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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
If you like this you'll LURVE One Stop Short of Barking, the fun and informative book about travelling
on the London Underground.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rejected Tube Map Cover Designs

In 2007, London Underground approached Turner Prize winning artist, Jeremy Deller, to design a new cover for the Tube map. If they'd done their homework this wouldn't have made much sense. As Deller is a "militant cyclist". However, not wanting to turn away a commission, he took the familiar colours of the Tube lines and turned them into a bicycle. Thinking that getting on a bike  wasn't perhaps the best advert for the Tube, London Underground turned Deller's design down. He produced a
portrait of one of TfL's longest serving staff members instead.

Jeremy Deller at Art : Concept by rodcorp

You can see the rejected cover on display towards the end of Deller's retrospective at the Hayward Gallery, Joy in People, under the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Ronseal title "Rejected Tube Map Cover Illustration"  which opened on 22nd February and runs until 13th May 2012 . 

I also love this mock up of a 2012 Olympics London Underground Map Cover by Max Roberts. Another illustration that's unlikely to see the light of day as a physical Tube map cover, as the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games are strict about the usage of their rings.

Max Roberts' 2012 Fictional Tube Map Cover - click to see in full

Max says "The logo itself doesn't quite match the way in which the official rings are linked, this is because its actually based on Henry Beck's 60-degree map interchanges of 1940."

I await the actual Tube Map Cover that will inevitably be produced for the Olympics with baited breath.  Perhaps Wenlock & Mandeville will be decked out in Tube line colour scarfs?  Maybe the official logo will be repurposed with the jagged edges of the much maligned image transforming into a Tube Map?  One can only wonder.

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; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 29, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Underground Photo Exhibition Opening at theprintspace Gallery

theprintspace gallery are running a free photographic exhibition from 2nd - 21st March 2012 called '
Underground'. It brings together three photographers exploring a subterranean theme. 

London based street photographer, David Solomons will be exhibiting a selection of images from his series ‘Underground’ taken on the Tube. The images were shot over a three month period between 1994 and 1995, using colour with a flash to illuminate the dark interiors of the London Underground.

Photography by David Solomons
Photography by David Solomons

David said "On seeing Bruce Davidson's Subway, I became inspired to produce something similar for my first serious attempt at a project.  Using a flashgun on the Tube was a pretty scary proposition and one where I was mostly able to only fire off one shot at a time, unless I was able to ask some subjects beforehand.  It became a very steep learning curve, and has since stood me in good stead for my regular street work (which I now practice without using flash)"

Photography by David Solomons
Photography by David Solomons

There will also be photography from another London based photographer, Dylan Thomas depicting inanimate objects in unrecognisable and unfamiliar spaces and New York based photographer, Gesche Wurfel exploreing how superintendents decorate their work and living spaces in the basements of apartment buildings in New York.

The exhibition opens with drinks on 1st March 2012 from 7pm-9:30pm. theprintspace gallery is at 74 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8DL Nearest Tube Old Street Thanks to Julian Gajewski @37603 for letting me know about this.

Update - Opening night
It was lovely to see so many people at the opening night on 1st March and also good to see the shots in the gallery
theprintspace exhibition of Underground photography

I managed to get a shot with lots of oranges and auburn tones together!

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; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 28, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ticket Inspectors feature on 2nd episode of BBC2's The Tube

The second episode of BBC2's documentary on London Underground staff focusses on ticket inspectors. 
The Tube, a six part series airing each Monday at 9pm, takes a behind the scenes look at the day-to-day running of the Underground.

Diane McConnell and Denese Brunker - ticket inspectors in The Tube BBC2

Here's the summary of tonight's episode: "Every day, 60,000 journeys are made and not paid for, costing London Underground £20 million a year in unpaid fares. The programme follows Diane McConnell and Denese Brunker, two of the Tube's longest-serving ticket inspectors, and other plain-clothes revenue inspectors as they pursue fare evaders across the network.  Find what happens to the evaders and how the money from tickets is spent."

I'm assuming the picture above shows Diane & Denese not in their plain clothes, as they hardly look unobtrusive in those outfits.

As penalty charges for fare evasion increased from £50 to £80 (that's now around the same amount as the charge for speeding) on Sunday 19th February 2012, this episode may well show why that increase was made.

Alternative to Penalty Fare by Peter F
Alternative to Penalty Fare by Peter F

Steve Burton, Director of Community Safety, Enforcement and Policing at TfL, said: "While the level of fare evasion on the network is low, it continues to cost Londoners millions of pounds every year ...... We know that our honest, fare paying passengers feel angry when they see others not paying for their journey and this should reassure them that we are tackling this issue head on."

Hopefully there will be some coverage of people who have genuninely lost tickets.  But I'm expecting most of the episode will cover the numerous creative excuses coming from Tube travellers on why they haven't got a ticket. 

Related posts
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Tube drunks highlighted in first episode of BBC2 series - The Tube 
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Three and Out - Preview Screening - The Verdict
One Under - Channel 4 Documentary
Arena: Underground On The Box 

; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 27, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Steam Train on the London Underground - Video - Test Run for 150th Birthday Celebrations

On Saturday 25th February TfL & London Transport Museum staff carried out a test designed to demonstrate whether it would be possible to run a steam locomotive on the London Underground for its 150th anniversary celebrations in 2013.

Photo by Leon Daniels
Photo by Leon Daniels

Two trains: Beattie 30587 the steam locomotive coupled to 1923 Metropolitan Electric loco 'Sarah Siddons' went on a test run through Baker Street Tube station. All the trains are being restored with the help of fundraising from London Transport Museum friends.

Leon Daniels, TfL's MD for surface transport who was part of the team said: "It left Lillie Bridge depot after 0100 and ran from Earl's Court at 0135 via the District line to Edgware Road. After a stop it then proceeded to Baker Street. At Baker Street the loco was run with protracted steam venting whilst heat and smoke levels in the station were tested. Later it shunted east to west and ran back to Edgware Road. Other trains - composed of S stock and C77 stock - ran around the steam loco train testing the effect on passing trains. With the tests complete the train ran back to Lillie Bridge via Earl's Court."

"All went very well. But the sight and sound of a steam locomotive on the Underground was pure magic. It is, of course some 40 years since there was any steam propulsion on the Underground and then of course for engineering/permanent way reasons. The last passenger train hauled by steam here was in 1905. A truly historic night out!"

Indeed! It would be amazing to travel on some of these trains next year. The romance of steam trains is still fascinating to most people and I'm sure that any journeys like this would hugely popular. Hat Tip to IanVisits

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; Posted by annie mole Sunday, February 26, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Update: Bob The Angel Tube Cat - Book Cover & Video

Received an email just this morning asking me about Bob & James, and when he will be around Angel London Underground. It's one the many emails I get about
Bob the Angel Tube Cat & his Big Issue owner who have a book deal and  their story was also featured on Catster's blog (Catster's a massive online community for cats).

Bob at Angel Tube - 8th September 2011

His book publishers, Hodder & Stoughton have produced a lovely video of the pair briefly telling their story.

The cover of Bob & James book is now on Amazon and the book will be on sale on March 15th 2012.

Bob's Book Cover

Bob & James are on Twitter @StreetCatBob if you want to see their latest news.

Bob the cat and James by silvertony45

There's more lovely photos of Bob and James's in the Bob the Big Issue Cat & James Flickr Group.  Really looking forward to the book coming out now & wish Bob & James every success with it.

James, with Bob the cat, will be signing copies of the book at Waterstones, Islington Green at 6pm on Tuesday, March 13.

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; Posted by annie mole Sunday, February 26, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Prince Charles Test Drives Tube Train

Prince Charles seems to have a fondness for being in London Underground drivers' cabs. He opened the Jubilee Line in 1979 and was pictured in the front of a train, but yesterday he actually drove a Tube train. Not in London though, but over 120 miles north in Derby.

Charles was on a tour of the Bombardier's manufacturing site, test driving the new Metropolitan, District, Hammersmith and City and Circle Line stock and meeting London Underground employees.

In the video above you can see how he is instructed by a member of staff. Rag Gahonia, has worked at Bombardier for nearly 35 years, said the Prince was traveling at at 45mph.

The Daily Telegraph reported Rag's thoughts:  "I showed him how to drive and he followed all the instructions and was really good. Did it perfectly. Stopped nice and smoothly."

Sounds like Charles could find a new career as a train operator in that case. Not sure what Bob Crow & other union leaders would make of it though.

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; Posted by annie mole Saturday, February 25, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, February 24, 2012

Roundel - Guess Where Tube 16 - Win a Mind the Gap Keyring

As no one got the last
Guess Where Tube, I've decided to make this one easier and carry over the prize. I saw this lovely example of one of the older roundels on my travels on the London Underground  this week.  You just need to guess from exactly where I took the photo from.

Guess where roundel

For visitors unfamiliar with the "Guess Where Tube" game it's where I ask you to guess from exactly where on the London Underground, certain pictures from the London Tube Flickr group were taken from.

I don't normally offer prizes, but as no one got the last one, which did have a prize I'm going to carry it over to this one.  I think it's fairly easy.

mind the gap key ring by KeYmA78

Anyway the prize is a  lovely rubbery Mind The Gap Key Ring. You have until UK time 11.59pm on Sunday 4th March 2012 to make guesses. Try not to look at the comments before you when making your guess.

Make your guesses in the comments below and either leave your blog or twitter name or email address so I can get in touch with you if you're the lucky winner. Anyone who just enters as "Guest" with no means of identifying how to contact them, won't be included in the contest. The person who is the most exact will win & if there's more than one person who guesses the same most correct place, I'll put names into a randomizer & select from there.  Good luck.

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; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 24, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Photos & Review of Christian Wolmar Talk - "How the Tube Created London"

Last night
The Westminster Society hosted a fascinating talk "How The Tube Created London" given by leading transport expert @Christian Wolmar. Using over 50 images Christian gave the story of the London Underground and its importance to creating the London we know today.

Christian Wolmar - How the Tube created London - Westminster Society Talk

I'd never seen Christian talk before and considering I have his classic book The Subterranean Railway, it was a great opportunity to hear from someone so clearly knowledgeable about railways and thier relationship to how we live.  I didn't take a lot of notes but the pictures below will give you a flavour of what went on.

Christian Wolmar on James Forbes - How the Tube created London - Westminster Society Talk

Christian opened the talk with some of the founders of the London Underground. James Forbes is pictured above, was the guys responsible for the early Circle Line. The other was Edward Watkin. One responsible for trains going clockwise, the other anti clockwise. Their constant bickering meant the Circle Line took twenty years to complete, a lot longer than the construction of many other early Tube lines.

Hammersmith was the first area to have two Tube stations back in 1873 and as we all know still has two now - on the District & Hammersmith & City Line. Both conveniently called Hammersmith and neither connected well with each other. You have to cross a very busy road to change from one to the other.

Christian Wolmar - Early South Kensington Tube - Westminster Society Talk

When South Kensington Tube was first opened, there was a charge for using the underground subway that helped people reach the many museums on the Cromwell Road easily.

Christian Wolmar - Gillespie Road Tube - Westminster Society Talk

Like many people Christian seemed to be a fan of Leslie Green's distinctive red brick stations. Gillespie Road Tube (now Arsenal) pictured above was opened in 1906 and a classic example of Green's stations. Green designed 63 London Underground stations, many on the Piccadilly Line.

Christian Wolmar - How the Tube created London - Circular Escalator - Westminster Society Talk

Pictured above is the London Underground's only circular or spiral escalator installed at Holloway Road in early 1900's. It was a rather weird experiment and quickly dismantled as the idea never took off. Parts of the escalator now live at the London Transport Museum's Depot at Acton.

Christian Wolmar - How the Tube created London - York Road Tube - Westminster Society Talk

Christian also featured the nearby disused York Road Tube (the talk was held at The London Canal Museum in King's Cross) and mentioned there were now attempts to re-open the staiton.  Ajit Chambers from The Old London Underground Company is making the most headway on that mission to try to re-open abandoned London Underground stations.

Christian Wolmar - How the Tube created London - Monorail - Westminster Society Talk

I loved the fact that early designers of the Tube network were very experimental and this rather futurist monorail by Australian, Elfric Wells Chalmers Kearney, was patented in 1911. He founded the High Speed Tube Railway Company. Proposals included the construction of a Kearney Tube system which would run across London from Cricklewood to Crystal Palace. Sadly his ideas never made it past the drawing board in London and no-one was prepared to run the risk of taking up his ideas.

Christian Wolmar - How the Tube created London - Stuffed Animals at Charing Cross Tube - Westminster Society Talk

Another fascinating fact from Christian was that there used be a display of animals killed by trains at Charing Cross Tube. Someone had the bright yet rather morbid idea of collecting the wildlife from the tracks and stuffing them for all to see.

Christian Wolmar - How the Tube created London - Piccadilly Circus 3D illustration - Westminster Society Talk

Christian ended his talk with a much loved illustration of the a 3D cutaway of the many tunnels and interchanges beneath Piccadilly Circus Tube. My full set of photos from this How The Tube Created London talk are here.

After a break, with more wine, there was an audience Q & A with Transport Minister, Theresa Villiers. A number of questions mainly focussing on Crossrail were put to her. But also questions on the lack of accessibility of most of the London Underground to people with disabilities or those needing more step free stations.

I went along to the talk with IanVisits & TheLondoneer and am sure that both will be blogging about the event and will probably have more on some of the issues in the Q & A.

I'd like to thank The Westminister Society for hosting such a great evening. It was also a chance for me to see inside the rather cute & quirky London Canal Museum, a place that I'd never visited before. Also thanks to Christian Wolmar for being an excellent speaker - I'd certainly go to hear him again.

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; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 23, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Aldwych Tube in Mock Terrorist Attack Exercise

On 22nd and 23rd of February 2012, TfL will be taking part in a 2012 Olympic Games 'live' exercise called 'Forward Defensive', working in partnership with the Met Police and the Home Office. The two-day live exercise will try to gauge what lessons emergency services & London Underground staff have learned since the July 7 bombings in 2005.   Disused Aldwych London underground station, (called Oxford Circus for this exercise), will be the scene of a mock incident on the Tube network.

Aldwych roundel by Annie Mole

If you're around the station mid morning on Wednesday, you'll see people evacuated onto Surrey Street as part of the test on Wednesday. Other security work will be carried out through to Thursday.

Emergency services, cabinet ministers and London Underground staff will be acting as though it is August 8 and 9, predicted to be two of the busiest days in London during the Games. More than 2,500 people are expected to be involved in the simulation.

Photo - EPA ©

 Met Police Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, who is also the National Olympic Security Coordinator, said "This is part of a national exercise. The majority of stuff that the public will see, because clearly they will not be underground, will be the people coming out of the Tube system afterwards.

"It is for us testing our first responders capabilities and what we have learned to make sure that we have got that in place from 7/7 (the July 7 2005 bombings).

"A significant amount of work has been done in relation to those recommendations. At their heart, they're about further developing partnership working, and further developing the response that has to be put in place, not only by the three emergency services but also by Transport for London

Warning at Aldwych by Annie Mole

Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations Cressida Dick, the National Director of Counter Terrorist Policing during the Games, called it “one of the extreme scenarios that we could face”.

She said: "This exercise and its scenario is not as a specific result of intelligence. The scenario has been planned for many many months. We will be doing our very best to prevent such an attack but it would only be right that we test our response to such an attack."

See The Guardian for more on this.  It's great to see this exercise taking place and watch out on TV news this evening for coverage.

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; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 22, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blackfriars Tube finally Re-Opens after 3 year closure

As from 20th February 2012 finally you won't see Blackfriars station with a crossed out line running through it on the London Underground map or additions like the one below.

Train map on the platforms
Train map on the platforms by IanVisits

As I think I've mentioned on the blog in the past and to people I meet in person, I rarely get excited about new station openings, unless they are ones I use on a regular basis. Blackfriars will be useful for me on the occasions the London Bloggers Meetup group is held in a pub near the bridge!

As that's not particularly regularly, I've left it for people who are much better than me at covering station openings & re-openings to explain & show what went on yesterday. IanVisits has a great post with lots of pictures of the shiny new station.  He notes how the opening caught many by surprise: "Several months late, or a week early, depending on how you look at it, Blackfriars Tube station unexpectedly opened to the public this morning".

New ticket hall and entrance
New ticket hall and entrance by IanVisits

I like the happy faces of the staff in the control room

New control room
New control room at Blackfriars Tube by IanVisits

The crew over at Londonist also covered the re-opening and were there for the pre rush-hour rush:

Photo from Londonist

"Fresh from a closure that lasted three years, Blackfriars has been completely rebuilt. The station now sports cream tiling throughout, replacing the Seventies-looking brown and orange pattern of its previous incarnation."

Paul Robertson also has a set of photos and a video is here. Ironically Paul notes that although shiny, as with most things on the London Underground,  there were still problems:

Escalator Notice by Paul Robertson
Escalator Notice by Paul Robertson

"On the very first day the station was open after a three-year modernisation programme, guess what? A broken-down escalator. Business as usual, basically."


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; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 21, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tube drunks highlighted in first episode of BBC2 series - The Tube

Looks like the first episode of
new six part series on the London Underground - The Tube - will be featuring drunks. The episode airing on BBC2 at 9pm this evening is reviewed in The Daily Star. They say "It turns out that watching drunk people on telly can actually still be really funny. It all depends on the context....

Be Careful After Drinking by bixentro
Be Careful After Drinking by bixentro

"The drunks that make you laugh aren’t your obvious lairy kind, but the seemingly respectable types in suits who’ve clearly sunk a skinful after leaving the office. What’s so funny is they’re trying so hard to act normally, and yet can’t help walking into walls etc. Either that or passing out on the train and waking up in the middle of God knows where."

Agreed these people can be funny, but often only when you don't have the pleasure of being on the same train as them or I imagine being one of the members of staff who have to deal with them.  It'll be interesting to see how the show pulls this off.

I was on a downwards escalator at Holborn a week or so ago late one night, which abruptly stopped (really weird sensation incidentally, giving you a feeling you're about to tumble head first into the person in front of you).  Some drunk suited guy had decided it would be fun to press the emergency button on the escalators, or had possibly just fallen onto it.  He was at that "so drunk, he could hardly stand" stage and when questioned by members of staff, raised his hands in an incredulous "What me? No I had nothing to do with the escalator stopping" kind of way.  Sadly his swaying & slurred words indicated that he had everything to do with the escalator stopping.

Wake me up at: stickers & badge by sleekit
Wake me up at: stickers & badge by sleekit

I dread to think how he managed to continue his onward journey and he should have definitely bought a packet of the "Wake me up at......" stickers, designed for fellow passengers to take pity on you so you don't go past your stop.

The problem with most Tube drunks is that a) they'd never remember to put the sticker on the first place and b) they'd probably be too wassed to write the station name on the sticker, if theirs wasn't already pre-printed.

197.365.2010 by version3point1
Priority seat stickers by version3point1

Let us know some of your London Underground drunkards stories, funny or otherwise.  The Daily Mirror also point out that it's not viewing for the faint hearted:  "This first episode is all about the weekend as we watch station staff patiently shepherding the usual Friday night crowds of drunks and we witness a bizarre but terrifying stabbing at Leicester Square in which a woman was randomly shoved on to the track.

“No one cares,” says station supervisor Wasim Malik. “I worked at Holborn once. There was a person dead on the floor, on the escalator, and people were still trampling over him. Welcome to London. Welcome to the Underground.”

Looking forward to get your first impressions of The Tube when it airs tonight.

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; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 20, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New "Get Ahead of The Games" Tube Cartoon

Another ad from TfL's ‘
Get Ahead of the Games’ series to ensure that tourists, Londoners & commuters can effectively plan their journeys during the Olympic Games. Part of me sees how the ad people behind this would have thought it was funny.  "Ah let's put a rowing boat in the Tube cos it's long".  However, considering you'll be hard presssed to squeeze yourself on a London Underground train during the London Olympics the humour falls flat.

Get Ahead of The Games Ad by Annie Mole

Also none of the athletes will be using the Tube to get to stadiums (well if they wanted to set off two hours before they were due to be there, they might). When London last hosted the Olympics in 1948 athletes actually travelled in on ordinary London buses.

Also to reduce the financial burden on the UK, all participants were asked to bring with them their own food, towels and sportswear. Apparently the US team upset their fellow competitors by turning up with steaks, chocolate and real coffee. These "luxury" foods hadn't been seen in the UK since 1939.

Paul Collins has written a book An Olympic Summer : Transport for London in 1948, based around some fascinating historical photographs. It records the British transport scene during that summer of 1948 when the world travelled to England and the immediate post-war road and rail networks were put to the test.

Back to the ad, I'm looking forward to seeing more from the series though. The website promises to make the poster ads available for download and rather optimistically suggests: "Why not pin up the poster in your workplace or at home as a reminder to plan ahead and make your journeys easier during the Games?" !!!

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; Posted by annie mole Sunday, February 19, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, February 17, 2012

TfL Penalty Charges increase from Sunday 19th February

From Sunday 19 February 2012, the penalty charge on the London Underground, buses, DLR & London Overground will increase from £50 to £80 with the reduced amount (if paid on the spot or within 21 days) also increasing from £25 to £40. Apparently fare evasion across all London Transport is
estimated to have cost TfL £63 million last year.

Alternative to Penalty Fare by Peter F
Alternative to Penalty Fare by Peter F

Steve Burton, Director of Community Safety, Enforcement and Policing at TfL, said: 'While the level of fare evasion on the network is low, it continues to cost Londoners millions of pounds every year.

'We therefore need to make the penalty charge more effective and the early payment reduction will encourage prompt payment.

'We know that our honest, fare paying passengers feel angry when they see others not paying for their journey and this should reassure them that we are tackling this issue head on.

'However, the simple way to avoid this penalty is to ensure you pay the correct fare for your journey in the first place.'

So from Sunday you'll see new Penalty Fare signage on both gatelines and trains across the Tube's network replaced with new signs. Perhaps there should be a few other new Penalty Fare signs put up while they are at this.

No sitting

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; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 17, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tube staff star in new BBC2 Documentary Series

Hot on the heels of Channel 4's somewhat contraversial "
Confessions from The Underground" London Underground staff across the network will be the stars of a new BBC 2 documentary, The Tube (this time made in cooperation with London Underground), taking a behind the scenes look at the day-to-day running of the Underground.

Tube Announcer

The six-part documentary, hitting your TV screens from Monday 20 February 2012, will be shown weekly on BBC2 at 9pm.

The crew from Blast! Films, had been filming across the network since February 2011 and spent time with London Underground staff, taking footage of every aspect of what they do: "from our essential asset maintenance to our staff working on stations, trains and in service control. While LU co-operated with the filming in every possible way, this is a completely independent production that sets out to 'show it like it is' on the Underground".

Monday's episode will  focus on a major track replacement operation and an eventful weekend at Leicester Square station, alongside other glimpses into the Tube's  day to day work.

TfL said "Our staff have contributed to and collaborated with this BBC documentary, which should ensure that it's a fascinating and fair depiction of both their hard work and the challenges they face every day. One not to be missed!"

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; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 16, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How the Tube Created London - Christian Wolmar Talk - Westminster Society

On Wednesday 22nd February 2012, The Westminster Society are hosting what looks like a fantastic talk "
How The Tube Created London" for fans of London Underground's history. Leading transport expert @Christian Wolmar will be speaking at London Canal Museum from 7pm to 9pm, and his talk will be  illustrated with over 50 images focussing on how the engineers that created the Tube effectively created the London we know today.

sub railway first class - London Transport Museum

Obviously the Tube was a great engineering achievement, but also responsible for stimulating the development of London as a city.

The Westminster Society who are hosting the event said: "The Tube allowed people to traverse the city in a way which would be impossible by any form of surface transport, and became a global icon of the city, in terms of its roundel ‘logo’, map design, station architecture, and also for its transport model, which in the 1930s became envied and studied around the world. After the war, London Transport changed the demography of the capital by recruiting directly in the Caribbean and Africa for cheap labour to run the Tube and buses at a time of full employment among the native population. Taken together, it is no exaggeration to say that the Underground helped build the London we know today."

sub railway met opening - London Transport Museum

After Christian's presentation there will be an open question & answer session: "Will the Tube Make or Break London?" where Theresa Villiers MP (Minister of State for Transport) will take questions from the audience.

They're hoping to cover Londoners' love-hate relationship with the Tube.  The fact that to tourists it's both iconic and perplexing. We all know there are massive changes taking place with a hugely ambitious investment and renewal programme.

Transport For London Posters at Westminster Bridge

At the same time it faces significant challenges – increased passengers, increased fares, constant threats of industrial action &  millions of new travellers using the system due to the 2012 Olympics.

The Westminster Society ask "Will the renewal succeed and will the challenges be overcome? Is the Tube going to get better or worse over the next decade? Will it still be of importance to London’s future, or should we all start getting on our bikes now?"

The evening is only £10 or £5 for concessions (Students & over 60's) and can be booked online here. As I've never heard Christian speak before, I'll certainly be going, along with Pete from The Londoneer. Plus with the debate with Theresa Villiers it sounds like it will be an excellent evening.

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; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day & Love on the Tube

Singletons avert your eyes as today you will see lots of these on the London Underground:

Valentines on the Tube

I had never seen roses with their own individual mini vases with water in a bouquet before!

Also enjoy the little known fact that Boris Johnson's sister, Rachel, was proposed to on the Tube. She said "London is an incredibly romantic city and there is no greater gesture than someone asking you to marry them. My husband Ivo proposed to me at Westminster Underground station. I was already pregnant and he was on his way back to work at the House of Commons. He got down on his knee as a Circle Line train was approaching and got out a box. I said 'yes' and then hopped on the Tube. What could be more romantic."

This wasn't the only Tube proposal, as last year a married couple Will & Katie (not that Will & Kate), Will Gull & Katie Crammer, returned to the place they first found love - South Woodford Tube station where their eyes met across a crowded carriage and they got chatting. They also got engaged at the station and in August dressed up in their wedding clothes to thank the London Underground staff there.

Photo by Hayley Lehmann
Photo by Hayley Lehmann - see another great shot on her site
 "Will got down on one knee and proposed to Katie in front of commuters and station staff – which is why they decided to travel back to South Woodford station to let the staff know their journey had a very happy ending," Haylet Lehmann told TfL.

London Underground’s Chief Operating Officer, Howard Collins said: “It is lovely to hear that we have brought this young couple together and that they returned to South Woodford to let our staff know.

“We had more than 1.1 billion passengers on the Tube last year so this can’t be the only couple who have found love on the Underground and their journey ended happily in marriage.

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; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 14, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tube Station Cinema at Snaresbrook London Underground - Is this first Tube Cinema?

Is this the first cinema to be set up on the London Underground? It's possible that films were shown to entertain people sheltering in Tube stations in air raids in the second world war, but this must be a first for our current Tube system. Malcolm Parker, 57, set up a projector and started showing his collection of films of classic steam trains for morning commuters in a disused office on the westbound platform of Snaresbrook London Underground Station.

Snaresbrook station, London Underground - roundel by mikeyashworth
Temporary signs went up - covering up the 1947 roundel by mikeyashworth

The mini cinema, which is decorated with classic Art Deco railway posters, has proved so popular that Malcolm has extended its opening hours so those making their way home after can enjoy the show.

In an interview with the East London & West Essex Guardian series, Malcolm said: "There is a room on the platform that was completely dull so I put some old posters up I decided to put it to some use. I don’t know of any other stations with cinemas.

"People very much like it. You have people getting off the train and saying ‘what is that?’ and being quite amazed. People have also come along specially to see it with their kids on the weekend.

Malcom was on the last Epping-Ongar service as a train guard before the stretch of line closed in the early 1990s and has rare self-shot footage of the old route and even older footage of Great Eastern Line steam trains. “Some of the films of the steam trains have proved especially popular with the older ladies,” he said

I have always been on the railways all my life, and my family have since the 1840s. My great-grandfather drove the royal train for Edward VII. Now my son and daughter both work on the railways.

“I love the railways, the architecture, the locomotives, I even find satisfaction in well laid tracks. It is great to share my passion,” he said.

Poster showing Epping Ongar Line by Alan Perryman
Poster showing Epping Ongar Line by Alan Perryman

If anyone lives near Snaresbrook, see if you can pop in and have a look, it would be great to find out what the films are like.  Thanks.  Hat tip to IanVisits for telling me about this.

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; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 13, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mad Men Inspired Tube Ad

Only just noticed these new ads on the London Underground that have clearly been inspired by Mad Men graphics. The man falling down the Tube escalators is to remind us not to run down escalators & "A little patience won't hurt you", whereas running down escalators & stairs possibly will.

Mad Men Escalator Ad

Last year there was one fatality & 1,968 injuries due to "lack of attention on stairs and escalators".  It may or may not be a surprise that this ad is placed at Bethnal Green - scene of the worst civilian accident during the 2nd World War when 173 people were crushed to death descending stairs at the station during an air raid.  A rather chilling reminder of the need to be careful on stairs or just coincidental placement?

I usually try to walk down escalators but lazily stand when they're going up. I've personally seen very few people run down escalators, but I'm guessing that "lack of attention" means things other than running. I have seeen an number of kids & teenagers running or rather trying to run up the down escalators.  Also the Angel Tube ski-ing exercise would be pretty high on the list of, not the most sensible thing to do on an escalator.

Perhaps if the London Underground installed slides rather than stairs (as recently discussed when Lord Toby Harris stated that Boris Johnson should consider a rejected e-petition made to the Government to "improve “the flow of passengers through busy London Underground stations” by installing slides in place of escalators.") , this could help people with their impatience & make commuting more enjoyable too.

Mad Men Tube Ad - Bethnal Green

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; Posted by annie mole Saturday, February 11, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Victorian Railway Food vs 21st Century Railway Food

Continuing my
London Underground homage to Charles Dickens, I came across a lovely piece from The Cat's Meat Shop blog of a Victorian gentleman's impressions of railway food in London 1863. As @VictorianLondon aka Lee Jackson rightly says: "The descriptions of railway food are priceless and still hold true today".

Eating on the tube :-s by fitzlaurafitz
Eating on the tube :-s by fitzlaurafitz

Here's some of my favourite bits & a few photos of food you will find in London mainline stations today that show we still have the same problems:

West Cornwall Pasty Company by jovike
Hot Cornish pasties at Kings Cross Station by jovike

"... it is an incontrovertible fact, that at railway stations generally, and at London termini in particular, the 'commissariat department' is disgracefully managed. For a period of some weeks last year I was compelled (as the phrase goes), by circumstances over which I had no control, to lunch at a well-known terminus in this metropolis....

The rooms are large and commodious, the servants numerous, and the appointments, to all appearance, good; yet the viands exposed for sale on the counter, the quality of the meat supplied for an early dinner, and the attendance of the waiters are, one and all, execrable. 

The Underground Toast by dwro8ea
The Underground Toast by Dwro8ea

If you are inclined to ' feed ' at the bar, you will find nothing but stale pastry, musty ham, and flyblown buns. If you resort to the dining-room, you will be regaled with coarse-grained beef and flavourless mutton, underdone potatoes, and bad butter......

 As for the ladies behind the bar, they appear to have entered into a solemn compact not to wash their hands more than once a week, and to eschew the use of the nailbrush altogether. One damsel is in the habit of using a toilet-pin in a manner for which it was certainly never intended; another appeared to me one morning in the act of mending an old boot.......

Smelly Food Ad

Add to these peculiarities a general sulkiness of demeanour, and you may form some idea what it is to be waited on by these terrestrial Hebes. To give them their due, however, I will say that they all zealously defend the reputation of the establishment. 'The buns was always considered excellent,' - 'We never had no complaints of the pastry before,' - 'These ham sandwiches musty and dear! Well, you was the fust as said so,' and so on. 

Burger King, Waterloo Station by Mïchael
Burger King, Waterloo Station by Mïchael

There is one traditional article of food that they persist in tendering, and the bare recollection of which is enough to induce dyspepsia. It is a huge oblong box of half-baked dough, containing dice-shaped nuggets of cold pale meat and pork-fat. This is cut up into slices, revealing a crust of some half an inch in thickness, and is dignified by the name of veal-pie.

Cornish Pasties at Paddington station by vissago
Cornish Pasties at Paddington station by vissago

Joking apart, the managers of our railway refreshment rooms have reason to be heartily ashamed of the manner in which they cater for the public. Everything they offer for sale is as bad as it is dear, and dear as it is bad. A man may dine comfortably in the City for less than a miserable lunch costs at these places. Let the Metropolitan Company look to it; and as their carriages are more commodious, and their fares cheaper than on most lines, let them see what improvement they can effect in their restaurants"

Pizzas, Sausage Rolls & Pasties at Bank by kaszeta
Pizzas, Sausage Rolls & Pasties at Bank by kaszeta

The one vaguely good thing about food at railway stations is the Bite Card, so at least we can get discounts at some of the places. You simply apply for it at this site. It takes a couple of weeks to arrive in the post and then you can use it at mainline railway food outlets like The Pasty Shop (often the saviour of  late night train travellers who've had one too many to drink), The Camden Food Co, Millie's Cookies and going rapidly down the fast food chain to Burger King.

If you have some suggestions of good places to eat at railway and Tube stations please let us know in the comments.

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; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 08, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE