 stations - opened 2007 - completed 2012 - split at Clapham Junction and Highbury & Islington. Terminal loop - Piccadilly Line - 2 stations - at Heathrow, unidirectional.
A faint chirping sound before the doors close. Announcements differ: Jubilee Line ("Please mind the doors"), Northern Line ("Stand back from the doors"), Bakerloo Line ("This train is about to depart, please mind the doors"; this is rarely said though), the rest just seem to make a beeping noise or on the Central Line just a loud kind of screech... When the train comes to a halt, there's sometimes the famous recurring "Mind the gap!" by an automated male voice (wav), sometimes a single "Mind the gap between the train and the platform" by a female voice (wav from emmaclarke.com).
Jubilee Line train departing from Canary Wharf station.