Did You Know? 9 Facts to Celebrate the London Tube’s 150th Anniversary


2013 marks the 150 anniversary of the oldest metro system in the world: the London Tube. To celebrate the event, London has prepared all sorts of celebrations, ranging from exhibitions to competitions and special visits.

Wondering what makes the London Tube so special? We’ve gathered up 9 interested facts you may have never heard about the London Tube.

  1. The first underground journey took place between Paddington and Farringdon on the Metropolitan Railway. The first stretch measured six kilometres (nearly four miles).
  2. The London Tube has a total of 275 stations. Many people have traveled the full extent of it, but Tim McCready decided to not only travel the full length of all the lines, but also to have his picture taken at each one of them. You can see his video here.
  3. Celebrities and the Tube #1: The Tube has been featured in many films including Skyfall, 28 Weeks Later, Harry Potter and Atonement.
  4. Celebrities and the Tube #2: In 15 May 1939, at the age of 13 the future Queen Elizabeth II and her younger sister rode the Tube for the first time. They were escorted from Buckingham Palace by their governess to their local Tube station, St James’s Park. Most recently, Her Majesty boarded a Metropolitan Line train at Baker Street as part of the network’s 150th anniversary celebrations. You can see here here.
  5. Celebrities on the Tube #3: A few months ago, rapper Jay-Z, together with Chris Martin and Timbaland travelled on London Underground to North Greenwich for Jay-Z’s concert at the O2 Arena. Crowds went “bonkers”.
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  6. Iconic design: The striking Tube map that is recognised across the globe was the brainchild of an electrical draughtsman, Harry Beck, who produced this simple design back in 1933.
  7. Art and Architecture: While the London Tube may lack the romantic appeal of the Parisian metro, it certainly doesn’t lack in creativity and design. For example, each Victoria line station has a specially designed symbol on the tiles of its platform walls. The design is appropriate to the location. The Northern line platforms at Embankment station have murals designed by Robyn Denny. At Charing Cross station, you can see images from the nearby National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery on the Bakerloo line platforms.
  8. The Tube during the war: At the start of the Blitz many Londoners decided to make use of Tube stations as air raid shelters. Most people felt more secure deep underground than in other types of shelter. Ufortunately, the Tube was not always a safe place. In January 1941 a bomb fell above Bank station in the City of London, killing and injuring more than 100 hundred people sheltering below.
  9. Social Media: Along with having an official FB page, a Youtube page, a Tweeter feed for each Tube line and a Tumbler blog, the best representative of life on the London Tube is probably seen through the eyes of blogger Annie Mole. Her blog, London Underground is a repository of everything that’s got to do with London’s Tube and its passengers.

Do you have a good anecdote about the London Tube? Share it with us!