A new book by transport historian Oliver Green, published in association with TFL, traces the history of the Underground, following its troubles and triumphs, and the essential part it’s played in shaping the capital’s economy, geography, tourism – and identity.
Most of us would find it pretty darned impossible to imagine London without the tube, as it shuttles over a billion passengers each year below busy streets and across leafy suburbs. And the distinctive roundel, colour-coded maps and Johnston typeface have become design classics, recognised and imitated worldwide.
Opening in 1863, the first sections were operated by steam engines, yet throughout its long history the tube has been at the forefront of contemporary design.
Architects such as Leslie W. Green and Charles Holden developed a distinctively English version of Modernism, and the latest stations for the Jubilee line extension, Overground and Elizabeth line carry this aesthetic forward into the twenty-first century.
Our exclusive pictures show Euston’s central role as one of London’s transport hubs. Our main image is a rare depiction of the station, terminus of the London & Birmingham Railway back in 1837. This was the first mainline to London.
And RT Cooper’s 1924 poster (above) celebrates the transformation of the old City line, seen as a ghostly apparition on the right, after full reconstruction to take modern air-door trains. Fascinating fact: island platforms only survive today at Clapham North and Clapham Common.
In short, this is a chunky hardback read for any transport geek in your life this Xmas. It might, however, be a little outsize to whip out while you’re slogging it out on the Central Line at 830am.