If you didn’t already know, the London Underground turned 150 on January 9th of this year. That date marks the first time a train left the Paddington Station to make a 3 ½ mile journey to Farringdon Station. Since then, metal carriages have transported close to a billion people a year to their final destination and everywhere in between. To celebrate, Insider London has pulled together some of the most interesting and/or ridiculous facts, inventive maps, and other quirks about London’s most important mode of transportation.
This is only part one of four, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more interesting facts!
There is only one Tube station which does not have any letters of the word ‘mackerel’ in it: St John’s Wood.
Angel has the Underground’s longest escalator at 60m/197ft, with a vertical rise of 27.5m.
Aldgate Station, on the Circle and Metropolitan Lines, is built on a massive plague pit, where more than 1,000 bodies are buried.
The TARDIS, (Doctor Who’s transport) can be found outside Earl’s Court station. Or at least an old police call box can.
Wildlife observed on the Tube network includes woodpeckers, deer, sparrowhawk, bats, grass snakes, great crested newts and slow worms.
The London Underground trains were originally steam powered.
The Tube’s logo is known as “the roundel” (a red circle crossed by a horizontal blue bar)
One of the early names proposed for the Victoria Line was the Viking line.
In 1924, the first baby was born on the Underground, on a train at Elephant & Castle on the Bakerloo line.
The tunnels beneath the City curve significantly because they follow its medieval street plan.
Charles Pearson, MP and Solicitor to the City of London, is credited with successfully campaigning for the introduction of the Underground. He died in 1862 shortly before the first train ran.
The first crash on the Tube occurred in 1938 when two trains collided between Waterloo and Charing Cross, injuring 12 passengers.
Smoking was banned on the Underground as a result of the King’s Cross fire in November 1987 which killed 31 people. A discarded match was thought to be the cause of that inferno.
An estimated half a million mice live in the Underground system.
In the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Dumbledore has a scar that resembles a map of the London Underground on his knee. (“Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground.” Chapter 1, Page 15)
During the Second World War, part of the Piccadilly line (Holborn – Aldwych branch), was closed and British Museum treasures were stored in the empty spaces.
The Jubilee Line was named to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 – but the line did not open until 1979.
A census carried out on September 27, 1940 found that 177,500 Londoners were sleeping in Tube stations.
Covent Garden is believed to be haunted by the ghost of William Terris – an actor who was known for his roles as Robin Hood and his performances in Shakespearian shows – who met an untimely death near the station in 1897. Sighters say he is dressed in evening wear but disappears suddenly.
Another station that is believed to be haunted is Farringdon station. The so-called Screaming Spectre, believed to be the ghost of Anne Naylor, was a milliner (someone who sells women’s hats).
Part two coming soon!