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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Building the Victoria Line in the 1960's

Fascinating film from the
archives of Halcrow of a British Transport film detailing the construction of the "new" Victoria Line in the early 1960's. Halcrow designed the Docklands extension to Woolwich Arsenal. "This film, Report Number 1 Over and Under, Operations at Oxford Circus, describes the route of the new line, the planning and the problems that had to be overcome from 1962-64."

Oxford Circus Tube in the Early 1960s

Interesting to see that some overcrowding issues never change!

Oxford Circus Tube 2011

We certainly didn't have it quite as bad as those people in the sixties.

Andy, who works for Halcrow, and sent me the link to the film said "It mostly concerns the rebuilding of Oxford Circus Tube station, including the installation of the steel "Umbrella" bridge to carry traffic as the works went on underneath. Featuring arm waving surveyors typical August Bank holiday weather and a topless miner drinking from a bucket.":

Engineer at Oxford Circus Tube July 1962

Arm Waving Engineer 1962

I love how the finishing of the works had to be completed over one Bank Holiday weekend and you can really tell the sense of pride in the commentators voice that the deadline was met.

"Everyone knew what they had to do and got about doing it". "The bolts slotted together, first time of asking".

Cavendish Square July 1963

There's great footage of the workers boring through the London clay which the commentator said was "ideal for the new Tube railway".

More tunnelling at Cavendish Square 1963

As Andy says the shot towards the end with the shirtless working drinking from a fire bucket shows how hard all these guys worked to ensure the project was completed on time.

Thirsty Work - 1963 Tube Tunneller

The whole film looks like it was from another age altogether rather than just over 47 years ago. Look out for the old TV cameras and the knotted handkerchiefs on the workers heads. There's also many of those old "cut away diagrams" showing all the tunnels, intersections and how they fitted with the new ticket halls.

Watching it, I had the  weird thought  that my parents might have been, some of the people pictured standing around looking at the work take place, years before I was even a twinkle in the old man's eye!

Thanks again to Andy and to Halcrow for uploading the film on their site.

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Heart of the Angel on DVD - Meet the Tube Fluffers
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