London Underground Tours
Sir Marc Isambard Brunel
Short History of the London Underground
The London Underground began with a milestone in engineering as french engineer Sir Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel built the first successful under water tunnel beneath the River Thames in 1825. The Thames Tunnel was originally designed for horse-drawn carriages but it never was and went on to be part of the London Underground.
After a few floods and the loss of some work me who drowned in the construction, the tunnel was finally opened up to the public in 1843. It became a tourist attraction and people could come from all around the world to pay a penny to walk through it.. Calling it the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’.
The attraction didn't last and it became a place for prostitutes and the homeless to sleep so in 1865 a railway company purchased the tunnel and in 1869 it was converted to carry the East London Railway line (now part of the London Overground).
Diagram of the tunnelling shield used to construct the Thames Tunnel
Inside the Thames Tunnel during construction, 1830
Brunel's Underground Thames Tunnel
Less Known Facts about London Underground
- Many tube stations were used as air-raid shelters during the World War Two.
- During WW2 the British Museum stored treasures in part of the Piccadily line.
- Every year the tube travels 43 million miles which is almost halfway to the sun!
- Aldwych station closed in 1994 and now is used in many film sets.
- The prodigy's 'Firestarter' video was filmed at Aldwych station.
- Half a million mice live in the underground.
- The underground scenes from 'Skyfall' were filled at Charing Cross over a few months.
- The name London Underground is not realistic as 60% is above ground.
- The phrase 'Mind the Gap' originated on the Northern line in 1968 and can still be heard at at Embankment station.
The Metropolitan Railway as it was called was opened in the January of 1863. The line ran between Paddington and Farringdon Street. Then later in 1868 the first part of the Metropolitan District Railway, from South Kensington to Westminster opened which is now part of the District and Circle lines. The Circle link was completed in 1884.
In 1869 the first steam trains travel through the Brunels Thames tunnel but it wasn't until 1905 that the district and circle lines became electrified. Before that all trains were steam powered.
Mind the Gap London Underground
Aldwych Strand Station
Aldwych Strand Station was closed in 1194 with the last train carrying public on the 30th September. It is one the most used closed stations on the underground. Today the station is maintained by the London underground as a museum piece and film set. It is often rented out for art exhibitions, book launches and private parties.
Many films used Aldwych Strand Station including: Superman IV, The Krays, Patriot Games, V for Vendetta, The Good Shepherd, Atonement, 28 Weeks Later, Mr Selfridge and Sherlock Holmes and the Prodigy's video for "Firestarter" was filmed in the tunnel.
Aldwych Station Ghost
A number of people have claimed to have seen a ghost which haunts Aldwych station. The ghost is believed to be an actress as the station used to be on the site of the old Royal Strand Theatre before it was demolished in 1905 to make way for the station.
In 2002 TV's Most Haunted spent 24 hours at Aldwych station where medium Derek Achorah apparently contacted a ghost called Margaret, who is believed to be this actress ghost. Yvette Fielding thought she saw someone or something in the tunnel and on another platform a motion detector was set off when apparently nobody was near it.
Aldwych Station Documentary
Aldwych Station Tour
- Brit Movie tours offer a Aldwych Station Tour led by expert guides at a cost of £35 and lasts for 1 1/2 hours.
- The London Transport Museum offer tours http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/
Charing Cross Station Tour
You can go on an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the Charing Cross London Underground Station that has been featured on a number of films including Skyfall, Paddington Bear, The Bourne Ultimatum and BBC’s Sherlock. The now empty station is not accessible to the general public only through tours such as this one with Brit Movie Tours: http://britmovietours.com/bookings/charing-cross-station-tour/. Tours operate from Monday to Friday by arrangement only.
You can also go on a tour with http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk which runs from 12th June to the 5th July 2015
History of Charing Cross Station
The original station was designed by architect Sir John Hawkshaw and opened on 11 January 1864. It took a big change in appearance the next year with the completion of the Charing Cross Hotel and Eleanor Cross.
Charing Cross Station 1865
Charing Cross Hotel 1885
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