Shanghai has more track, Paris and New York have more stations, but London has by a clear margin the oldest urban underground railway in the world: 2013 was its 150th anniversary. It is also by far the most complicated, having started messily as several independent and often competing enterprises; contrary to sensible practice, strategic planning by unitary municipal government came towards the end of the process, not in advance.
Modern London was shaped by the Tube rather than vice versa. Motivation and management has been various: commercial and philanthropic, entrepreneurial and Keynesian, expansionist and defeatist. The first ‘cut and cover’ lines, in trenches under existing roads, were vigorously promoted by a socialistic solicitor. The ‘deep level’ tube lines were pushed through by a maverick American, while the suburban extensions between the wars fulfilled the utopian ideals of a dour Yorkshireman who came bitterly to regret the urban sprawl they spawned. Now, after decades of relative neglect, investment and improvement are on an unprecedented scale.
The day is led by Andrew Martin, journalist, novelist, historian and author of Underground Overground: a Passenger’s History of the Tube (2012). During the 1990s he was ‘Tube Talk’ columnist for the Evening Standard. He stresses that his approach will not be drily academic or technical but anecdotal and affectionate, highlighting the human stories, the architecture and design, the overlooked detail and the downright odd.
Among the places and themes examined are the first ever stations, still in use and little changed; the even earlier Brunel tunnel under the Thames, mother of all modern tunnels, opened 1841; the subtle beauties of Leslie Green’s tiled stations of the early 20th century and the revered modernist architecture of the 1930s; and the architectural bravura of the 1990s Jubilee Line Extension. The day is not all spent below ground, and by special arrangement there is a visit to London Transport’s historic headquarters at 55 Broadway.
9.00am at Baker Street Station.
c. 5.00pm at Southwark (a short walk to Waterloo station).
£220. This includes all Tube travel, lunch and refreshments.
Maximum 15 participants.
Participants need to be able to cope with busy trains and a considerable time on foot; standing or walking. There are a lot of station steps as well as a flight of 100 which are steep and narrow within 55 Broadway.
We will return the full amount if you notify us 22 or more days before the event. We will retain 50% if cancellation is made within three weeks and 100% if within three days. Please put your cancellation in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. We advise taking out insurance in case of cancellation and recommend that overseas clients are also covered for possible medical and repatriation costs.
'The itinerary was very good and covered a number of interesting locations.'
'Thanks for this opportunity. Remarkable concentration of locations to fit into the day.'
'Trip to 55 Broadway was excellent.'
'As usual on a Martin Randall tour, organisation and attention to detail was impeccable, and this invisible aspect added to the pleasure of the day.'