A week or so ago Paul from the US emailed me asking about the Inspector Sands announcements: "I was just wondering...How often can these messages be heard? How long have they been going on for, and can you still hear them today?"
I replied that they were very much still in existence (if you'd like to hear one click here) and although I had originally thought it was a code name for a small controllable, fire and that shouting "There's a fire but don't panic," would just have people legging it from stations in a panic stricken way. But I believe it's a code for the fact that a fire alarm has been mistakenly set off and that a staff member should go and investigate & turn it off. Well that's my theory and I'm sure someone will correct me.
Wikipedia says "Transport for London and the British Transport Police have not publicly stated what the codeword signifies and so its interpretation has been left to interested travellers."
However, I also wonder how long the London Underground has been using these announcements? I understand that they are also used in theatres and in fact that could have been the origin of them - although instead of Inspector Sands, it was Mr Sands.
Has anyone heard any other calls for Inspectors to sort out things on the Tube? Is there an Inspector Mopp who cleans up after drunks? What about an Inspector Killjoy who removes unauthorised buskers?